I wouldn't trust any article that lists a Samsung phone as a "great phone for modding" without significant disclaimers. Samsungs can sometimes be unlocked, but it's always the crappy processor, non US/CAN models, or a paid service. Both have significant drawbacks. And last I checked, the dev community for Samsung devices is terrible, as Samsung intentionally killed it off when they started locking bootloaders after the note4.sorry to perpetuate the rant - perhaps a question for LuK1337 and others who are considering their next phones - which one should we be preparing to move to?
what experience do you have besides Oneplus, and would any of the ones listed here be your top pick?
Maximize your phone's potential by diving deeper.www.androidcentral.com
The following are 9 best phones for custom ROMs that are friendly to root. These can be used to run LineageOS easily as they have an unlocked bootloader.dekisoft.com
my concern is whether pixels are probably even smaller in production numbers and dev community? is there any easy way to compare the development activity by brand and over time (eg github profile)?
The real answer to your question is probably there isn't a true replacement for OnePlus devices, modding wise. The Essential phone was supposed to be, but flopped immediately. The Nothing phone is supposed to be, but I'm not super optimistic.
Pixel phones are pretty much the only alternative. They have unlockable bootloaders, timely kernel sources (I think?), and a good development community. Unfortunately I'm not a fan of the hardware, but at least there's a backup plan.
There's other hackable phones. But none that hit that sweet spot that OnePlus phones used to.
And yes, you can check the actual amount of development being done on LineageOS behind the scenes, but I've never found that to necessarily correlate to the actual health of the development community. I think checking here on XDA by phone model is probably a better way to get a feel for the development community and their investment in said device.
Personally, I'm going to ride my 8t into the ground and reassess in a year or two. Hopefully things will have improved for any brand/device by then