What are some original Android phones
Free your device
Free your Android
Although Android is largely free software, the usual equipment of devices with proprietary software and services prevents independent, self-determined use. Free your Android device: Learn how to regain control of your data - with a free operating system and free apps!
Free software apps
For beginners, the easiest thing to do is to start getting rid of mobile apps. We'll show you app stores for free software only and present some apps for the most common everyday situations, such as short messages, navigation or games.
Free software operating systems
Most of the operating systems on phones that you can buy aren't free. They contain pre-installed proprietary software that restrict your freedoms and damage your privacy. More experienced users should therefore install a mobile operating system that is as free as possible.
For most, the Google Play Store is the only source of supply for their applications. This program doesn't even tell you whether a program is free software, let alone what license it is under. Most of the programs offered there are unfortunately proprietary. Even if you install an app that is free software, you have to trust a binary file that is no longer controllable. In addition, the use of Google Play, which is itself proprietary, requires a Google account. We recommend avoiding the Google Play Store altogether.
The F-Droid Initiative was created to improve the sad existence of Free Software in the world of Android. It provides a collection of easy-to-install Free Software and also a client for Android that makes it easy for you to search through the software collection, install programs and keep them up to date. Apps on F-Droid have no hidden costs, are suitable for children and are transparent with regard to possible undesirable functions.
The F-Droid collection offers access to different versions for each application. You can also create and integrate your own software directories. Since the initiative is very active and F-Droid, with its decentralized structure, invites you to participate, it is usually not necessary to create your own directories. The aim of the initiative is to include all useful free software for Android, as well as all corresponding updates, in its collection.
We've put together some information on how you can help F-Droid.
Selected applications for common use cases
Fortunately, today we live in a world in which we can choose from a wide variety of free software apps for almost any use case. This section is intended to show a small selection of apps that are suitable for beginners. Such a list can never be perfect for each individual case. We also recommend that you take a look at the complete F-Droid directory or check out the app recommendations from PRISM Break, Me and My Shadow, or Security in a Box.
In F-Droid you can find many web browsers for different types of users. Probably the best known is Mozilla's Firefox Mobile, which is available in a completely free software version as Fennec. Another alternative is its GNU adaptation IceCatMobile. Users who prefer resource-efficient and privacy-friendly apps could also try Firefox Klar (also known as Firefox Focus).
K-9 Mail allows its users to add multiple email accounts and offers a wide range of functions. It also supports integration with encryption apps like OpenKeychain and is able to read GnuPG-encrypted messages.
The situation of free software short message apps is complicated. While there are 100% free software solutions like Conversations and Zom (for XMPP / Jabber, iOS users can use ChatSecure), Delta Chat (uses email), or Riot.im (uses Matrix), they likely will not be very common among your friends because their userships are relatively small. Other apps are completely or partially free software, but suffer from other undesirable functions, such as dependencies on non-free servers and libraries or no server federation such as Signal or Wire. There are some initiatives in place to make short messaging as free, secure, decentralized and user-friendly as possible and we hope to make clearer recommendations in the future.
A variety of free software apps let you enjoy the picture and sound on your mobile phone. Notable apps are NewPipe as a lightweight interface for YouTube that adds some unique features, the VLC player for videos or RadioDroid to be able to hook up to thousands of radio stations. If you like podcasts, you can enjoy the AntennaPod.
When you are traveling, your mobile phone can be of help. Transportr is familiar with public transport networks in countries and cities around the world. OsmAnd provides you with detailed offline and online maps, no matter where you are, and also includes a navigation mode when you are on your bike or car.
F-Droid includes various mobile games for all tastes. Puzzle fans, for example, could infect 2048, while sandpit fans can play Minetest in single and multiplayer modes. For fans of 1010! there are 1010! Klooni.
The operating systems
An operating system is a collection of software that enables you to use your phone and other software on your device. Although Android is largely free, many phones come with proprietary components and add-ons. Some devices even have a locked boot loader that prevents the installation and use of other operating systems. If you buy an Android device, make sure that the bootloader can be unlocked.
Some devices can only be unlocked with nifty hacks, and their manufacturers tend to void your warranty if you unlock the device's bootloader. But according to European Directive 1999/44 / CE, the mere fact that you have modified or changed the software on your device is not sufficient justification to void your legal warranty - see Carlo Piana's and Matija Šuklje's analysis for more information. But there are also companies that deliver devices with the bootloader already unlocked or that give you the option to unlock the devices. You should check to see if there are free versions of Android available for your device.
Replicant is a variant of Android that is 100% free software. Unfortunately, it only supports very few devices.
We ask you to help Replicant expand its support to more devices. You can contribute code and donate equipment that the Replicant team can use for testing purposes.
LineageOS is a version of Android that you can use without a Google account. While it's usually freer than the software that came with your device, freedom isn't its main focus. While LineageOS runs on most Android devices, it makes use of non-free device drivers and firmware that are extracted from a device and built into the ROM. LineageOS is the best known spin-off from the terminated CyanogenMod project.
LineageOS doesn't include Google Play services by default, which is good for your freedom. If you still need some of the proprietary apps or libraries, you can try microG's free software implementation.
We've put together some information on how you can help us make LineageOS and other operating systems the best they can, and how to identify and remove non-free parts.
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