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Privacy tip: These Android phones are Google-free

When you set out to find a new mobile phone, you generally have two options for operating systems: Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android.

They have been the dominant players in the market for years, as others have fallen by the wayside. iOS is naturally only available on Apple devices. But since Android is open-source software, it is used by many brands like Samsung, Huawei and LG. Tap or click to set up this Android privacy feature before you need it.

But a company is now giving you a third option. It’s not a new operating system but rather an Android smartphone that runs without Google’s code. Let’s take a look at how they work.

Here’s the backstory

The /e/ Foundation is tapping into the renewed focus on data privacy by selling “deGoogled” smartphones. Essentially, the company’s /e/OS operating system is Android, with Google utilities stripped out of it.

Currently on sale are refurbished Samsung Galaxy S9 and S8 models, as well as two Fairphone variants. Refurbished means that it has been used before, but quality checks have been done to ensure everything functions properly.

“Your future smartphone has been used before. Nevertheless, it has been checked and reconditioned to be fully working at our partner’s facilities. We only select smartphones ‘Good-as-New’ so there are no surprises. In total, more than 35 points are checked on each device to guaranty the best possible experience,” the description on the website reads.

What is /e/OS?

Imagine the Android operating system, but you don’t need a Gmail address to sign in or receive updates. Its proprietary software has an open-source Android OS core, but no Google apps or services are loaded onto it.

But if Gmail isn’t on the phone, how do you access your email? The company has made its own versions of the most-used functions like mail, calendar and web browser. All your other Android apps will also work on the phone, as they use the same coding foundation.

And with a focus on privacy, the operating system can scan any app from an app store to calculate how many trackers are in it, what data it collects and the number of permissions the app requires to operate.

Like Google, the /e/ Foundation will provide you with an account used to back up your data and keep your information safe. The email address comes with 1GB of default storage but can be upgraded if needed.

To have a look at the models with /e/OS on offer, click here to navigate to the official website.

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