Google Android may have been developed as a smartphone operating system (and later ported to tablets, TVs, watches, and other platforms), but over the past few years we’ve seen a number of attempts to turn it into a desktop operating system.

One of the most successful has been Remix OS, which gives Android a taskbar, start menu, and an excellent window management system. The Remix OS team has also generated a lot of buzz over the past year, and this week the operating system gained a lot of new alpha testers thanks to a downloadable version of Remix OS that you can run on many recent desktop or notebook computers.

But Remix OS isn’t the only game in town. Phoenix OS is another Android-as-desktop operating system, and while it’s still pretty rough around the edges, there are a few features that could make it a better option for some testers.

phoenix_01

Some background

I first discovered Phoenix OS from a post in the Remix OS Google Group, although I’ve also found mentions of the operating system at the xda-developers forum, and from the makers of the UP single-board computer with an Intel Cherry Trail chip.

Phoenix OS is available as a downloadable custom ROM that you can install on a Google Nexus 9 or Nexus 10 tablet. But you can also download an x86 version that can be loaded on a USB flash drive and run on a computer.

I took the x86 version for a spin, and found that, like Remix OS for PC, Phoenix OS(x86) seems to be a heavily customized version of Android 5.1 Lollipop based on Android-x86 project code. But unlike Remix OS, you can easily boot Phoenix OS on computers that have 32-bit or 64-bit chips. So far, Remix is a 64-bit only operating system.

Update: Whoops. It does *not* support 32-bit chips. I was mistaken because the download page says the operating system is 32-bit, and it loads on an older laptop that would not work with Remix OS, but that laptop does have a 64-bit processor. When I tried Phoenix OS on a netbook with a 32-bit Intel Atom N270 processor, the operating system would not run. 

Update 2: It looks like one of the first devices to ship with Phoenix OS may be the Alcatel Xess 17.3″ Android all-in-one computer

How it looks

The basic layout of Phoenix OS should be familiar to anyone that’s used Remix OS (or Windows, for that matter). There’s a taskbar and a desktop.

phoenix_02

You can access a menu with a list of your apps as well as shortcuts for settings, computer information, and power options by clicking the Phoenix logo in the bottom left corner. And there are status icons on the right, including a notification icon that brings up a notification window from the right side of the screen.

The first time you launch the app menu it will run in full-screen mode, but you can tap an arrow icon to shrink it so that it just hangs out in the corner of your screen.

phoenix start

Most Android apps can be run in Phoenix OS, but instead of launching in full screen mode, they’ll typically launch in smaller windows. You can maximize most apps to have them fill the whole screen, and some apps and games will only run in this mode. But if you want to view multiple apps at once, you can do that: just drag the sides of the app until the window is the size and shape you’d like and position a bunch of windows around the screen so that you can, for instance, write a Word document while reading your email or surfing the web.

Sometimes when resizing a browser window, I noticed that text/font sizes didn’t automatically adjust to the new size, so I had to refresh the web page. And sometimes after resizing a window, I found it tricky to drag and drop that window to a new position on the screen without accidentally maximizing it. But overall the window system seems to work pretty well.

phoenix_03

The version of Phoenix OS(x86) I downloaded does not include Google Mobile Services, so there’s no Google Play Store, Gmail, Chrome, or other Google apps. But you can easily download and install apps from third-party sources such as APK Mirror.

There’s also a Chinese app store included, but I’ve found that it can be tough to navigate if you don’t read Chinese, and some apps may not be what you think they are.

How to run Phoenix OS(x86)

These instructions assume you’re using a Windows computer. You may need to improvise a bit if you’re using OS X or Linux.

1. Plug a USB flash drive with at least 4GB of disk space into your computer. Make sure to save any important data, since you’re going to wipe all data from the drive in step four.

2. Download the latest Phoenix OS(x86) ZIP from the download page.

3. Download the USBMaker tool from the same page.

4. Run USBMaker.exe and select the ZIP file you just downloaded, the drive letter for your flash drive, and then click the “write” box.

phoenix creator

  • If you can’t read the Chinese characters in the USBMaker.exe tool, the button next to the top line says “browse” and this is what you click to locate your ZIP file.
  • The second entry is for the drive letter. Select the appropriate option.
  • The button next to the third line says “Write,” and this is what you click to start preparing the disk.
  • You’ll see a green progress indicator in the box next to the Write button, and when the process is complete there will be a pop-up to let you know it’s safe to remove your drive or reboot your computer.

5. Once that’s done, just plug the USB flash drive into the computer you want to run Phoenix OS on, boot the computer, and choose the USB flash drive from the boot options menu.

