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What’s a smartphone without Google?

A Google-free smartphone, also known as a deGoogled smartphone, refers to a phone that runs on a version of Android that has been modified to exclude all Google services and applications, such as the Google Play Store. Typically, these phones use alternative Android-based operating systems, such as LineageOS or /e/OS, which are designed to offer the same basic experience as Android, but without the integration of Google services such as the Google Play Store, Gmail, Maps and YouTube.

Choosing a Google-free smartphone often comes down to a question of preference and need. The main attraction of these smartphones is the increased protection of privacy. By eliminating Google’s services, users limit the amount of personal data shared with the company. However, this can also lead to drawbacks, such as compatibility problems with certain applications that depend on Google services to function properly. In addition, these devices may not receive updates as frequently or as quickly as standard Android phones.

Installing a non-Google operating system on a phone requires a technical process called ‘flashing’, which can be complicated and risky, and can even invalidate the phone’s warranty. In short, opting for a Google-free smartphone is a choice that prioritises confidentiality and independence from Google services, but it requires a degree of technical expertise and may involve compromises in terms of access to applications and ease of use.

Why choose a Google-free smartphone?

Choosing a smartphone without Google is a decision that often reflects a desire for privacy and independence in the world of mobile tech. These smartphones run Android, a flexible operating system, but without Google’s built-in services and applications. The absence of these services means less sharing of personal data with Google, offering more privacy to users concerned about protecting their information.

On the positive side, a smartphone without Google services often offers greater control over personal data. Users who are concerned about how their data is collected and used find this particularly reassuring and attractive. What’s more, these models can sometimes offer better value for money, while maintaining high quality in terms of design, battery life and performance.

However, there are sometimes drawbacks to consider. Users of some non-Google smartphones may find themselves limited in their choice of apps, as the Google Play Store is the main source of apps for Android. Although there are alternatives for downloading applications, they may not always have the same range or quality of applications as the Play Store. What’s more, some models may not be as sharp in terms of optimising performance and battery life as the best smartphones from brands like Samsung, which fully integrate Google services.

In terms of functionality, some non-Google smartphones may be less intuitive for those used to the Google ecosystem. For example, applications such as Google Photos, which offer easy photo storage and organisation, need to be installed separately. In conclusion, choosing a smartphone without Google depends on the user’s priorities. If data privacy and price are key considerations, such a model may be an excellent choice. However, this may mean compromising on the availability of applications, ease of use and certain features to which Android users are accustomed, although some Google-free smartphones offer a very high level of user experience.

What are the smartphone options without Google?

Google-free smartphones represent a unique segment of the market, offering users alternatives focused on privacy and personalisation. Here are the different options available:

Alternative operating systems: Smartphones without Google are often based on Android operating systems, but without the integration of Google services.

LineageOS: This is an open-source version of Android, popular for its flexibility and respect for privacy. LineageOS is devoid of Google applications and services by default, offering a pure Android experience.

/e/OS: Designed with privacy in mind, /e/OS is an unglobalised version of Android. It replaces Google services with privacy-friendly alternatives, and offers a very high level of user experience. /e/OS is preinstalled on Murena brand smartphones.

Dedicated smartphones: Some manufacturers offer smartphones pre-installed with non-Google operating systems.

Murena Fairphone with /e/OS: Fairphone, known for its sustainable and ethical smartphones, offers models with /e/OS pre-installed, providing an alternative that respects the environment and privacy.

PurismLibrem5: This smartphone runs PureOS, a Linux-based operating system that focuses on security and privacy. The Librem 5 is designed to be completely free of any proprietary software, including Google.

Alternative Application Stores: Without the Google Play Store, these smartphones use alternative application shops.

F-Droid: This is an open-source application shop that offers free, open-source applications. It is popular among non-Google smartphone users for its transparency and respect for privacy.

Aurora Store: An alternative to the Google Play Store, Aurora Store allows users to access Play Store applications without the need for Google services.

/e/OS App Lounge: This app shop is designed to provide users with the full range of apps available on the Play Store, with an emphasis on privacy. It covers a wide range of essential needs, including social media, messaging, browsing and productivity apps. Each application is accompanied by details of required permissions and application trackers. This information enables users to make informed choices. App Lounge from /e/OS offers up-to-date applications and automatic updates, providing a complete alternative for those who value privacy.

Opting for a Google-free smartphone is a decision motivated primarily by concerns about privacy and control over personal data. These devices offer an alternative to the Google-dominated ecosystem, although in some cases this may mean giving up certain popular conveniences and applications. Customisation and the choice of an alternative operating system can offer a unique user experience, tailored to those who prioritise security and privacy.

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