Photo credit: Travers!

I want an iPod nano-sized, open and unlocked tiny Android device!

My name is William Leon and I love tiny Android device. It’s strange because I’m 5’7” and I love large format devices (find me daily driving a Samsung Fold 2). I loved the dream that was Ubuntu phone RIP... having a fully open computing system.

I love tiny Android device because

  • is so tiny
  • I can fit 5 or 6 in a pocket
  • nothing happens when I drop it
  • don't care if I lose it while biking

And, of course, some people just love tiny things!

The drawbacks of tiny device (tiny screen, tiny battery) are not actually about the size, for me at least. The tradeoffs aren’t a thing either! Keep your normal phone and have tiny Android device for all your Android/ARM prototyping and project needs. If you are a die-hard big closed, difficult-to-tinker device person you might as well stop reading 😂

Why write this?

It’s abundantly clear that a tiny, open and hackable devices are not on any OEM’s radar. So I have decided to take this matter into my own hands. My hope is to gather together tiny Android device followers to support sourcing the most accessible Android device for hardware hackers, educators, and prototypers.

If you want tiny Android device, this is your opportunity to help get the open Android device category that we love.

Over 3️⃣0️⃣ of us so far!


My Dream tiny Android device

Optimizes for only 3 things:

  • Root access out of the box
  • USB Host control
  • Minimal Android OS, able to replace with Linux

If we can get these three things, then we have the perfect tiny, open Android device. Currently there are ZERO Android devices that are as tiny and as open as possible. No amount of money can buy one right now.

Focus on the maker, hacker, prototyper community - all other specs are flexible.

Price $70-130 (again, we have no alternatives so we should be willing to pay a bit more!)

Ideal specifications

Must have

  • Be tiny!
  • Rooted!
  • OTG / USB host-mode enabled
  • Bootloader unlocked

Nice to have

  • Cell service in the US (but that doesn't really matter)
  • more features!
  • better cameras for CV projects
  • GPIO breakout capability
  • Depth Sensor
  • Open source kernel and OS images for everyone!

We need to work together

This Android device will never exist unless we do something about it (and yes, I mean me but plz halp)

No phone form factor allows us to truly tinker with the ins and outs a’la Raspberry Pi and Arduino.

My goal is to attract a lot of interest in this page and sign up potential buyers! We dont need that many people to sign up!

I really really really want to get tiny open Android devices to everyone! Send me an email at wjl88 at cornell dot edu if you want to join me on my Android device quest.

The open and hackable tiny Android device category shouldn't be tiny. Let's make tiny Andoid device happen!


FAQ

Who are you?

My name is William Leon. Ages ago I fell in love with installing linux on any old computer I could scavenge and put it work for silly, stable projects (still use an ancient Thinkpad running puppy linux to write poetry). I am a chemist and an educator staring at a widening gap between the physical computing for tinkerers landscape link to extra projects!

Isn't it crazy to source an open and hackable Android device??

Maybe! But I honestly believe that this device is a middle ground to make computing more accessible. I'm demanding that tiny, open Android devices exist as a low-barrier, alternative device for tinkering and prototyping that I can use to teach everyone computing

Why don’t you just use an iPad to teach coding?

Because iPads, common cell phones, and off-the-shelf Android devices are egregiously locked down for the profits of their respective companies; to keep you in their ecosystem, monitor your every move, and to offset the costs of perceived premium features all at the expense of user privacy and the freedom to explore and fully access their computing hardware. Moreover, the productization and luxury status of many consumer devices create a massive equity gap in who has access to quality educational experiences.

No complete tinkerer solution is out there, one that enables barrier free physical computing.

Also, personally, after many years banging my head against more corporate interference in hardware accessibilty combined with the recent supply-chain and chip shortage - tiny, open Android device is capable of outclassing the Raspberry Pi in terms of availability and usage.😀


Written in June 2022 by william leon using smallandroidphone.com's scource code