Fairphone with Android… Is Google a "fair" company to support

I have only recently been made aware of Fairphone. Am i right in thinking the only available OS is Android…?

Unfortunately i have never had the impression that Google (Android) is a company that i can support. There are a number of Moral issues which I can see. My main concerns the support of one of the largest Capitalist Companies in the world profiting in an unconscientious manner, a second issue is Data Protection, this is however definitely a lesser evil but still contributes to my opinion. Fairphone is undoubtedly a market leader in the world of technology for those of us who are inclined to think about the greater picture when making a purchase, but as soon as Fairphone partners up with google/android the decision of the purchaser to make a conscientious decision in almost undone, at least in my relatively naive and relatively uneducated opinion. My Problem is, if i support Fairphone , i support much more through default.

Do the global practices of Google match the ideology of Fairphone?
How do Fairphone and Fairphone users justify the gap between the values of google and the values they personally hold?
Is there the possibility to develop a new OS which is independent from such Global Capitalists?

I hope i receive some interesting arguments that can lead to me developing my opinion in the right direction!

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You’re right - at present, the only available OS for the Fairphone is Android, for reasons that have to do with the chosen Mediatek chipset (source code not publicly available) You can, however, use your phone without using any google applications (app store, calendar &c &c). But even with the basic open source Android OS installed you’re to an extent under ‘google control’ since the company undoubtedly strongly influences the development of Android.

As I understand it, the FP team is actively working towards a solution, so new phone generations may offer the option to choose among OSs. See this thread, for instance: Closed Poll: Future Fairphone OS Development

However, even with a completely independent OS you cannot use a phone (or a PC) without, to some extent, becoming dependent on or ‘supporting’ transnational giants working for profit. There will always be servers running Microsoft or Apple software. There will always be operators doing shady business in third world countries. We cannot at present escape capitalism.


Personally I think for now it is a very good solution. We’re not forced to install all the additional Google Services with the Fairphone OS, we get root access right away and Android, while undoubtedly under Googles influence, is a good and stable OS.
Fairphone decided early on to focus on the production of a fair phone hardware-wise. You can’t change everything at once and have to start with something. Building the actual phone from scratch and establishing all the surrounding processes in a fair way was a very impressive start. And while the Fairphone does exist now, I believe they still need to strengthen the phone and the brand on the market. I’d rather they take small but steady steps.

That aside, I’d definitely want this is to be a direction Fairphone takes in the future. And the talk on the forum here only confirms that a different, independent OS is something users are interested in.


I agree wholly, one step at a time! The work FP is doing has impressed me. However it is crucial to voice opinions on such matters, only with increased interest / awareness can see future changes in the right direction! A great start, which should only prove to be motivation that more is possible! God knows, i couldn’t do better on my own!

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Let’s not overstate the issue. Sure, there may be some ethical issues with Google as a company, but I think Google is one of the lesser evils in this world. I think that the biggest problem most people have with Google is how they deal with privacy.

For a moment, stack up this issue against people being exploited in Congo, people working inhumane hours under harsh conditions in factories in China and people in various African countries salvaging materials from end-of-life phones in ways that are both harmful for themselves and the environment.

Considering how Fairphone is doing good work with these other issues, I don’t think the fact that Android is used should be that much of an influence on anyone’s choice whether or not they should choose Fairphone. If you feel that the choice of OS really makes all the other Fairphone work undone, then seriously, man, take a step back and look at the whole picture. Google may do things you don’t agree with, but it completely pales in comparison to what’s happening in Congo, China and elsewhere. Of course this doesn’t mean people shouldn’t remain critical of a company like Google, but do keep a fair perspective on things.

Also I think it’s fair to say that Fairphone can’t fight its battles on every single front out there. They’re already doing so much good with such a small team of people. If we start dismissing that because they aren’t fighting a hundred thousand other fights then we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Finally, there’s also arguments in favor of using Android. It’s a widely known, well established platform that has already gone through the phase of those early rough patches. Having an OS like Firefox OS or Ubuntu Touch on there (which people claim are more “fair”) will most likely just scare potential customers away because those an unknown platforms. Getting support from friends and family, or even online is harder because only a relatively small group of people is familiar with it. Then there’s the support for apps which is lacking on those platforms. Some people appear to believe that this is not an issue, but I think that’s burying your head in the sand, because for most people, if they can’t get their Angry Birds, Candy Crushes and Flappy Birds on day one, then they experience that as a great negative.

So yeah, there are some cons with using Android if you allow yourself to get bothered by that, but I also think there are quite a few plusses. I personally think that the cries for alternative OS-es like Firefox OS or Ubuntu Touch are grossly overstated.


Thanks for the link to the Poll! Good to see a lot of interest in further development! I don’t really see ignoring the google Apps as a real solution as that is only a % of the control from google, but you are definitely right… no-one at the moment can escape the greater capitalism to a large extent. Unless you cut yourself off completely , and that would be far from productive! Thanks for your answer, particularly the Poll!

The FSFE has launched a campaign to free your Android! :smile:

Please keep in mind that Google might be one of the biggest companies behind Android but is not the “owner”.