The Fairphone 4 is going on sale in the US, Fairphone announced, but it won’t be running the same Google Play-enabled Android like you’ll find on the best Android phones. It’ll be powered by /e/OS, a secure mobile operating system based on Android but without any Google software, developed by a company called Murena.
“We are excited to bring high-quality sustainable phones with advanced privacy features to the USA,” Gaël Duval, Murena CEO and /e/OS founder said in a press release. “With the inclusion of our pro-privacy operating system /e/OS, we are proud to offer users a device that not only lasts longer but also protects people’s personal data. At Murena, we are convinced that this is the perfect combination for a more ethical phone.”
“We know based on feedback we have received that there are many people interested in Fairphone in the US.” Fairphone CEO Eva Gouwens explained the partnership. “However, currently our main focus is on the European market. This collaboration with /e/OS is a great opportunity for us to pilot selling devices in the US market with a long-standing partner and learn more about the American market.”
In our Fairphone 4 review, TechRadar found it to be a solid handset that included lost amenities like a headphone jack, but one that lacked the heights achieved by a phone with a modern camera. It was also a bit chunky. /e/OS, for its part, is a Google-free version of Android that the company says is privacy-focused. More of the privacy choices are left in the hands of the owner, not Google, which fits the do-it-yourself vibe of Fairphone fans.
Could sustainable smartphones prove sustainable business?
Fairphone has made its bones on being a smartphone brand more focused on sustainability than addressing the mass market. Handling one as I write this, the device has some compromises. It’s a little bulky. It’s not as good-looking as a Pixel 7a or iPhone 14, and you’ll be hard-pressed to take excellent photos with its cameras. However, you’re paying for a phone that’s different from the packaged experience that you can buy on all other smartphones. It’s sturdy, solid, and is an easy to repair smartphone as there ever was.
There is an audience for a device like this, and the expansion to the US could show just how enthusiastic that audience is.