Is Fairphone2 without google (absolutely without) possible for a technically clueless user?

Hi everybody,
I’m new here, and I’m clueless about smartphones and their operating systems. So far I’ve been using phones I could phone or write SMS with. My phone is close to ten years old and now a few of the keys are acting up so I’ll need a new one soon, and I’d like to try out a smart phone for the first time in my life (I’m 63).
I came across an article about Fairphone, and I like the “fair”-idea, I also like the “modular”-idea, but I don’t like the operating system at all. It seems that Android has a lot to do with Google (which I try to avoid like the bubonic plague). I read a test (on that tells me that Fairphone 2 comes with Google Apps that I won’t be able to completely get rid of.
I know that there is an alternative operating system called Sailfish. But I’m sure I don’t know enough to be able to delete (if that’s the right word) Android and install Sailfish instead.
Unfortunately, the Fairphone shop does not offer the Fairphone2 already equipped with a Google-free operating system (giving a choice here would go very well with the general policy of the company, I think, and I don’t really understand why they don’t go ‘modular’ in this respect as well) .
So finally, my questions:

Does anybody know of a vendor of Fairphone2 that sells it with an alternative OS?
Does anybody know of a firm firm that could replace the Android with Sailfish for me?
Does anybody know of a website with clear instructions on how to do it myself (something like "get rid of Android for Dummies)?
Are there more alternatives to Android, and which one would you recommend?


It’s very easy to completely get rid of G%§$e Apps, e.g. by installing Fairphone Open OS (officially supported by Fairphone) or Lineage OS (supported by the community), but that doesn’t equate to completely getting rid of G%§$e.
E.g. I block all connections to G%§$e websites via hosts file - that’s a bit complicated, but I’m sure I can walk you through it once you have your phone.

If you have #fairphoneangels near you they could help you set up your FP without G%§$e.

You can find all the options in the #oslist and read some topics comparing a few of them under the tag #oscomparison.

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That’s correct. Android is being developed by Google (after they initially bought the company which came up with it), and even if there are Open Source variants which come without any Google Apps or services preinstalled, Android is still an OS by Google.

Explained by a Fairphone employee here …

It seems to me that Sailfish is the closest to being ready to be used as a daily driver.
Another promising effort is UBports (a community continuation of Ubuntu touch, an Ubuntu Linux adapted to be used on smartphones), but as far as I understand, there’s still some work to be done on this to recommend it for your purposes.

For a full overview of what can be done on the Fairphone 2, see #oslist (note that LineageOS and /e/ are Android variants).

Well, getting rid of Android on the Fairphone 2 comes down to just completely wiping the phone, which is not too hard to do, but the hard part for an inexperienced user is to install something else then :slight_smile: .
Instructions on how to install an alternative OS will differ from OS to OS.
Instructions for Sailfish are here …

A general advice then … a smartphone is a computer. It is a complex machine, and things can go wrong.
In getting rid of Google on a smartphone designed for Android you have chosen a path which even experienced users would consider and evaluate carefully.

Whatever you choose to do … You will be on the safer side of things if you personally know somebody with a general knack for IT stuff (family/ friends/ acquaintances).
We can do all the best we can to help here in the forum, but not everything can be correctly diagnosed or remedied from afar.
If there is nobody you know, perhaps you happen to have #fairphoneangels in your vicinity? That would certainly help.

Perhaps you want to reconsider and start your smartphone journey with Fairphone Open OS (supported by Fairphone, see #openos ) or LineageOS (supported by the LineageOS community and used by many of us here, see #lineageos ). Those OSes come without Google Apps and services preinstalled, and even if they are still Android, they take the biggest chunk of Google stuff out of the phone while still being easily serviceable (there are a lot of people who know their general way around Android).

You can still go hardcore no Google anytime later on :slight_smile: .


@paulakreuzer, @AnotherElk

Thank you very much for your quick and very helpul answers.

I’d very much like to use Sailfish, but I followed @AnotherElk’s link and read the installation guide for it - and it scared the hell out of me.
(By the way, one of the installation steps reads **Requires Fairphone Opensource OS 18.04 [](https://storage.googleapis…- but hey, there’s this darned Google again that I had thought Sailfish was supposed to get rid of!)
Anyway, Sailfish seems to be way out of my league. There are #fairphoneangels in Erfurt, Germany, about 300km away, but I wouldn’t want to bother them with setting up my phone from scratch unless I could pay them to do it (is that it? does it work like a shop?)

The instructions for installing Fairphone Open OS on the other hand seem to be much simpler. So I think I should start small and go hardcore anti-Google later.

