The price of stubborness

Lifelong Mac user, I always limited my allegiance to Apple’s computers and music players: while I cannot count the number of Macintoshes, Macbooks and iPods I owned over the years, I never had an iPhone or Apple Watch or any other gizmo.

I paid dearly for the obstinacy in resisting the lure to go all-in on the bitten apple, especially when trying to get my Android phone (but it was a Symbian phone before that) to talk to my Mac, sync information and move files.

In this latest iteration I had to replace a damaged-beyond-repair Huawei device, and chose a Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro which has three of the things I want: a headphone jack, a replaceable battery and a micro SD card tray. This last requirement was especially long-sighted, for reasons you’ll understand below.

The migration from the old phone was a non-migration: my Google accounts did a little of the work (essentially remembered which apps I had) but not much: I had to manually rebuild my painstakingly designed single-page home screen, pictures and music did not budge at all, and contacts got hopelessly messed up.

All in all, there was (and still is) A LOT of manual work to complete the task:

  • Pics got backed up and pulled down from Dropbox (this was a piece of cake, there were very few of them, as I back up and catalog them very often)
  • Contacts got exported in VCF from the old phone and re-imported, after razing the new phone address book
  • Music is tougher, as there is a whopping 35GB of it:
    • Backing up to Dropbox would take ages with my slow connection. In fact these files are the result of the manual ripping of my CD collection, so until fiber or Starlink don’t bring us to this century (which is happening, let’s see who makes it first) they won’t be backed up to the cloud like everything else, as I have the actual CDs.
    • Next I tried using the USB cable connection: Android File Transfer keeps breaking down as it does with many other phones and USB-debug reliant Macdroid does not like the wonky USB driver of my Xiaomi phone: alas, there is a new one, but only for Windows!
    • Then I tried FTP, but first I had to understand (it took me a while) that the native FTP server OSX used to offer was removed around 2009-2010 (I think for security reasons) so I had to install an FTP server on the Macbook and an FTP client on the phone. Speed is very low (perhaps due to poorly configured WiFi ?) and the FTP pipe kept breaking down, mostly due to incoming calls (which, BTW, failed so don’t do this when working !) and I had to give up. Moreover, the FTP client’ mere existence even if it’s not running makes receiving calls impossible, so I had to uninstall it altogether.
    • My final option is the StairsNet: back in the days, at Lotus we had the developers team housed on the third floor and the QA team on the first. Our LAN was not the best (*ahem!*) and sometimes developers would put a build on a portable HD drive and trudge down to first floor, hence the name. Basically, I’ll copy the files to a micro SD card and move it to the phone from where I’ll copy it back to the destination folder. Not the fastest process as the SD card slot on my Mac does not have a very fast connection and the file system simulators on phones are horrible creatures, but lo-tek enough it could work.

Adding to my predicament is my wife’s and daughter’s relentless teasing about oh-so-much-easier it would have been had I chosen an iPhone, especially nasty because it’s true.

Without the SD card tray I’d be stuck: God save us from the bad example set by Apple of removing everything from their phones: it might work in a closed, tightly controlled system like the Apple ecosystem, but definitely NOT on a mixed ecosystem like the one I insist in having.

Next task will be to get the phone to work with Android Auto, but that’s for another day.

[EDIT 22/9]: I have decided to return this phone – during all of yesterday I could not receive calls, and compatibility with Android Auto and the Neutron Music Player was awful.

Back to shopping, I have relented on the replaceable battery and am willing to downgrade to 128GB (currently using about 75GB) but not willing to compromise on audio jack and SD card tray. Current shortlist includes:

  • Samsung A72
  • Samsung A52s
  • Google Pixel 4a (no SD card might be compensated by the cruft-free OS…)

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