Experience and thoughts with /e/OS

After using /e/ OS on a Fairphone 4 for nine months as my primary phone I want to share my experience, leanings and thoughts with you. It is a long read, not really technical but from a user perspective. My day job is in IT business development and I am also a part time but professional photographer.

I guess we are all in this forum for more or less the same reasons. Idealistic motivations, better privacy and more control over the device that has become an almost unavoidable tracker and archiver of our lives for the benefit of businesses and governments. But also it is the fun of tinkering and being part of a community that gives us options. A lot of what I read in the forum is about the latter.

I found /e/OS after searching for Linux phone alternatives. After flashing and testing an old Samsung S3 mini with /e/OS for a while I bit the bullet and ordered a Murena Fairphone 4. The fresh air in my digital life arrived in January this year. I started to transfer my smartphone life to /e/OS and gave my iPhone 12 Pro to my wife

My learning curve was twofold. Getting all necessary apps up and running and to do essential things like banking, email, messaging, connecting to healthcare and government institutions and some apps related to work. Secondly, coming from the Apple ecosystem, Android was mostly new to me.

Upfront I knew compromises and sacrifices would have to be made. To name a few: Camera - as a photographer, even with the stock Fairphone OS it would not have met my wishes. I bought I high quality very compact camera to compensate for that. And also some tasks where pushed to my iPad and / or the browser instances even though a proprietary app was available and functional.

All in all I tried use /e/OS as my daily driver for everything. At least to some degree.

How much key institutions in our daily lives rely on and choose to be dependent on Google and Apple becomes clear when you actually try to not use Google or Apple. I found that bunch of, absolutely necessary things, (for me), are impossible or difficult to accomplish without an Apple of Google fueled app.
For example in the Netherlands, every government service and healthcare organizations require the use of an app called DigiD to sign in. The app installs but does not work on final steps because it relies on Google infrastructure not present in MicroG, I assume for good reasons . Most of my banking apps do work with the exception of one that is important for my business. The same goes for an app to get access to my insurance company.
The standard and alternative navigation apps are respectable (OSMand+ is phenomenal vby the way), but let met down for pratical use in critical moments. Moments when you need everything to work fast and reliably.

A real world example from my life: Imagine me on a business trip running around an airport, checking in, paying for stuff, re-booking a canceled flight on the go in an airline app and when arriving finding the right train or taxi stand, all the while having (video)calls for last changes on the meeting,… my Murena phone is just not suitable for that task,… yet. I totally realise many of the solutions to make things work better are not necessarily a task for /e/ but for app developers, writing apps that are not or less dependent on Google infrastructure. I also understand that the path of least resistance is often chosen by app developpers to keep development cost down.

Now, don’t get me wrong I totally love my Murena phone, I will stick with it. I genuinely feel free and unobserved when it is on me and I value that lot. It can do 90% of the things I need in my private life and some of the things I need in my business life.

For what it cannot do I have a refurbished iPhone 13 mini with a second SIM card with the same number. It is a powerhouse in a small form factor, I can alternate between phones quickly with airplane mode. When at home and on private trips by default I only use my Murena.

One nice side effect of my two phones approach is that, with exception of one banking app, I am now using exclusively open source apps on my Murena phone. WhatsApp, (and Signal for practical reasons), transferred to the iPhone. They can only be registered to one phone at the time even when the phone numbers are the same. So now I discovered Wire and Element. Both which are great messaging alternatives in their own right. In a way my de-googled phone has become more pure.

The e.foundation and the whole initiative to offer an alternative to Google and Apple is very necessary. Fantastic work has all ready been done by Gaël and the development team. They have my full support and respect.

What I learned is that there is no perfect solution to be completely free of Big Tech just yet. Unless you want to disconnect from the real world. It is a constant balancing act between pragmatism and protecting your privacy. We should be realistic, patient and not expect /e/OS to be the holy solution just yet. It needs a chance, time and nurturing to develop into the promise.

