Fairphone is teaming up with /e/OS to launch a “de-googled” version of its flagship smartphone, the Fairphone 3 . This new handset has the same hardware features as the regular Fairphone, but without Google’s online services. The idea is to create a privacy-first device that, should people require, removes the more invasive elements of surveillance capitalism from your devices.
From May 6th, people can buy a Fairphone 3 with /e/ pre-installed for €480 , a slight premium over the €450 it costs for the Android edition. The company says that it polled members of its community for which alternative OS it should offer, and they backed /e/OS over a number of others. And /e/OS offers better privacy by design, with “unwanted data flows” being shut down, giving you better control of what your phone is doing.
Existing Fairphone 3 owners will also be able to switch to /e/OS, and an installer is already available on the /e/Foundation's website .
If you’re unfamiliar, /e/OS was founded by Gaël Duval, a French developer known for creating Mandrake / Mandriva Linux and Ulteo. /e/’s manifesto is to remove the surveillance from smartphones, eliminating tracking and services that are hooked into Google's broader ecosystem.
The software itself is based on a form of Android AOSP, built on top of LineageOS , itself a fork of CyanogenMod . It's worth saying that this isn’t likely to be something amateurs will look to use, but knowledgeable types who can work around these limits.
This is the latest in a very long line of niche, privacy-focused phones that have tried and often struggled to break into the mainstream. Blackphone , Purism , HTC Exodus and Sirin’s Solarin , amongst others, have boasted about how people would be better off without Google in their lives. These days, of course, Huawei is also joining the ranks of companies making de-Googleified devices, albeit not through choice .