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It is time for a new cell phone and I am facing the difficult question: which one? I would like to get a smartphone and am now browsing around the web to see which smartphone provides the best support for Ubuntu and can synchronizes best with Ubuntu.

Any tips, info and experience to share?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Braiam, Seth, Andrea Corbellini, Alvar, Mitch Feb 23 at 12:12

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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This will likely be better suited as a Community Wiki –  Marco Ceppi Sep 7 '10 at 12:25
    
@Marco Ceppi: yep. good idea. changed it to community wiki. –  mropa Sep 9 '10 at 4:16
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7 Answers 7

up vote 16 down vote accepted

I have an Android device (Motorola Milestone, called "Droid" in the US) that works great with Ubuntu... but you actually don't need to "sync" it, since the purpose of Android is to sync with your Google account. Then I have my Thunderbird + Lightning synced with my Google mail/contact/calendar (also works with Evolution), and I have the Android smartphone doing the same on its side.

You also can use UbuntuOne contact syncing if you prefer (works on Evolution, Thunderbird, and Android devices). It is still in beta, and seems to be targetted for paying users, but it may be a solution, if you don't want to rely on Google only :)

Then for music: Rythmbox can see it when I plug it on USB, and I can manage my phone's playlist from it. For photo/video/whatever, the phone is actually seen as a USB drive, so you can go put/remove files as you like.

No issue so far, I really find it easy to use.

Edit: About the iPhone... I guess it's worth some comments :)

We already have questions about iPhone syncing with Ubuntu on this site. Run a search for "iPhone" to find more. But you'll find all needed information here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/PortableDevices/iPhone

Basically: it works, at least for music/video/podcast syncing. You can even get tethering working. Contact/calendar cannot be synced, but you can sync your iPhone to Google, so it's not a big deal.

Now the fact is that some things will require iTunes. For instance: Application management, phone's upgrade and phone's settings backup. And iTunes doesn't work on Linux :(

I am mentionning it because I know people are advertising the support of iPhones on Ubuntu, while this support is not as complete as you might think.

I had an iPhone some times ago. Great device, but I had to sell it because of this incompatibility (and other personal reasons). No fun to have a VM just for iTunes :-(

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everything in here applies to any android phone. –  trampster Sep 7 '10 at 7:45
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I own an Android phone (HTC Magic on 2.2). It also works out of the box as a USB modem for tethering. –  Javier Rivera Sep 7 '10 at 7:47
    
Tethering works from Android 2.2, BUT it is not available on every device: it depends on the manufacturer/carrier decisions... I'm waiting for Motorola to roll out 2.2 on my Milestone to see wether I can use tethering or not :-) –  Little Jawa Sep 7 '10 at 8:15
    
any experience with blackberry and nokia on Ubuntu? i have seen/read a couple of things about RIM and its workarounds/packages. –  mropa Sep 7 '10 at 8:42
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@Little Jawa: Tethering works since 1.6, wireless tether for non-root users is the novelty on 2.2. And well... if I'm using a Magic with 2.2, sure I'm not using the carrier/manufacturer official ROM ;). –  Javier Rivera Sep 7 '10 at 8:48
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The Nokia N900 is a full-on Linux smartphone. A little less popular than Android, but capable of communicating with your Ubuntu installation through Samba, NFS, Ethernet, USB, etc.

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Do not get a Samsung Galaxy S,

Samsung rolls out updates via it Kies software. Kies only runs on windows. Samsung does not provide over the air updates.

This means that you will have no way of updating your phone with official firmware.

I found this out the hard way. I assumed it would be like every other android phone and get updates over the air. Sadly it does not.

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You wouldn't want to use Kies even if you were on Windows, since it is a bloated mess. Therefore run it in a virtual machine or better still use the open source tool, Heimdall. –  daithib8 Apr 7 '11 at 17:02
    
heimdall works great for flashing from linux –  barrymac Apr 11 '12 at 22:18
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I've only had experience with BlackBerry phones. BlackBerry phones which have added microSD cards installed are recognized as digital audio players in Ubuntu when connected via USB cable. As such, you can drag and drop MP3 music files, photos, MS Office documents (if you use Documents to Go) or compatible eBooks onto the drive within their designated folders. Video is a bit trickier on older BlackBerrys like the Curve or the Pearl as they need to be reduced in resolution to fit the native screen and compressed for size (this can be done with the software program Handbrake). BlackBerrys tend to prefer the MP4 file container.

Like other phones, a Windows machine with native desktop software (BlackBerry Desktop) is required to back up mail, calendar and contact information as well as update the OS. Though the newer model BlackBerrys do allow over the air OS updates if you have a good data plan.

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As others have mentioned, Android-based phones work out of the box. My Nexus One shows up as mass storage, which lets me manage it via my music player, photo editor, etc. You can drag and drop things to it like any device:

alt text

The one problem with the default music application (Rhythmbox) is that the playlists currently do not sync. This problem will be addressed in a future version. However the Banshee media player currently manages this quite well, which is what I use to manage the music on my Nexus.

The other downside for you might be that you have to use Google services to get the over-the-air syncing goodness. So if you have your contacts/calendar/email locally in your applications then you have to find a syncing solution vs. if you use gmail everything just works transparently. Some people might not like this but I find it to be a very handy feature. Having owned both a blackberry and an iPhone 3G (which I needed to plug in and sync) there's much less hassle to have everything syncing over-the-air.

Also, depending on whether your carrier has Android 2.2 and doesn't disable tethering it just works when you plug it in.

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In general Android phones will work best. They behave out of the box, like a camera, a removable drive and an mp3-player. Bluetooth also works. (and the phone runs linux like Ubuntu, which is kind of cool)

For Ubuntu One, they seem to focus on iPhone support for syncing first. So if you want to synchronize your tomboy notes or your ubuntu-one files over the air, the iPhone is the better choice.

[editoral comment removed]

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Keep editorializing out of answers please. –  Broam Sep 7 '10 at 15:40
    
Probably focus on iPhone because android devices are a much more seamless integration and iTunes is not available on linux platforms. –  Chris Sep 7 '10 at 15:56
    
@broam i've removed the editoral comment –  Ralf Sep 7 '10 at 17:46
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