Android: The google-less experience

I know this is not exactly about zorin, but android is based on linux and I have seen some people talk or show other distros here, so I believe this fits here (if it doesn't, let me know and I'll delete it)

Anyways, so recently I formatted my previous phone but with one single goal: to see how it is to use an android phone without logging in with a google account and without using any app made by google. I thought it'd be a hard and almost impossible challenge, but I'm surprised of how wrong I was... well, not fully wrong, but almost

To make it clear, this was more of an experiment than of an actual attempt, so there may be the chance that I got some information wrong because of lack of research (I did research a bit, but not in full depth)

To start with, the phone needed an alternative place to download apps from. Downloading .apk files and manually installing them is an option, but updating apps installed like that is... not ideal. But that's where F-droid comes in. It seems to be open-source and a bit more competent when it comes to analyizing the apps in search of malware before hosting them, so I saw that as a pretty solid alternative to the google play store

My next concern was the web browser. Most of them are only officially hosted on the google play store, so I feared I would have no good variety of browsers to choose from. But I was actually wrong: Opera gives the apk installer from their official website, duckduckgo is on f-droid and firefox, as the open source browser it is, someone re-built it and renamed it so it could be on f-droid too, so I ended up realizing that getting a good web browser wasn't gonna be a problem either

On top of that, I've even found some apps that would never be allowed on the google play store: like libretube (a youtube client that requires no account to subscribe to channels and has built-in adblocker), or micth ( client)

There were some games too, not as many as there are on the google play store, but enough if you are fine with simple games

Even if this all may sound really good, in the beginning of the post I've said that I was not fully wrong when I said it's not completely usable without resorting to google's services. Why? Well, F-droid may have a lot of useful apps, but if you need a very specific app from a company, it's most likely not gonna be there. And unlike linux with wine for windows-only programs, the only way to get apps from the google play store is using the google play store itself or a 3rd party app that downloads from google's repositories (not recommended because doing that has gotten many people's gmail account completely banned and erased from existance, as it's against their terms of services)

So yeah, for a tablet or a secondary phone, it's very possible to go along without google. For your main phone? Well, if you don't like google I'm sorry to tell you but it's just not viable: apps that are specific to services (like netflix, banking and stuff like that) is not gonna be available for you if you never go to the google play store


I'm using an /e/Solutions Murena Teracube 2e Emerald de-Google'd phone.

It's got its own app store, and I installed F-Droid.

There is a way to download apps from the Google app store... aside from using the anonymizing option of Murena App Store or F-Droid or similar.
You'd go to Google Play Store, find the URL of the package you want, enter it in the website above, and download the .apk file to install manually. It works, I downloaded the auto-complete dictionary files for Hacker's Keyboard (which weren't available anywhere except Google), and it worked just fine.


alternatives to play store:

  • yalp store / aurora store
  • f-droid
  • huawei appgallery
  • xiaomi market.
  • amazon app store
  • apkmirror

i'm using a huawei phone at the moment which includes both google and huawei services but i've tried to cut as much of google out as possible so i rely on the appgallery which i've found to be pretty good so far at least for my needs as it included all my apps (even banking)

for youtube i use newpipe (if you use f-droid it has a repo on there but if not then you need to get apk directly from them which i chose to do)

sadly huawei stopped offering codes to unlock the bootloader and 3rd party alternatives are pretty shady so it's unlikely i can completely rid my phone of google and go an alternative os, which is a shame as battery life on some of them look pretty good without google services


We also use Huawei phones and I have just about everything dealing with google either disabled or removed and without rooting ..... the Mrs's phone is stock ..... and I also keep my WiFi turned off unless I need to use the internet and then I use DDG as my browser ..... going to use Brave Browser as an alternative sometime but for now DDG is fine .....

No email service is downloaded as I use my laptop for that and I only read it once a day anyway ..... my cell is mainly used to contact the Mrs when she goes out or to play 4 varieties of Candy Crush and a Solitaire apt if and when the power goes out which can be more frequently than I would like .....

I live on my laptop not my phone ..... :+1: :rofl: :rofl:

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How can you be so sure, if you've just recently started experimenting with this notion of a so-called "ungoogled phone"?

I've been doing this myself for a few years now, with some, but very few inconveniences. Netflix is not a deal breaker for me and, as far as I can tell, zero people that I know of because most like to watch movies and series in the comfort of their home. As far as banking applications, I've used apps from 3 different entities on different continents without issue.

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nice, i tried to remove some of the google stuff but most of it is locked down on mine without root access and can only be disabled, my browser and email are both yandex.

i've never actually used a phone for gaming as i always used to carry around a gameboy colour with sabrina zapped which i still own and whenever i got home i played on console or the family pc, nowadays my gaming is almost exclusively on pc although i do want to try the switch at some point as it would be great to take on journeys.

i was the same when i had a laptop before, the bigger screen, smoother experience and physical inputs were a really nice quality of life improvement compared to phones.


