For most people, Android is synonymous with Google and almost inconceivable without it. It’s an association that some, including ROM makers and even phone makers like Samsung, have been trying to break unsuccessfully for years. The recent situation involving Huawei has only reinforced the conception of how intricately tied the open source Android platform is with Google’s proprietary software. That’s why two companies are now joining forces to create a phone that is not only easily repairable but also free of any proprietary Google product.
Although not exactly the modular phone of fantasies, Fairphone has long been making phones with modular components to make them more repair-friendly. The goal isn’t exactly to be a fancy hi-tech phone but one that is more sustainable and environment-friendly, reducing the amount of e-waste that we produce from “throwaway” expensive phones.
The other half of this new duo is /e/, created by Gael Duval, founder of one of the earliest Linux distributions. /e/ is just of the few attempts at trying to create a completely “de-Googled” Android system, one that is based on LineageOS (formerly CyanogenMod) and uses the microG services to let apps think there are still Google Play services installed. /e/’s problem, however, is that it has to settle for using old, existing Android phones.
That’s where this “/e/OS Fairphone 3” partnership comes in, offering users a new-ish Fairphone 3 that has /e/OS pre-installed so users won’t have to do it themselves. Launched last year, the Fairphone 3 has moderate specs for a mid-range phone, running on a Snapdragon 632 with 4GB of RAM and a 5.65-inch Full HD+ screen. The appeal of this phone has always been its repairability but now fans can even get one that might satisfy their privacy concerns over regular Android firmware.
All of that will cost you 479.90 EUR, roughly $520, available for pre-order now. The phone probably won’t appeal that much to regular consumers exactly due to the lack of Google Play Store and apps but it could tickle the fancy of more privacy-conscious mobile users.