The developers of the /e/OS operating system have been offering an Android-based operating system stripped of Google’s proprietary apps and services for five years. For the past few years you’ve even been able to buy phones that come with /e/OS pre-installed, first in Europe, and more recently in North America.
But up until recently that meant buying a third-party phone that had had its default software replaced with this “deGoogled” Android. Now you the e Foundation has launched a first-party phone called the Murena One.
The Murena One will be available in the US, Canada, Europe, the UK and Switzerland in June, and it will sell for $379, $479 CAD, £291, 346€, and 292 CHF in each of those regions, respectively.
Like all of the phones the e Foundation sells, the Murena One ships without the Google play Store, Gmail, Google Chrome, Google Maps, Google Search, or any of the other proprietary software that comes with most Android phones sold in countries other than China.
On the one hand, that could make the phones a bit less useful for some users. But it also makes them much better suited for folks who value privacy. Google makes most of its money from advertising, and a big part of that comes in the form of tracking software that monitors user behavior.
Some folks may choose to opt out of that tracking altogether by using a Linux phone… but mobile Linux is still very much a work in progress and only a handful of phones come pre-loaded with Linux software. A deGoogled Android phone offers the advantages of a robust, open source operating system that’s very similar to the software that already ships on billions of devices. And most Android apps will work on an /e/OS device, including many that normally rely on Google Mobile services, thanks to the use of microG.
That said, the Murena One clearly isn’t the phone for people who want the fastest processor, the most RAM, or the best cameras. It’s a decidedly mid-range device with a MediaTek Helio P60 processor, just 4GB of RAM, and an FHD+ LCD display. And unlike some phones aimed at enthusiasts, it doesn’t have a user replaceable battery… although it does have a microSD card reader and headset jack.
Here’s a run-down of key specs for the Murena One:
|Murena One specs|
2242 x 1080 pixels
|Processor||MediaTek Helio P60|
4 x Cortex-A73 CPU cores @ 2 GHz
4 x Cortex-A53 CPU cores @ 2 GHz
ARM Mali-G72 graphics
Based on a LineageOS build… that’s based on Android 10
|Cameras||48MP + 8MP + 5MP (rear)primary|
|Battery||4,500 mAh (non-removable)|
microSD card reader
4G LTE (bands: B1 / B2 / B3 / B5 / B7 / B8 / B12 / B13 / B17 / B20 / B28 / B38 / B40 / B41)
3G (bands: B2 / B3 / B5 / B8)
Dual nano SIM (one slot shared with microSD card reader)
|Other||Fingerprint reader (side mounted)|
|Dimensions||161.8 x 76.9 x 8.9mm|
|Price||$379 / $479 CAD / £291 / 346€|
According to the e Foundation, the Murena One is carrier unlocked, comes with a 2-year warranty, and will received software updates and security updates for at least 3 years (with updates typically rolling out every other month).
One thing to keep in mind though, is that in addition to shipping without some of the software that many folks typically associate with Android phones, the Murena One ships with what’s essentially a fork of a fork of Android. The /e/OS software is based on LineageOS, an operating system that’s forked from Google’s Android Open Source Project code. In this case, the phone is shipping with the latest version of /e/OS, but that’s based on Android 10, which is a rather old version of Google’s operating system. Most modern phones ship with Android 12, while Google is preparing to release Android 13 later this year.
If you want a sense of what the Murena One can and cannot do, The Verge has a hands-on.
If the battery is non removable then it still is a tracking device . This scam to make ppl THINK they are safe and buy a crappy phone at dame time
What does a removable battery have to do with tracking? I could see what you meant if you said cellular modem, which is giving your position to cell towers for as long as it’s on.
The Murena Terracube sold in US has removable battery.
previous low cost murena-phone was gigaset made in germany smartphone with removable (chine) battery and 2-year warranty … now made in murena & x2 price as volla-phone but it made in germany (origin microg)
I’ve been trying out e/os on an old Nexus 5X & and it performs surprisingly well, so the processor/RAM on the Morena One should be ok.
I also found the day-to-day software experience to be smoother than any Linux I’ve ever tried, so for somebody who doesn’t view the phone as a hobby, and wants it to work right away, the Murena One + e/os is a good choice.
If you are indeed concerned with privacy, the e app store rates each app and has details on tracking and permissions.
The main issue I found is that very few
finance apps are available, so it’s tough to use as primary phone. But there are Revolut, WeBull, Wirex,… I use it as backup.
As long as you don’t need 5G you could just grab a Huawei if you want a degoogled Android smartphone…
I don’t think most people who are interested in custom ROMs would be satisfied by replacing one botnet with another one. It’s about how phones shouldn’t be doing any kind of data mining or psychological manipulation of their users at all.
I think the verge is overselling how much they actually put into the OS just a little. Most of the “apps to do something” already exist on F-Droid when they’re not a part of AOSP to begin with, but /e/ specific ones do offer features others don’t. Magic Earth displays a full 3d model of the Earth and is more straightforward about address searching than OSM& (but it’s not as good at navigation). You don’t have to use Murena services either, it’s just handy if you need another email address. App Lounge can pull apps from the Play Store, but not as many as the Aurora Store. Given F-Droid and the Aurora Store you’ll have access to any app you could possibly need, so that’s really not a point against it like the Verge thinks.
Notably, Lineage doesn’t have microg unless you crowbar it in there, but I’ve never found that to be a problem. I think David Price didn’t really ask enough people about degoogling android, since he didn’t consider Newpipe.
I think going about computers with the expectation that any setting you make can simply be left alone is silly and shortsighted. The advantage of /e/ over Lineage isn’t the ease of general use, they’re about the same. The advantage is that (at least when you buy a phone with it) all the hardware works out of the box and there’s more dedication to fixing driver issues, so you can expect VoLTE and GPS to work without having to root the device and try and reverse engineer the correct configuration files.
Oh and about this phone in particular? Well, as far as I can tell if you don’t care that it’s glued shut or that it’s bigger, it’s probably worth the price difference between it and the Teracube that they also sell.
a mistake, it must be 292 CHF in Switzerland instead of 292€ (it is 346€ in Euro zone)
My bad. They used the Euro symbol on their website, so I just copied that.