back to article Why is my cheapo Android red hot and switching off Wi-Fi?

Cheap Android smartphones aren’t just bad for the environment because they’re destined for landfill - they might also cause problems because they come laced with ineffective but battery-life destroying crypto-mining crud. Reg reader Andy Brown was initially pleased with the inexpensive Xgody smartphone he bought as new from …

  1. James 51 Silver badge

    Samsung did a demo were they chained about forty galaxy devices together as a crypto minder (can't remember which model it was) and claimed it an economial use of old hardware.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Especially if you are charging for the HW and the punter is paying for the electric

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It was some Galaxy S5 phones. It had the same mining power than a 2nd gen Core i7, but with just 10% of the electricity consumed. I was really impressed

  2. Absent

    Kodi boxes

    I wonder how many Android Kodi boxes have crypto mining apps baked in too?

    1. J27 Bronze badge

      Re: Kodi boxes

      They'd be more likely to get away with it, not being in your pocket and hooked up to the mains. People need to just stop buying the bootleg boxes, you can get an official one like the Xiaomi MI Box for only about 50£.

      1. FIA

        Re: Kodi boxes

        If price is less of a worry then the Intel NUCs make great Kodi boxes. After having a few slow but okay kodi boxes based on Pi's and the like I took the plunge and got a NUC, as I wanted something with enough oomph to do x265. Whilst it turns out the intel drivers aren't great for x265 the box is powerful enough to do it in software and as a small quiet media box it's absolutely great. Works well over wireless, is unobtrusive in the bedroom, has built in IR out the box so worked with the remote I had... marvellous.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Kodi boxes

          If price is less of a worry then the Intel NUCs make great Kodi boxes.

          As do Banana Pis as they do (encode/decode) have hardware support for x265.

  3. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Big Brother

    To think...

    That people put their entire private lives on these things...

    And use them for banking...

    I know I'll never trust ANY smartphone... ever...

    1. K Silver badge

      Re: To think...

      As with anything, it can be abused... same for your laptop, your car (if you've got one of the new 4G-connectivity), even your ADSL/Cable router!

      So, Unless your willing to give up everything... never say never!

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: your car? The 4G not needed!

        "your car (if you've got one of the new 4G-connectivity)"

        The 4G is irrelevant. Bluetooth, an accessible diagnostic port, WiFi, GSM, 3G, RF Key fobs and even DAB have all been used to hack cars. The Replicating BBC R4 on a local low power DAB TX with a background malicious payload is mental. Who'd have thought that data picked up on the radio could be fed into the management system to put on the brakes?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To think...

      Indeed every piece of technology can be tampered with and be accessed, be it physically or remotely. There is no fully protected device available. You can only pick the LEAST vulnerable, such as phones that aren't cheap no-name devices. Anything with monthly security updates will be fine.

      But now the problem is: which model will give you monthly updates? Most OEMs do not disclose that information at all so that's tricky. All you can do is look at which OEMs gave what in the past to which phones to get an approximate answer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: To think...

        I think the point being made is that there are so many avenues of attack that it's foolish to rely on them, even if you were to get monthly updates. Personally I don't put anything I couldn't bare to lose or for someone else to see on my phone. The marginal utility just isn't worth the risk.

        Laptops and PCs are, perhaps, a little more mature and as such less risky.

        So, for me, I'll do PC banking but I haven't got anything to do with banking or money on my phone.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: To think...

        > But now the problem is: which model will give you monthly updates? Most OEMs do not disclose that information at all so that's tricky. All you can do is look at which OEMs gave what in the past to which phones to get an approximate answer.

        That's not a very useful approach, since many vendors can and have improved over time. Nor will a vendor always know how well their suppliers (ODMs) will support components with new drivers. Your best best is to buy a phone that shipped with Oreo - it'll have Project Treble so Android can be updated without input from ODMs (Day one updates to Oreo don't count). Obviously choose a vendor who'll likely still be in business in three years time.

        Phone models that are popular with modders might also be a good a good bet if you want to stay up to date by faffing around with ROMs.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: To think...

          > But now the problem is: which model will give you monthly updates?

          lineageos.org - no spyware and weekly security updates on 5 years old devices

          Combined with a $50 Motorola phone

      3. Mage Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: which model will give you monthly updates?

        Monthly is irrelevant. When needed is the issue. Also no assurance an update on Car, Phone, PC, Coffee Maker, TV, Sound Bar etc won't brick it or reduce functionality or reliability. Even eInk ereaders from Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble have all had automatic updates that have reduced the usability or functionality. Even Apple and Microsoft laptops etc.