I personally don't use netflix myself, but I'm pretty sure some people do, that's why I pointed it out

I see. Well, in f-droid I can't seem to find the one I need, as it's only available through the google play store, and 3rd party clients like the aurora store aren't an option for me, since I don't want to get too close to the risk of losing my accounts. So unless you are refering to other stores like Huawei's appgallery or samsung's galaxy store, I don't think I can say the same in my case. I will look a bit more into it though

The phone I'm doing this on is also a huawei phone, so I'll take a look at it

Always avoided it because i thought it would be as limited as samsung's galaxy store if not even more, but I will take a look and hopefully prove me wrong


okay, the appgallery has the banking app that I need and some other apps from big companies. Even microsoft office is there, and unlike every other closed-source appstore, it seems it's not asking me to log in with an account to download free apps. And apparently you can download the appgallery apk installer from their website, so even if it's made for huawei, it's not exclusive for huawei

Okay, the only concern I had about not having google's apps in a phone has been solved and now I see how custom roms like lineageOS are so popular


This has been an interesting thread. I also would like to do away with anything google. I have turned off everything I can that is connected with google on my phone. And I have used F-Droid to download apps. The only thing that is keeping me from installing something like LineageOS is Android Auto. I use my phone frequently for navigation in my car. I use Waze and Android Auto which connects to my head unit in my car. This gives me a much larger screen to glance at while driving and I get the turn by turn instructions over my sound system in my car. Since I am hearing impared that makes it much easier to hear the directions as I drive. I have been looking for the last couple of years for a replacement for Android Auto. None of what I have found will actually let my phone connect to my head unit through the USB cable and work with my head unit. Has anyone found a good replacement for Android Auto?


I would search support for your device and CalyxOS. Tried it out on a Pixel3a I picked up for Ubuntu Touch. Both work, UTouch doesn't work with 4G VoLTE though so, can't call... but can do other mobile data enabled things like text, mms, and data.

Calyx is all about security and all - no Google either, by the way. Does come with F-Droid and some other things. Also comes with CalyxVPN, free VPN.

You could get away with not signing into anything Google and using third-party app stores for your apps and all.

I don't have either installed anymore, I have the generic Android12 installed with root and NetHunter. I have a Gaccount but it's not one I use - just for testing and devices I don't want my personal stuff on.

If not - there are plenty of Android variants without Google!

Do you know if your device is A, B, or AB? Believe it or not, I've always thought the MTK devices were easiest to reverse engineer :smirk:

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Thanks for the suggestion! I've been looking at custom roms for a few days, but, just like lineageOS and many other custom android roms, the phone I'm doing this on isn't supported, and there seems to be no luck with unofficial ports or soon-to-be-available either. Searching up a bit, it turns out that most custom roms devs lost interest in huawei after the company decided to make it harder to unlock the bootloader, so that may be the reason of why I'm having no luck finding something supported on my specific phone

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No worries! Though, I have the same issue with my Y9 Prime. I wouldn't mind just rooting the thing and getting rid of it buuuuuuuuut - it's basically new, just without the labels. I did use it, but was in some 360-degree case, so nothing ever got scuffed or damaged; and it's on EMUI 12 :smirk: Even the pop-up camera still works! That's another reason I can't get rid of it.. my first and only Huawei device with a pop-up camera :face_holding_back_tears: lol I got it in 2020 but, apparently there was a ban on those devices in the states - still managed to get my hands on one though! :grin:

Total disappointment from Huawei though - could have done what HTC did to unlock their bootloaders; send the hex key over and then HTC sends you an unlock code.. The OneM9 I had was flashed with Lineage I think haha

If you can find one - I would say grab a Pixel3a/XL to play with - very easy to get stuff going. UTouch was basically just hook up, download, unhook and enjoy. Have tried the Plasma phone interface by KDE, not bad - different.. I picked mine up for under 50 bucks, no scratches, dents, chips, dings, dongs lol nothing that would have even said to me 'I was used once'. Did the same with an older MacBook too haha original battery still works ~1-hour!

e/OS seems to be another popular rom as well as calyx as mentioned and graphene.

there's a company that seems to offer degoogled phones although i've never tried them personally so do not know how legit they are .


Totally forgot about /e/OS - that's a good one. Graphene is on the same level, I think. Both good for privacy and anonymous browsing! Calyx doesn't recommend rooting so, couldn't run my NetHunter stuff. But, is easy to disable the Google junk! :grin:

I have a few, and many in the past, Umidigi devices - very easy to get root and use other OS's - all AB ROMs. Though, some aren't supported fully.. so, may have issues with certain things like running an unlocked bootloader and making calls and such. Definitely a recommended brand to play around with ROMs.

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The thing is that Huawei used to do that, but they stopped at some point

Honestly, when I have the need to buy a new phone, I think I will most likely go for a fairphone: easy to fix, replaceable battery and with official instructions to install custom roms given by the same company that makes those phones. They aren't cheap though, so I can't just go buy one right now. Will need to keep using the bloated rom I'm having to use right now for a while until I can afford it and the one I currently use starts to fail


GrapheneOS doesn't try to port their ROM to as many devices as possible, instead they pick one that has really well known security features implemented at the hardware level and work with that. Ironically, that phone is Google's Pixel, it seems that it stands to its claims about privacy and security features. This will be my next step once my current phone needs replacing.


Huh! Must have stopped before I got my Huawei - figures lol

And yeah no kidding, all the phones are up there in price now - I don't need studio quality photo apertures :joy: that could cut some cost! I have a FLIR enabled Blackview phone right now - that's pretty sweet :smirk: and the 8580mAh battery is nice! haha it's a chunky phone though; about a pound or more in weight! Have to tighten up my belt when I'm carrying it in my pocket :rofl: No, but I can definitely feel the weight lol

Have seen the Fairphones - very cool! Not a lot of companies want you doing what they support, very cool. Not a big fan of the folding flipping nonsense; that died when I got rid of my Razr.. and that was hard to do lol flip shut, call ended :sunglasses: man those were some good times..

Have no idea what's next on the phone front - we'll see when I get there, like usual haha

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Yep! Just comparing features from the two. I like that Calyx offers a free VPN right out of the box - that's pretty awesome. I'm using RiseUpVPN myself - also have RiseUp for all my Linux machines! Is 60 bucks to support.. but one time kinda thing. I do like the looks of the Pixel 7 - might be my next move. We'll see haha


Let the corporations that drop support or try to dominate the users lose customers for a while and they will begin backpedaling.