ClearPhone alternative to /e/?

I’m curious if anyone knows about ClearPhone
At a glance it seems similar to /e/ on dedicated hardware.

Regain your privacy! Adopt /e/ the unGoogled mobile OS and online servicesphone

Dunno, but it seems expensive!

(From 50 to 150 USD per month)

I have started getting into the whole privacy thing, when I bought my Fairphone 3 about half a year back. And the little experience and knowledge I have is enough to be very sceptical about this. It appears to be an attempt to monetize what /e/ and other FOSS custom ROMS are trying to achive, and this comes with a whole lot of vagueness and possibly misinformation. Take for example what they say in their FAQ:

"By default, ClearGM blocks the whole of the internet, then allows only the good parts you want to see. You can either have total control over what is allowed, or let ClearGM’s artificial intelligence protect you automatically - it’s up to you.

So if this is what happens, how would they know what to block and what to let through? They would need to have whitelist of the entire “good” internet, or - maybe similar to AdAway - a blacklist of every single “evil” thing out there. How would this be achieved? They don’t say. And what the hell does AI have to do with anything? Which brings me to my next issue:

They use a whole lot of empty words that sound good but aren’t explained in detail, like here:

Built on decades worth of military-grade computer and network security experience

Like, what does this even mean? What is “military-grade”? Where are credentials? And what would credentials even look like? Maybe this is - well - marketing.

Or this one:

ClearPHONE can run any Android application.

So, it is possible to run any Android application…

because ClearPHONE utilizes the Android interface

Ok, cool. But learning about Android, listening to @GaelDuval explain problems with using android and that it is still a solution with many trad-offs privacy-wise (notice the difference? he is honest about it, explains it the way it is), listening to Marvin Wissfeld talk about microG and that this comes with certains trade-offs as well - and experiencing problems with microG first hand - I am left wondering: How are they doing it? How do they replace Google? And it turns out looking at the replies in the comments:

Hi Jason, yes there will be an option to use the phone without the Play Store on the phone and without Google apps (in this instance you could use f-droid for sure to get apps). If someone really wants to use the Play Store there will be an option for that.

So, to sum up. They somehow found a way, to leave the Google Playstore on the phone if people want it, whilst claiming to completely protect privacy and keeping it all completley secure. At least I don’t see them mentioning, that leaving the playstore in a privacy focussed OS is much like leaving a wiretap in the middle of a bugproof room.

I guess one doesn’t need to be a coder to find very obvious flaws within their logic. I am not even saying ClearOS is any worse than /e/ at protecting privacy. I am saying that I really don’t know what they are doing and how they do it. And when someone claims to do something magical and doesn’t explain how they do it, we might suspect that it’s a magic trick - that it may be misleading and selling something they are not really able to do. (With the only difference being that “real” magicians are usually very honest about their using tricks.)

There is absolutley no reason to trust them whatsoever. And to make matters worse, it appears they are doing this on the shoulders of the FOSS-community. Remember how they recommended using F-Droid to Jason? Also, I am quite unsure abouth how they created their programs. There is so much open source stuff out there that it is at least conceivable, they just took FOSS-achievements like microG, changed the code a bit and now make money off of it. Or maybe their phones even ship with microG? No idea. They claim the code is open source (even though searching for it I only found the source code of ClearOS - a server OS, nothing about their mobile version), so someone with some coding experience might look into it. Of course, here I am just expressing a suspicion - I really don’t know how they make Google Apps work while claiming to fully protect privacy. Because they don’t say.

To conclude: What they are doing may be potentially dangerous, unless they somehow managed to ensure complete privacy on a googled phone (which I highly doubt). In any other case, they give their customers a false sense of security, while providing nothing of the sort. In the end, this may be a good thing for their wallets and the advertising industry.

So, dear /e/-team: thanks for trying to provide privacy for anyone (not only paying customers) and being honest about shortcomings resulting from the stretch between usability and privacy. As we can see, we should not take this for granted.


I agree with @DarthDavester 's analysis, there is not much to add to it. A picture is worth a thousand words:


The discussions on Kickstarter comment sections are not very encouraging either. Is like there is no communication going on at all, not even in their own site… so it is clear that is not an alternative to /e/ since they don’t have the same target audience and ambitions. There are also claims like these:

ClearOS Mobile is built from scrubbed elements of Android and the Google Services.

Credit: ClearWEB is built from elements of Firefox, Chrome and Brave browser.

Very confusing, feels like they are stitching things together the best they can. Again, not reassuring at all.

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To follow up on @DarthDavester thoughts, I would say I quite trust E.Foundation marketing and communication. The fact that they don’t overuse buzz words. I’ve been following Volla (the phone by Hallo Welt GmbH that came out recently) and got a bit tired of their buzz words: they say they work on edge computing rather than cloud services like /e/ but never explained so far what they mean by it. (I’m not saying here that their OS is better or worse than /e/)

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The edge in this case is the smartphone!? :thinking: This would mean all computing takes place there.

Volla communication all sounds vague to me.
I’m quoting the Volla CEO (May 28, 2020 on Telegram group):

From this I conclude that the future of cloud services for communication and own data management lies in encrypted and distributed edge computing.

The Volla Phone is just the beginning

and further:

Yes, proprietary data should be stored on hardware owned or controlled by the user. However, things already become more complicated when we communicate or when data is to be synchronized or backed up as a copy. Most consumers are also overwhelmed by this. But we see a solution.

Daplie and Cubbit are inspiration. The hardware could also come from Volla. And in terms of edge computing the Volla Phone would be a central device in the network. For this we have filed some patents.

So, a cloud with a different technical approach. a distributed P2P network. Cubbit looks interesting: maybe @GaelDuval knows about it. But what is in it for me? Nothing for now. Too little insight for me to buy in.

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