Murena, the Privacy-First Android Smartphone, Arrives

The /e/OS-powered Murena One is the first smartphone from Murena that does its best to free you from Google without sacrificing too many core features. There are no Google apps, Google Play Services, or even the Google Assistant. It's all been replaced by open-source software alternatives with privacy-respecting features. ZDNet's Steven Vaughan-Nichols reports: Murena and Mandrake Linux founder Gael Duval was sick of it by 2017. He wanted his data to be his data, and he wanted open-source software. Almost five years later, Duval and his co-developers launched the Murena One X2. It's the first high-end Android phone using the open-source /e/OS Android fork to arrive on the market. The privacy heart of the Murena One is /e/OS V1. There have been many attempts to create an alternative to Google-based Android and Apple's iOS -- Ubuntu One, FirefoxOS, and Windows Mobile -- but all failed. Duval's approach isn't to reinvent the mobile operating system wheel, but to clean up Android of its squeaky Google privacy-invading features and replace them with privacy-respecting ones. To make this happen, Duval started with LineageOS -- an Android-based operating system, which is descended from the failed CyanogenMod Android fork. It also blends in features from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) source-code trees. In the /e/OS, most (but not all) Google services have been removed and replaced with MicroG services. MicroG replaces Google's libraries with purely open-source implementations without hooks to Google's services. This includes libraries and apps which provide Google Play, Maps, Geolocation, and Messaging services for Android applications. In addition, /e/OS does its best to free you from higher-level Google services. For instance, Google's default search engine has been replaced with Murena's own meta-search engine. Other internet-based services, such as Domain Name Server (DNS) and Network Time Protocol (NTP), use non-Google servers. Above the operating system, you'll find Google-free applications. This includes a web browser; an e-mail client; a messaging app; a calendar; a contact manager; and a maps app that relies on Mozilla Location Service and OpenStreetMap. While it's not here yet, Murena is also working on its own take on Google Assistant, Elivia-AI. You can also run many, but not all Android apps. You'll find these apps on the operating system's App Lounge. [...] There's still one big problem: the App Lounge still relies on you logging in with your Google account. In short, the App Lounge is mainly a gateway to Google Store apps. Munera assures me that the Lounge anonymizes your data -- except if you use apps that require payment. Still, this is annoying for people who want to cut all their ties with Google. The fundamental problem is this: Muena does all it can to separate its operating system and applications from Google, but it can't -- yet -- replace Google's e-commerce and software store system. As for hardware specs, the $379 Murena One features a 6.5-inch IPS LCD display, eight-core MediaTek Helio P60 processor, side-mounted fingerprint scanner, three rear cameras (48MP + 8MP + 5MP) and 25MP front camera, and 4,500mAh battery. It also features a microSD card slot for expandable storage and headphone port.

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