The /e/ Foundation has been developing a custom version of Android that doesn’t include Google’s propriety apps and services for a few years, and in 2019 the team began selling refurbished phones with the de-Googled software pre-installed.
At the time the phones were only available for purchase for customers in Europe. But now customers in the US and Canada can buy Google-free Android phones from /e/ as well.
Initially the foundation was focused on Europe because it had a limited supply of refurbished phones and many were designed for use with European wireless networks, with some having limited support for carriers in North America.
Now /e/ has added two new phones to its lineup, and both are available for shipping to the US and Canada:
- Refurbished Samsung Galaxy S9 with /e/ for 355€ ($430)
- Refurbished Samsung Galaxy S9+ with /e/ for 380€ ($460)
Keep in mind that some features may not be fully supported yet – for example you can’t use Voice over LTE and Voice over WiFi with these phones while running the /e/ operating system, but that may change in the future.
But if you’re interested in using a device that runs a version of the world’s most popular smartphone operating system but which doesn’t send data to Google’s servers, that might be a tradeoff worth making. Just keep in mind that what you’re giving up is access to popular services including the Google Play Store.
Instead, /e/ has an installer that lets you use a variety of free and/or open source applications. If you want to know whether an app that you rely on is available, you can use the /e/ Application Checker search engine to find out.
And if you’re interested in using /e/ software but don’t want to buy a new (refurbished) phone, you can always try installing the software yourself if you have a compatible phone – and the list of compatible devices is growing all the time. In the past week or so /e/ has added support for the LG G2, G3, and G5, Asus Zenfone 6 and Razer Phone, and several devices from LeEco including the LeEco Le Pro3 and Le Pro3 Elite.
via It’s Foss