When you buy an Android smartphone, you know that Google’s services and apps come as part of the experience. However, there’s one company offering Android devices that are free of Google, and those smartphones are now available to US customers.
As Liliputing reports, the /e/ Foundation has been offering refurbished smartphones running Android, but “deGoogled” since 2019. The focus back then was on Europe due to a limit on the supply of phones available for refurbishment, but the situation has now changed and there’s enough stock to start offering Google-free handsets in the US.
(Photo: /e/ Foundation)
Initially, two phones are being made available: a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S9 for $380, and a Galaxy S9+ for $430. They are classed an “premium refurbished,” which means the phones are fully-functional, the battery has been tested, and the camera works perfectly. They are also backed by a one-year warranty, are carrier unlocked, and include a headset, quick start guide, and SIM tray pin in the box.
So what does a Google-free Android phone actually mean? The Android without Google operating system is called /e/ OS and as the Foundation explains, “We have removed many pieces of code that send your personal data to remote servers without your consent. We don’t scan your data in your phone or in your cloud space, and we don’t track your location hundred times a day or collect what you’re doing with your apps.”
You do lose access to the Google Play Store, but your refurbished phone ships with open source apps “to cover most of your needs: browser, email, calendar, maps, camera …. And because /e/OS runs on Android, you can still run most of your favorite Android apps.” There’s over 60,000 free apps available directly from the phone, too, and you can check before purchasing if apps you rely on will still work by using the Application Checker.