The developers of the /e/OS operating system have been offering an Android-based operating system free of Google’s proprietary apps and services for the past five years. In recent years, you could even buy phones with /e/OS preinstalled, first in Europe and more recently in North America.
But until recently, that meant buying a third-party phone that had its default software replaced with this deGoogled Android. Now the e Foundation has launched a first-party phone called Murena One.
The Murena One will be available in June in the US, Canada, Europe, UK and Switzerland, selling for $379, CAD$479, £291, €346 and CHF292 in each of those regions.
Like all phones the e Foundation sells, the Murena One ships without the Google Play Store, Gmail, Google Chrome, Google Maps, Google Search, or other proprietary software that ships with most Android phones sold in countries other than to be sold in China .
On the one hand, that might make the phones a little less useful for some users. But it also makes them much more suitable for people who value privacy. Google makes most of its money from advertising, and a large chunk of that comes in the form of tracking software that monitors user behavior.
Some people may choose to opt out of this tracking altogether by using a Linux phone… but mobile Linux is still a work in progress and only a handful of phones come with Linux software preinstalled. A Google-removed Android phone offers the benefits of a robust, open-source operating system very similar to the software already shipping on billions of devices. And most Android apps work on an /e/OS device thanks to the use of microG, including many that typically rely on Google Mobile services.
However, the Murena One is clearly not the phone for people who want the fastest processor, most RAM, or the best cameras. It’s a decidedly mid-range device with a MediaTek Helio P60 processor, just 4GB of RAM, and an FHD+ LCD display. And unlike some phones aimed at enthusiasts, it doesn’t have a user-replaceable battery… though it does does have a microSD card reader and a headphone jack.
Here is an overview of the key specifications for the Murena One:
|Murena One specifications|
|processor||Mediatek Helio P60
4 x Cortex-A73 CPU cores @ 2GHz
4 x Cortex-A53 CPU cores @ 2GHz
ARM Mali-G72 graphics
Based on a LineageOS build… that’s based on Android 10
|cameras||48 MP + 8 MP + 5 MP (rear) primary
25 megapixels (front)
|battery||4,500 mAh (non-removable)|
microSD card reader
4G LTE (Bands: B1 / B2 / B3 / B5 / B7 / B8 / B12 / B13 / B17 / B20 / B28 / B38 / B40 / B41)
3G (Bands: B2 / B3 / B5 / B8)
Dual Nano SIM (one slot shared with microSD card reader)
|Miscellaneous||Fingerprint reader (side-mounted)
|Dimensions||161.8 x 76.9 x 8.9mm|
|Price||$379 / $479 CAD / £291 / €346|
According to e Foundation, the Murena One is carrier-unlocked, comes with a 2-year warranty, and will receive at least 3 years of software and security updates (with updates typically being rolled out every two months).
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that not only does the Murena One come without some of the software that many people typically associate with Android phones, it also comes with some sort of fork of Android. The /e/OS software is based on LineageOS, an operating system forked from the code of Google’s Android Open Source Project. In this case, the phone comes with the latest version of /e/OS, but it’s based on Android 10, which is a fairly old version of Google’s operating system. Most modern phones ship with Android 12, while Google is preparing to release Android 13 later this year.
If you want a feel for what the Murena One can and can’t do, The Verge has a hands-on.
via Murena Launch Event