In the wake of the ongoing conflict between the US, Huawei and Google, many Android enthusiasts are wondering what different alternative phone operating systems are out there. We have iOS from Apple at our disposal, but the cost of owning an iPhone makes it an impossible choice for many.
This question prompted me to make a list of other Android alternatives that are being developed or used in mobile devices. The options included in this list are open source, so any developer can grab and customize the code to create something new for free. Huawei itself builds its own OS but I didn’t include it in this article because details are scarce.
Best Open Source Android Alternatives to Try
1. Plasma Mobile
Plasma Mobile is the most efficient Android alternative that you can look for right now. This open source operating system harnesses the power of Kubuntu and uses the Qt platform toolkit. Plasma Mobile OS is currently in development and can be used on devices like the Nexus 5X. The developer also created custom images for tablets based on the x86 processor. Another option for using the Plasma Mobile interface is to go to the postmarketOS installation that provides Plasma as the interface. Another way to use Plasma Mobile is to see if your device supports helium and follow the port guide.
KDE is also working with partners like Purism to ship Plasma Mobile on a commercial device for the first time. The developer is also working on his plans to create a Linux-based mobile operating system that will be able to replace Android and iOS.
Just like Samsung’s Tizen OS, which will be mentioned later in this article, KaiOS runs on millions of devices (100 million to be exact). If you haven’t heard of KaiOS, it’s not your fault. KaiOS aims to make touchless phones smart by adding capabilities such as 4G-enabled apps, Wi-Fi, GPS, and HTML5. In the developing smartphone market in India, this open source alternative to Android has taken a hit with the help of JioPhone and has overtaken iOS to become the second most popular operating system in the country.
Like many of the other options on this list, KaiOS is also primarily a Linux-based operating system as it is based on the deprecated Firefox OS. Due to the exponential growth in recent times, the future of the open source operating system KaiOS looks bright.
Some of you might say LineageOS itself is based on the Android code, so what’s the point of including it in alternative operating systems? Well, primarily because it is currently in active development and LineageOS images are available for many devices. LineageOS itself is a competitor to another CyanogenMod custom ROM, which was discontinued in December 2016.
This open source operating system is now available for more than 180 smartphones from brands like Xiaomi, Motorola, Samsung, Pixel, etc. It also offers plenty of customization options that allow you to customize your device according to your preferences. So, if you are tired of Google’s endless tracking, you can use LineageOS to minimize this tracking.
Just like Plasma Mobile, postmarketOS is another Linux phone project that gets a lot of attention from open source enthusiasts. I’ve personally covered the postmarketOS journey from the start, and it aims to deliver a ten-year lifecycle for mobile devices. The operating system is based on Alpine Linux which occupies only 6MB of storage and is capable of running Wayland X-based environments such as MATE, Xfce and GNOME.
There is an extensive list of devices that can run postmarketOS, but the developer has not been able to run calls on the devices. However, given the ongoing developments and the growing documentation, I am very optimistic about the project.
5. Ubuntu Touch
Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux operating system is the most popular open source operating system. The company began working on a mobile version of the operating system and named it Ubuntu Touch, but the project was eventually abandoned in April 2017 due to a lack of market interest. Later on, UBports adopted it and started developing it as a community project.
UBports continues to release OTA updates for Ubuntu Touch from time to time. While there isn’t a long list of devices released for this open source Android alternative, it’s interesting to see the non-profit UBports Foundation working hard to keep Ubuntu Touch running.
6. Tizen OS
Tizen OS is an open source Android alternative based on Linux and backed by the Linux Foundation. The operating system is primarily developed and used by Samsung, and the operating system is mainly shipped with the company’s smart TVs, and smartwatches. and household appliances. The company tried to push Tizen in developing markets like India with its Z series smartphones, but it ended up with poor appetite.
Later, the Linux-based operating system was also found to be broken due to various security issues, further restricting developers from using Linux smartphones.
As I mentioned at the beginning, these Android alternatives are open source but most of them are still in the development stage. You can visit their websites, look at the list of supported devices, and follow the instructions to run Linux-based operating systems on your phone. If you find any of these interesting and give them a try, let us know your experiences in the comments section.