I also came to realise that while as a person you can do a lot to protect your digital life. But as individuals, or even as the larger group taking privacy seriously, we are no match for the power of big tech followed by the masses who don’t care or are unaware. I am not anti Google products, they have some great solutions but we all (the masses) should take offence against them selling our personal information to the highest bidder.
So broader awareness, (tough cookie), and governmental legislation catching up with reality are important ingredients as well to limit Big Tech Digital Wild West Practices. The European Union is making some good moves now but way more needs to be done.

In the meantime I will continue to support e.foundation’s work for and will keep enjoying my Murena phone with /e/OS.

My 2cts


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


A beautiful experience that I have also had in a similar way. I come from a OnePlus with Android and have a Samsung business phone from the company - I was bothered by the many, not uninstallable apps on both (…I would never buy a Samsung - with hundreds of bloatware apps on such an expensive phone!).

I’ve been with /e/OS for almost 2 years now (started with a Murena Fairphone 4) and have almost completely managed to organize my daily life with /e/OS. I also make it a point (thanks to “Exodus” and “Advanced Privacy”) that the apps I use are as free of trackers as possible.

So I had to do without some applications (e.g. my health insurance app or the Easypark app overloaded with trackers), but have learned to live with it quite well!
I also find Osmand ingenious, it is more than a replacement for Google Maps & Co.

One more point:

I also find the camera of the FP4 bad and have again acquired a Canon Powershot G6X mark II for photography - and have learned that taking pictures with a viewfinder, camera and a real lens is much more fun and increases mindfulness!


I also agree since I have a FP4 that the camera is mediocre. The FP5 camera is much better.
What I’m still missing for /e/OS is a high-end phone supported with a good camera. There will be support of the new Pixel smartphones, lets see what the future brings in terms of new device support…
Fortunately in Germany we don’t have such an app like DigiD (or at least not yet)…sometimes it helps to reach out to the app developer for custom rom support since the FP4 bootloader can be locked again and I assume your phone is not rooted


I like long reviews, the two-device approach is clever, takes off expectations from one device.

The MLKit stuff (what DigiD wants) in microg isn’t reimplemented “for good reasons”, but just the amount of contributors and some planning. I’m confident (parts of) MLkit, at least the qrcode stuf, will come around eventually.

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But can we really consider “the 2 device approach” a success for e-OS in terms of sustainability (which is one of the OS targets) ?

I think we can when we except that an ideal world is not built overnight.

Perhaps for now it is more valuable to not scare away new users by being too radical.

We, the users in this forum, already convinced ourselves to be more sustainable and more private. But /e/ can only win when it attracts and retains enough critical mass to grow the user base. Being transparant and realistic on what you can expect using /e/ is important. Even if it means using two phones temporarily until is /e/ ready to deliver everything a user (in this case myself) needs.


I agree with the progressive approach (given the work force of the e-Team, no other is possible actually).
But, even if impressive progress has been done since 5 years, I often think that at the issue of the battle is still not certain, given the pace at which new devices are out, users want them supported, new “security” software layers are baked by the GAFAM and phone makers to push up their data business, meaning some new efforts to workaround, some regressions for we, users … etc.

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Love my terracube e os phone. Favorite phone I have owned. There are compromises but to me they are a relatively small price to pay for the freedom you get with an e os phone. I grew to absolutely despise the experience with a standard googled android phone. E os was like a breath of fresh air.

I think the one thing that would be the icing on the cake would be a better photo manager/gallery. That is the one thing I miss. I don’t really mind having to take photos with a real camera and upload them, but its just a lot harder to find and organize your photos.

Maps was the other one, but I actually grew to really like magic earth and find it to work quite well.


I’m a big fan and daily driver of /e/os but I did end up going to the XDA forums and downloading Gcam for my camera (:no_entry: do so at you own risk :no_entry:)

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