On my Samsung laptop, I hit F10 during boot to choose the flash drive. On an Asus model, I was able to do the same thing by hitting Esc. Your procedure will vary depending on your computer, and not every PC is guaranteed to work.

You might be able to get an idea of whether your system will run Phoenix OS by checking out the hardware compatibility page on the Android-x86 site.

6. The first time you run Phoenix OS you’ll probably be greeted by some Chinese characters. This is a drop-down box that lets you select your language. Just click the box and choose English if you’d prefer to change the default language.

Initial verdict

I don’t know that much about Phoenix OS. It sure looks a lot like Remix OS, but there are a few key differences in settings manager, default file browser, and the way window management works.

At this point it seems to support a wider range of hardware than Remix OS, works with a 4GB USB flash drive (Remix recommends 8GB), and doesn’t seem to have problems running on devices with USB 2.0 ports (Remix recommends USB 3.0).

Like Remix OS, this operating system runs from a USB flash drive and doesn’t make any changes to your computer. You can pull out the flash drive and insert it into another computer and all of your apps and settings will be available. Everything runs in what Remix calls “resident mode,” which means that if you install an app or login to an account, it will all be available next time you boot into Phoenix OS.

Those features certainly go in the Pro category.

phoenix_04

But the developers of Remix OS have released their own hardware and worked with tablet and notebook makers to release official builds of the operating system for those devices. So they’ve got a lot of expertise in this area… and the company that develops Remix OS was founded by three former Google employees who are still in touch with folks at their former employer to make sure their software is compatible with Google’s guidelines.

Given that I don’t know very much about the developers  of Phoenix OS, I wasn’t particularly anxious to try loading Google Mobile Services on the device and enter my Google account credentials. But I don’t really have a problem doing that with Remix OS.

Still, Phoenix OS definitely seems like a project worth keeping an eye on.

 

Support Liliputing

Liliputing's primary sources of revenue are advertising and affiliate links (if you click the "Shop" button at the top of the page and buy something on Amazon, for example, we'll get a small commission).

But there are several ways you can support the site directly even if you're using an ad blocker* and hate online shopping.

Contribute to our Patreon campaign

or...

Contribute via PayPal

* If you are using an ad blocker like uBlock Origin and seeing a pop-up message at the bottom of the screen, we have a guide that may help you disable it.

73 replies on “Phoenix OS is (another) Android-as-a-desktop”

  1. your article is misleading. I have ran the 32 bit version on 32 bit processors… but you can’t run any android kernel on atom or celeron 32 bit processors by default because they lack SSE 3.

  2. I found this article very interesting. https://www.azheblog.tk/2016/01
    apparently this guy rewrote the entire article in Indonesian language. It is exactly the same article, same pictures posted in here, explaining the exact same thing, just presented in different language.

  3. Downloaded this and run it on my win 8.1 tablet/netbook hybrid. Wifi works great but the touchscreen don’t work (It doesn’t work in AndroidX86 too though), gyroscope is working but upside down (same issue with AndroidX86).

    And no, while you can install Play Store on Remix OS, you can’t install it on this. And no you can’t run MS Office android version on this since it requires an ARM processor (interestingly, it runs like normal on Remix OS, on the same PC). it gives you WPS Office built-in though.

    As a basic OS, it is more polished than Remix OS. The file manager automatically detected my internal HDD (even in NTFS format. While on Remix OS it stays undetected). The multitasking –such as listening to music while doing anything else– also works better on Phoenix OS. And the built-in Chromium browser does a good job to make you feel like using a desktop browser (the basic operation is so similar with desktop Chrome version).

    So this will become one of my toy if I get bored with windows/mac/ubuntu. And certainly one OS you can use in emergency situation such as that time when windows won’t boot.

    1. Five months ago, as you wrote your comment, and now again, as I write mine

  4. At the end, Phoenix OS is it or isn’t suitable for x86 processors? I have a Windows Tablet with an Intel Z3740 chip and I’d like to try/install Phoenix OS on my device

    1. I had the same issue. If its a desktop, try disconnecting the graphic card and connect with onboard card.

  5. I will try this in 2019, when the download is complete. Seriously China, don’t use a potato as a server.

    1. Aha-ha 😀
      I downloaded it in 15 minutes.
      They got your advice and changed a potato to a normal server or you had slow internet

  6. In my HP Laptop the OS charge and I can use it by 20 minutes but then network collapses and the display goes black. Any other people experience that beheavior?

  7. gotta feel sorry for these big gubment supporters after 7 years of privacy hell..

  8. “there’s no Google Play Store, Gmail, Chrome, or other Google apps. But you can easily download and install apps from third-party sources such as APK Mirror.”

    Did you test this or are you just saying that? Because I tried and failed, as well as every other thread I’ve read on android-x86 forums. This is a pretty huge generalization to make. If you were able to successfully do it please share!