Thanks again for your help

One more little question, if I may:
Your way of spelling Google - is that some kind of insider-joke?



2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Living without writing G%§$e - or how to replace words in textfields

I have been running phones without Google for the past 6 years and my short answer is: No.

When talking about ‘Android’ it is important to distinguish between the base OS the ‘Google Apps’ and the ‘Android’ brand name. The base OS is open source and not dependent on services from Google (though it is maintained by Google). On top of it Google offers ‘Google Apps’ a set of closed source apps like the Play Store, Maps, Location Services, Notification services etc. Google demands that vendors of smartphones may only use the brand name ‘Android’ if these Google-apps are also installed. So ‘Android’ without ‘Google’ is legally impossible.

Fairphone open OS is the core OS of Android without the Google Apps. Installing it is pretty straightforward and doable for a technical clueless user: just open de Fairphone updater and select the advanced option and there you go. (On other Android phones, this process is much more difficult.)

But that is where the trouble starts: many apps for Android expect the services provided by the Google-Apps. To get these functioning without falling back on the ‘Google Apps’ (if you want Google Apps, then you can better stay with the Android version provided by Fairphone), you need alternatives for those. The best way to do that, is to install the Micro-G services and a bunch of alternative apps. And though they have improved over the recent years, it is still quite a ‘hacky process’ to install them. I don’t regard that possible for a technically clueless user. Once installed, it works reasonably well but still a bit quirky from time to time. And still: if you download from Play store, even when using an alternative app, Google knows to some extent what apps you have installed and also the optional notification service of Micro-G leaks some data to Google. It is possible to leave these out, but it will make your system more ‘quirky’: Most apps run fine without Google notification services, but lack some functionality. There are many good apps available from F-Droid and manually/illegally/unverified downloading the .apk (installation) files from the Google Play Store or other sources is also possible.

So in the end it is a trade-off between Google, user-friendliness and functionality: the more you leave out Google, then more functionality will have a price in user-friendliness.


I can relate to what you explained.
But in this case Titus is intending to use the smartphone for calling and sending SMS (as a replacement of his/her old phone, I understand). In this case, I think that once you have the OS up and running, if it’s capable of calling and sending SMS there is no need to install any additional app and should not be very complicated to maintain it up to date, should it?

@Winfried Can you provide a screenshot or some further explanation on that?
This option was never available on FP2 under Androis 5 or 6 and I cannot find it in Android 7 either, at least not under FP OS and as described here.
The advanced mode just gives the possibility to do a full install of the current OS (in contrast to the incremental installs in standard mode that were available in Android 6).
Afaik this option to easily switch from FP OS to FP Open using Updater is just a myth.
Anyone please feel free to prove me wrong, I would be happy to learn.

Fully correct: without any additional tweaking, Fairphone Open OS is perfectly capable of calling, texting, maintaining an address book etc. It is updated regularly and you get a notification when there is a new update.

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I can’t: I am on the other side now :wink:
(In matter of fact I just installed a new FP2 last week, using this)

But from the other side it looks quite similar:

I am wondering about your statement it is a myth, I know for pretty sure I used this to get open…

Ok, that looks interesting. I’ll test once again today evening and post some screenshots from FP OS’s view. And maybe check for an update of the Updater app before.

Which updates / versions are offered when you actually enter advanced mode (from your second screenshot)? Is it only FP OS, only FP Open or both of them?

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At least for me I get only offered FPOS and not FP open:

I remember, many years ago :wink:, when I got my FP2, I just downloaded openOS from my phone. Opening the file would open the updater app and voilà!

Installing Open OS with the updater app (opening zip file with updater or starting the updater in advanced mode) was possible for a while a long time ago. I’d have to guess when it stopped, but I could imagine it was with the upgrade to Android 6.

Hmmm… wondering if we are running into some naming confusion here: If I recall correctly I selected ‘Fairphone OS’ and got ‘Fairphone Open’!

Did you upgrade the Fairphone updater app? There are some version issues (though I don’t know exactly what).

Thanks all for your hints. I just tested on my device and found that there actually was an Updater app update (to version 1.39.15).
Even with that also in advanced mode only Fairphone OS 18.09.2 is offered (same as for @Volker). I couldn’t test yet if actually FP Open might be installed (the download doesn’t start right now).

But @chrisse’s hint is very interesting. Downloading the FP Open installation file manually and installing it using the Updater app is a very easy & convenient way to switch OS. I was not aware of that, so thanks to all of you for your contributions, especially to @Winfried for bringing up the topic!

@titus: Sorry, didn’t want to hijack your thread, but maybe this method for switching to FP Open is an option for you.


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