      4. PM from Hell
        Devil

        Move to the dark side

        The lack of android updates (without rooting the device and installing a custom rom) was what made me move first to Windows 10 Mobile and then (when most of the apps I wanted had disappeared) to an iphone.

        IF we ever see a manufacturer moving to a support model which is network independent and committing to the support cycles Apple do then I may move back but there's no sign of it so far and historically manufactures and networks have never delivered this for Android.

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: To think...

      Are you sure that your name is not Ralph Nader?

      He only uses a mechanical typewriter to write stuff...

      But somehow as if by magic what he writes gets posted on the Interwebs.... Strange that eh?

      For example

      https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/08/12/ralph-nader-once-again-assails-apples-stock-buybacks

      discusses just one of many of his magic postings.

  4. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    TANSTAAFL ...

    ... yet again - the collective wisdom of years has been forgotten.

  5. Mage Silver badge

    Hmm

    No doubt it's all true. Also though a sample of ONE and we don't know how the application got on the phone.

    It's what is called anecdotal. We need a bigger sample of cheap Chinese phones. Send me your cheap Chinese phone to test and a fee of $15. I'll return it if it is clean your reply paid package, otherwise I'll hold it as evidence till we get the miscreants prosecuted at which point the phone will be cleaned and returned.

    It's probably a cheaper service than your local phone repair shop. UK customers after 29th March 2019 need to allow an extra six weeks each way for customs, unless you send it via Turkey, Kenya or Hong Kong.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      Some years ago I bought a Chinese S5 clone that wotk perfectly but, out-of-the box it tried sending SMSs to premium numbers (thankfully I had those blocked at operator level), ad-clicking on a myriad of suspicious sites and sending lots of info to Chinese addresses (the last two blocked by my router settings).

      It took rooting and flashing a new ROM to sort it, but in the end I got a great phone for about a fourth of the S5 cost.

      Who did it? Wwas it the manufacturer, the seller, someone in between? Who knows.

      My only comment is that, if you're not technically savvy and ready to take your chances, you should stay far far away from these off-brand phones.

  6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Environmental footprint

    Cheap Android smartphones aren’t just bad for the environment because they’re destined for landfill

    This is the destiny for most consumer electronics, including premium smartphones. Okay, some of the stuff might get shipped off to third world for, ahem, recycling, ie. letting kids try and burn, solder, scratch whatever they can out of the phone, but the real environmental footprint is in the production of the devices: slave labour in Africa to mine and process the ores for the rare metals (Tantalum, etc.) used in the production of all smartphones.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Environmental footprint

      But if you buy fancy "designed in california" smartphones they have a policy which says that they buy from middle men who have a home-made certificate that says they only source free range organic Tantalum from mines owned by nice people in the DRC

  7. nuked

    What do you expect if you buy a smartphone, off ebay, at a price less than the cost of a new screen on a recently-issued Samsung?

  8. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I had a similar experience with a Doogee smartphone I bought from Amazon last year, they are clever enough to let you use the phone for a while with no malware, the ads and browser redirects started after you had it for a couple of months. That way they can claim that it must be dodgy websites or apps you have download causing the problem and wash their hand of the issue. Several people identified that it was pre-installed apps that Doogee put on the phone that were connecting to servers in China and downloading malware, but Doogee did nothing about it when it was reported to them and the official ROM images on their website still had the malware ridden apps in it for over 12 months.

    Thankfully I am technically savvy enough to be able to root the phone and remove these apps and install a firewall to block which apps can connect to the internet and this solved the malware problem for the time being and later I flashed it with a updated ROM which was clean from malware.

    1. PerlyKing
      WTF?

      "Doogee" smartphone

      With a soft "g"? Seriously?

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: "Doogee" smartphone

        ... Yowzer!

  9. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    "The device grew hot in his pocket, the battery life rapidly dwindled"

    I have had that with my older Android phones. Problem solved by disabling all Google Play Services.

    I don't know what they were doing but they could kill my phone in just a day. Now reliably back to a week or more of standby.

  10. CJ_C
    Coat

    Perhaps the only way

    Is a Fairphone on Ubports...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That well-known manufacturer

    Xgoody

    The idiot that's bought this from eBay essentially deserves everything he got.

    He is either a total idiot, or more likely a security researcher creating news and keeping his master's in Cupertino happy.

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