  9. Yep, imagine where Android might be if Google hadn’t fed it into the clutches of the Chromium team who work hard to subvert desktop Android usage to maintain their existance.

    1. I think chrome os was a dumb idea in the first place I mean you have a perfectly good os that is compatible with a lot of apps then you build another based on a browser…

  10. I cant see youtube videos, perhaps Phoenix dont have the codecs.

      1. But with aptoide i can install tubemate and I see youtube videos lol

    1. Google Videoder and all your Youtube troubles will be over, you can watch, download any clip in any format you want.. It’s easily in the top 10 Android apps out there.

  11. Network drive access is high on my priority list, and I can’t figure out how to do it in RemixOS without using a separate app like ES file explorer. Also, the built-in video player wouldn’t play some types of audio (the video showed but no sound). I tried VLC but it wouldn’t get out of windowed mode for some reason. Maybe they have patched it since, like they did Netflix.

  12. Any right click functions? And scroll wheel click to open a tab in the BG would be nice to have too.

    1. Remix for 64bit.. phoenix for 32bit..until they make other releases. So really no choice.

      1. Finally, is it or isn’t suitable for x86 processors? I have a Windows tablet with Intel Z3740 chip and I’d like to try/install Phoenix OS in mi device

  13. The fact that Jide and now Phoenix originate from China doesn’t scare anyone? I’m going to give them a try as htpc alternative’s and Android on TV curiosities but don’t foresee logging into any of my real personal accounts on any of these operating systems.

    1. I don’t expect Jide to steal any more of your information than Google. But I understand your point. I agree with you completely and for that reason I’ll stick with ubuntu when I need to extend the life of an older pc.

        1. They have a different expression for it: “enhancing your web experience.”

          1. They do, indeed, not unlike a kidnapper gives access to the kidnapped. After the fact and for a price. You can get by fine without Google, Google assures us. It is not like Google doesn’t give us value in return. Again, just like a kidnapper.

          2. Google products most definitely have value. No point in discussing it if they didn’t. It is the ethics of the practice of “data mine first, ask questions later” that is suspect. Oh, yes and use something else is a good idea, too.

          3. I’m guessing your’re one of those people who thinks Google should be able to give you directions without knowing your location?

        2. If I remember correctly there was an incident where google hacked many wifi routers and collected information. Dont remember much.

          1. From what I remember they didn’t hack routers, they drove around and collected publicly broadcasted ssid’s (your wifi name).

      1. So American OSes are okay? How many more NSA/CIA whistle blowers do you need to wake up?

        1. They are not okay but at the same time you can’t compare the US to a government that forbids linking to politically unacceptable messages. In mid-2013 police across China announced the arrests of hundreds of people accused of spreading false rumors online. We wouldn’t be having this convo if the US was the same way.

          1. That comparison is not fare. US doesn’t have as dense population when compared to its size. Spreading rumors would end up in arrest even in India. Where the same problem persists, highly dense areas. In places like this a rumor can cause a serious problem.

          2. “Spreading rumors would end up in arrest even in India.”
            “In places like this a rumor can cause a serious problem.”

            Last time I heard, India didn’t forbid religion. In fact, it was highly a religious country. Religion is that, an ancient rumor that still lives. So I take it only “some” rumors are forbidden, those who doesn’t fit the leaders? 🙂

          3. Any rumor that the state feels can result in riots or hurting the sentiments of many ppl’s. Ofcourse the government is not so strict on minorities but thats because even today they are treated as vote banks.

      1. The NSA isn’t going to steal your credit card information or drain your bank account. Chinese hackers will, given half a chance.

        1. Yeah. Tens of millions of credit card numbers stolen from Target/etc and people are still jumping at the NSA.

          1. because their back-doors are the passageways for all the rest of hacking criminals …..

          2. “The rest”? What’re they doing, biding their time? Companies’ “security” systems are a spaghetti strainer at best. Remember Sony storing everyone’s usernames and passwords in plaintext?

          1. A serious question: have you read the Remix EULA? It states that you give full control of everything you do to Jide and that you mustn’t offend or damage the Chinese government by any means. I’ll just wait until xda churns up an open-source fork for that matter. At least the NSA doesn’t slap it on your face, and, well, I’m out of the US or any place with any valuable resources but natural monuments.

    2. Not for the simple fact that they are from China but I also have the same problem with Remix and Phoenix to simply go on and log on to all my accounts.
      At least if Google steals, Google does not need to steal my Google password because they probably already know it 🙂

    3. Well given all the evidence about what the FBI/CIA/NSA/GHCQ/MI5/MI6 do to the worlds computers and routers why on earth would you be scared of China?

Comments are closed.