Android-based flip phones and feature phones usually do not have a touch screen, and instead rely on the D-pad, soft keys, and number keys for navigation and data entry. And the screen is small. Nevertheless, these can still run some android apps.
When things don’t work, it is usually because the app requires touch tapping or swiping. Sometimes there are user-interface objects which cannot be reached using the direction keys, and sometimes the cursor ends up stuck in a data entry field with no way to get out.
Some phones have a cursor in the browser, allowing the use of many online sites.
Some f-droid apps which seem to work with Android-based flip phones and feature phones include:
The f-droid app itself: On my phone all I had to do was click on it in the browser at the f-droid.org home page. What works are Latest, Updates, search, install, open, remove. What does not work is Categories, where I am not able to scroll down to see more categories. Once a category is selected it works fine.
Planisphere: Astronomy. Fully operational, if a bit challenging in the small screen.
The Light: Bible. Works fine, unlike its bigger sibling The Life.
tower: Can show a map of what is nearby, including zoom in and out.
OSM Tracker for Android: Tracks your movement on a map. Seems to work.
SecScanQR: QR code reader. Displays the result and allows you to send it to the browser.
AdAway: Ad blocker. My phone allows a local VPN, so AdAway works with its default settings, without root access.
NewPipe: Plays YouTube, SoundCloud, etc. Some limitations with the user interface, but I was able to get it to work well with the phone’s media player. Some resolutions do not include audio, but 360 works well enough and is more than sufficient for the small screen.
Sokoban: Game. There is a (g) version, and I forget which version I have. Perhaps they both work.
MSnake: Game. Warned that it was made for an old version of Android, but does work on this new phone.
Please add to the list any others you come across.
There are many which could work with just a few changes. I may submit some feature requests / bug reports where possible.
If someone knows of a website showing how to develop key handling and navigation for Android flip phones and feature phones, please add it here so other developers can quickly adjust their apps.
Raise to Answer would only work if there is a proximity sensor, which perhaps some feature phone might have, but a flip phone probably won’t, and it can be set to answer when opening the flip, so that’s fine.
Regarding Catima, I shall answer here because it works but it has some issues which are common with other apps when used on flip phones:
The save icon seems to be floating over the contents in the lower right corner. (This is also true of the search icon for the f-droid app.) I can usually get it to work, but it would behave ‘better’ if it were in the regular flow of objects. I can get to the save icon in the ‘card’ tab, but not while in the ‘photos’ tab. The delete icon is easy to get to, so perhaps it could be next to that.
When adding a card, the options allow the entry of notes. This field captures the cursor. The right key adds a space, and the down key starts a new line, but nothing allows me to move to the next field below the notes. I can use the up key to escape to the top, but I cannot get to anything below the notes field. I have seen this in other apps as well.
The third-party mouse probably would make these issues go away, but it requires some work to install. I did request the manufacturer of my particular phone add an app cursor, and they actually replied, saying that it sounds like a good idea for a future release. I’m sure there are other phones without an app cursor, so hopefully it will be easy to adjust the apps slightly.
(And Catima seems like a very practical app for many people.)
Well, the floating icon is as per Android’s official design guidelines. I suppose Google also just forgot Android feature phones exist is that pattern is so unfriendly for feature-phones
Your statement of “if it were in the regular flow of objects” does somewhat confuse me though. After all, as far as the Android OS is concerned, it is just another entry at the end of the list. Under TalkBack just swiping right will eventually get you to the save button. I connected a Bluetooth keyboard to my phone and managed to just press the tab key several times until the save button got focused. In fact, the only issue I have with was getting to the delete icon as I didn’t find a way to reach the app’s menu bar.
Huh, very interesting that is so broken. I wouldn’t have expected such issues given TalkBack has no issues. Again, I couldn’t reproduce this with a bluetooth keyboard, I can just use the TAB key to get out.
Thank you! It’s a shame your device (can you share what device you use?) behaves differently than a regular Bluetooth keyboard as that really harms my ability to reproduce your issues.
I’ll ask the phone maker to allow the speaker and microphone soft keys to behave as tab and shift-tab while inside an app. Currently they do nothing while in an app. This one change will help with many apps.
This is a Kyocera DuraXV, of which there are several varieties. It’s aimed at business / outdoors / industrial / first responder / military. They promise to update it every now and then for a few years after release, and the amazing thing is they actually responded to a feature request.
I just bought the same phone (trying to reduce smartphone usage but still have a little convenience lol).
Go check out apps4flip.com. They have a few apps that you’ll find useful. They’ve modified the apk’s to work better with a flip phone. I got a few from them that work well: ES File Explorer, Weather (kinda janky, i need to find something better), a Waze launcher and Waze–the launcher asks for the destination and then launches Waze properly, a voice control assistant (basically lets you control your phone totally with voice. i’m still testing it out but seems useful. the CLR button takes it out of voice mode in case you activated it), a QR code reader, and a unit converter.
Oh, and the big one is the mouse. You just press *** to toggle its status from D-pad (normal for the phone) -->mouse cursor mode -->scroll mode (really handy)–>back to D-pad mode.
You have to run a few adb commands to get it working (same for the voice control) but it’s worth it and they walk you through it on the website. You can even use Webadb.com to do it (they give the commands for that as well).