Phones ideal for F-Droid and is Android Go, F-Droid compatible?

Can anyone advise on phones ideal for f-droid? Would stock Android phones be better? Does it matter? What is the the status of F-Droid on Android Go? I read some Android updates may block F-Droid, but also read that it may be a version issue (like F-droid is not released for the new Android). There seems to be little info on what are recommended phones. It seems that except for PinePhones, which are not mature for end-user consumption, it is slim pickings out there. Anyone care to weigh in?


I’m using F-droid on my Sony XA2 Ultra, running AOSP built with Sony Open Devices Project. It is Google appless and works great with F-droid on Android 10.

So I don’t think a phone/android version can be too new for F-droid. I’ve never used Android Go, but for any regular Android, stock or custom, F-droid should work fine.

@alaskalinuxuser It is not clear what the situation is for phones and F-Droid compatibility. There are phones that users claim are ‘stock android’ and then mainstream ones where companies add their own bloat-wear and DRM tools. So a phone will get an update and a user cannot access f-droid. Android Go interests me because they are on lower cost models, but a forum post here indicates that its (Android Go) functionaility is inconclusive. It would be good if there was some kind of recommended list so the user does not have to play roulette with phones to see which ones may or may not work.

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It’s probably budget constraints that prevent doing a list like this. Also like you say if a bad update comes along, BAM, false advertising and the list becomes a liability anyway.

Then of course many people just root the phone :slight_smile: and put on free license OSes, but that’s even more experimental.

I wonder, has ANY manufacturer stepped forward to voice support for F-Droid? Apart from Pine64?

As for liability of list, I do not see the harm in users stating, “I have phone so-and-so and my experience with F-Droid is as follows…”. This list would be user-list driven. Not all solutions require additional funding. What is the liability in users stating her experiences?

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In that case just search the forum, if there’s a problem you’ll likely see someone bring it forward.

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There’s the rub. The forum info is inconclusive. Like Android Go, the posts trail off on whether F-Droid actually works with it.

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It’s true each app is built with a specific version of build tools and a target Android version. But it’s also true that each new Android versions has an admirable level of retro-compatibility with apps built with older build tools to target older Android versions. That means: one could have built an app 5 years ago for Android whatever and still running it fine with the latest Android version. (To my trained knowledge and also in my own experience)

Anyway, the most common case is the least complex one: an app built for the latter Android version running in the newest Android version. F-Droid falls into this group, since it’s continually updated.

I fail to see what’s the problem with Android upgrades, unless they boicot F-Droid directly or mess with some of the Android SDK’s APIs. In which case, by the way, F-Droid wouldn’t be the only affected, and if they ship Google Mobile Services, they won’t be allowed to release that version to the customers because it wouldn’t pass the GMS Compatibility Test Suite.

Maybe I’ve missed something: do you have a source for Pine64 officially supporting F-Droid in their PinePhones?¹ That’d be interesting. Specially since they don’t run Android by default, but a variety of GNU/Linux distros.

Again, I fail to see why a manufacturer needs to bless F-Droid for running in a device that runs any app that properly uses the Android SDK APIs and have been built with the proper build tools.

Anyway, if you want a name, Fairphone has a Fairphone Open official alternative OS for their FP2 model which doesn’t include Google spyware (i.e. GMS) and includes F-Droid and F-Droid Privileged Extension by default. That’s not a community toy, it’s an officially supported product (i.e. you can open Support tickets).

¹= which is weird itself, since PinePhones are tagged as “community devices,” not commodities or end-user products, but anyway

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@Roboe Fairphone is only for the European market. Last I checked, they will not sell to North America, unless you proxy buy. It is important for a company to state support for F-Droid. Most companies want you to use Google Play and prohibit side-loading, which means more control (for companies, not users). As for PinePhone, the idea is that you CAN install Android (or whatever) on their phones, tablets, laptops et al–if you want. That is the crux, choice, or lack thereof in these coke/pepsi times. Perhaps FairPhone or a clone will arrive in North America. There is the Purism phone, but that is expensive. I would rather blow that kind of cash on a laptop, but that is me (still prefer to keep it three digits). Some people I know do drop four digits on a phone without sweating it. I do like your idea of getting older phones with older Androids, yesteryear’s stuff, which is probably just as good. Or even better, an Ubuntu Phone or Jolla or whatever…but they are hard to find or overpriced.

Android Go is interesting (to me) because it is on the affordable end of the market. If anyone has an answer, let me know.

For the record, I didn’t say that. Don’t infer that from the 2015 Fairphone 2 either.

Do your research, old firmware may have major security bugs. I don’t know enough about Fairphone but they look more ethical than most. You might have found me my next phone! :slight_smile:

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@mouser I was coming here to research.

@Roboe Well, then it’s my idea, even better. Your words “retro” and “old” helped percolate that. Thanks.

@MAU Read what @mouser said above with proper attention. I’m all about restoring old phones (e.j. with postmarketOS), but not doing so for daily drivers because of vulnerable firmware that can’t be patched (since it’s opaque).

And newer phones don’t have vulnerabilities? The closed source system is a problem with all mainstream phones. Which is why we need more mature, open systems. If you listen to people like McAfee, sure he is a nut job, but when it comes to tech security, I believe him. All these new devices are vulnerable. It is just degrees of risk you are willing to mitigate. So your phone gets PWND, but you have nothing important on it, so you mitigate that way. However, if you install whatever game or app, willy nilly off of Google play, devs have access to a lot of stuff on the user they should not. Hence F-Droid. I have no illusion of safety for newer devices.

That’s fair, go wireless AND trustless :wink:

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Or just blindly accept the corporate line and trust things are secure because others say so and there is no way to really verify. That’s cool.

I mean, I could get a Sony mentioned on this forum and we all know Sony has an excellent reputation and history of respecting the user. I mean, they NEVER put a rootkit on their consumer products, ever.

Phones officially supported by LineageOS, /e/ or GrapheneOS are always a good choice:

  • Up to date (Android & scurity patches)
  • No bloatware from OEM
  • Google free

LineageOS has the most supported devices. > Device list:
/e/ is a fork from LineageOS with privacy focus using MicroG (open-source replacement for Google Play Service). >
GrapheneOS has a focus on security and privacy. >

Anything for North Americans?

There is the Fairphone, and your phone and these guys:

The one you mention costs almost as much as Purism when you factor in the exchange rates.

Pixel with GrapheneOS >

Okay, so I get an old Android phone, become a phone proctologist, then run the risk of the device getting bricked for an imperfect OS. Even Ubuntu admits that only a couple of devices runs smooth with their OS, when transplanted. I’ll wait.

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