The developer behind the Simple Mobile Tools suite of open source Android apps are now taking pre-orders for their first phone. As promised, the Simple Phone is a phone that emphasizes privacy by shipping with a de-Googled version of Android called SimpleOS.
It comes with Simple Mobile’s phone dialer, calendar, clock, contacts, music player, and other apps instead of Google’s. And instead of the Google Play Store, it ships with the F-Droid app store pre-installed, allowing you to download free and open source apps. The Simple Phone is available for pre-order now for €399 and it’s expected to begin shipping to customers in Europe on November 1, 2022.
While that price puts the Simple Phone in solid mid-range smartphone territory, a glance at the spec sheet suggests that this phone would have been considered mid-range around three or four years ago.
It’s powered by a MediaTek MT6771 (Helio P60) processor, which is an octa-core chip released in 2018 with four ARM Cortex-A73 CPU cores, four Cortex-A53 cores, and Mali-G72 graphics.
The phone has 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, a 6.53 inch FHD+ LCD display, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.2 and an unspecified version of WiFi. The Simple Phone ships with a version of Android that’s based on Android 11.
Simple Mobile is basically flashing its own software on a pre-existing Android phone to create the Simple Phone, although the company does hope to develop its own original hardware eventually.
There are a few things the phone has going for it. While there’s no headphone jack, the Simple Phone does have a microSD card reader, USB Type-C OTG port, and a 4,5000 mAh battery. The front-facing camera has a 25MP image sensor and there are three rear cameras (48MP + 8MP + 5MP).
Simple Mobile Tools says the phone comes with a 2-year warranty and will receive at least three years of software updates (it’s unclear if those are security updates or major OS updates though).
The phone is carrier unlocked, which means you should be able to use it with any cellular network that’s compatible with the 4G network bands supported by the Simple Phone (it works with (B1/2/3/5/7/8/12/13/17/20/28) TDD(B38/40/41) bands). While the phone’s bootloader is locked by default, Simple Mobile says it can be unlocked by users.
Since Simple Mobile apps are generally lightweight, they should also run smoothly even on older hardware. And while the phone lacks Google Mobile Services certification, it ships with microG installed, which should allow some apps that rely on Google Play Services to function.