Most phones that ship with Google’s Android operating system also come with a bunch of Google apps and services installed. But Android is open source software, so independent developers have been finding ways to de-Google Android for years.
One of the more recent options comes from developer Gaël Duval and the /e/ Foundation. The /e/ operating system is an Android-based OS for folks that don’t want to share their data with Google. Key Google apps and services have been replaced with alternatives such as MicroG, Signal, and Telegram.
Prefer to just buy a phone that comes pre-loaded with /e/? That’s coming soon.
The foundation has announced that it will soon begin selling refurbished smartphones with /e/ for 279€ (~$310) and up.
Each phone will come with a 1-year warranty, support all major wireless carriers, and the /e/ Foundation says it will only sell “Grade A (best refurbished quality)” phones.
At launch, the plan is to offer four smartphone models:
- Samsung Galaxy S7 w/32GB for 279€
- Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge w/32GB for 299€
- Samsung Galaxy S9 w/64GB for 499€
- Samsung Galaxy S9+ w/64GB for 549€
By selling refurbished phones, the folks at /e/ don’t have to sink money into research, development, and manufacturing of original hardware. The organization also helps extend the lifespan of existing hardware, which makes this a win/win for folks that value both privacy and environmental sustainability.
That said, the selection of smartphones is rather limited and you are paying for previous-gen hardware. And /e/ isn’t actually selling phones yet. The organization is asking folks who are interested in buying one of the phones to click the “I’m interested” button to register their interest. The foundation says it’ll notify potential customers when the phones are actually available for purchase.
Still, if you’ve been looking for an Android-like operating system without the Google and don’t feel like going through the trouble of manually replacing all the Google apps and services on your phone or installing a custom ROM, this does seem like an interesting new alternative.