The makers of the world’s most ethical smartphone, the Fairphone 3, have teamed up for a version of the device with even less big tech on board.
The Netherlands-based device maker has partnered with France’s /e/OS to offer a “de-Googled” version of its latest handset, running an Android AOSP fork out of the box that’s itself built atop a fork of CyanogenMod (remember them?) — called LineageOS (via Engadget).
“The deGoogled Fairphone 3 is most likely the first privacy conscious and sustainable phone,” runs the blurb on /e/OS’ website. “It combines a phone that cares for people and planet and an OS and apps that care for your privacy.”
A pithy explainer of its “privacy by design ecosystem” — and the point of “Android without Google” — further notes: “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 a hundred times a day or collect what you’re doing with your apps.”
When the Fairphone 3 launched last September it came with Android 9 preloaded. But the company touted a post-launch update that would make it easy for buyers to wipe Google services off their slate and install the Android Open Source Project, which it recommended for advanced users.
The new /e/OS flavor offers a third OS option.
Per Engadget, Fairphone said it polled members of its community asking which alternative OS to offer and /e/OS got more votes than a number of others. The company also highlighted /e/OS’ privacy by design as a factor in the choice, lauding how it shuts down “unwanted data flows,” meaning users have more control over what their phone is doing.
The e/OS flavor of the Fairphone 3 ships from May 6, priced at just under €480 — a €30 premium on the Googley flavor of Android you get on the standard Fairphone 3.
Existing owners of Fairphone’s third-gen handset can manually install /e/OS gratis via an installer on its website.
When the Fairphone 3 launched last year the company told us only around 5% of Fairphone users opt to go full open source — which suggests the /e/OS Fairphone 3 will be a niche choice for even these discerning buyers.