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Submission + - Viability of cell phone without cell network?

An anonymous reader writes: I am the owner of an ageing Nokia 770 web tablet needing replacement. I do not intend to buy a voice or data plan, but phone HW running Android would seem to be the obvious choice. I am willing to pay for an unlocked phone. I require at least one MicroSD slot.

This area seems to be a field of traps for a cell phone novice. I have found it difficult to find answers to these questions:

* For a device I intend to carry with me, it seems foolish to not use full disk encryption. In Linux I can easily do that with a loopback mount in fstab over aes256. Can I do something similar on a phone?

* Any phone I buy must become mine after purchase. I have a zero tolerance policy for remote or forced updates, blocked installs or removals, or any form of tracking. Is installing a firmware like cyanogenmod sufficient, or does the vendor still retain some control via bootloaders?

* I have a zero tolerance policy towards software "phoning home". Is there a good firewall to put me in control of the network traffic?

* I will use 802.11, not 3G/4G, and when away from 802.11 accept the lack of connectivity. If I yank the SIM, will this severely restrict the software I can run? Will the phone even work?

* Can I make calls through my (SIP compliant) VOIP provider over 802.11?

* I'm old (early 60's) and even with reading glasses, struggle with small screens. Can Android change the default font size for all apps?

* Lastly, which phones have the fewest ethical issues? I have rejected Apple devices over lockdown and app store control and censorship. Android seems better, but still bad. For example, I like the HTC MyTouch 4G hardware, but by default it permits no root access to your own device, a situation I find ethically problematic. I do not wish to support such practices with my dollars. It can be rooted, although even that has been reported not to work on some newer phones. I'm aware of the GeeksPhone, which seems to be ethically clear and fully owned by the purchaser, but has very primitive hardware. I'm also aware of the N900 which I have rejected for other reasons. Does there exist a phone that is both owned upon purchase *and* state of the art HW?

Any insight from slashdotters to help a poor cell phone novice make sense of it all is greatly appreciated!
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Viability of cell phone without cell network?

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