Are there any real alternatives to Android other than iOS? Yes, and they are here!

Are there any real alternatives to Android other than iOS? Yes, and they are here!

Without Android and Google services, such as the Play Store, it becomes much more difficult for Huawei to develop a smartphone attractive to consumers. More difficult, but not impossible. Although few, there are alternatives to Android on the market that can be used as a plan B.

However, history shows that anyone who dares to challenge the green giant does not live long. Here are some modern alternatives to Android, and learn a little more about the fate of those who tried to defeat you in the past.

What exists today?

Fire OS

Fire OS, developed by Amazon, is not Android as we know it, but very similar. It is based on Android's Open Source source code (AOSP), but with Google services (app store, backup, maps and location, messages, etc.) replaced by Amazon equivalents.

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The Fire OS, used in Fire TV, a derivative of Android / AndroidPIT by Stella Dauer

Initially developed for Kindle Fire tablets, the Fire OS came to be used on a smartphone, the Amazon Fire Phone, which lasted a little over a year on the market. Currently still used on tablets and Fire TV, Amazon's dongle that gives a regular TV the capabilities of a Smart TV


Developed by the North American company Purism, PureOS is a Linux distribution used on the company's notebooks, the Librem family, and which will also be used on the Librem 5 smartphone, already in pre-sale.

Its main highlight is the respect for the user's digital privacy: the system avoids the use of apps, products or services that can collect information about the user that can be used to build consumer profiles and deliver advertising. So, for example, the default browser is Chromium (the Open Source version of Chrome, decoupled from Google services), and the default search engine is DuckDuckGo.

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Purism PureOS, based on Linux and respects the user's digital privacy / Purism

As based on Linux, PureOS comes with an integrated desktop mode. Just connect the Librem 5 to a monitor, keyboard and mouse and you have a complete operating system, with the same apps that you are used to using on a notebook or desktop. A resource that can be very attractive to professionals and the corporate market.


KaiOS is a descendant of Firefox OS (see more about it below), and as such targets low-cost devices such as Feature Phones. The idea is to offer some smartphone features (such as maps, YouTube, WhatsApp, Google searches, etc.) without requiring a more sophisticated operating system, such as Android, and all the hardware associated with it (more RAM, screen and larger batteries, etc.).

Kai OS is becoming very popular in India, where millions of people have the main form of communication on their cell phones, but at the same time do not have the necessary resources to invest in a smartphone.

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A descendant of Firefox OS, KaiOS brings many apps and smartphone experiences to Feature Phones / KaiOS Tech

To give you an idea, there is a device with KaiOS, such as the MTN Smart S, that can cost only US $ 17 (about R $ 70). Even an entry-level Android, like Nokia 3.1, costs 10 times more. Not surprisingly, 23 million Kai OS devices were sold in India in the first quarter of 2018 alone, and that it has quickly become the second most popular mobile operating system in the country.

Ubuntu Touch

Ubuntu Touch was announced in 2011 by Canonical as a mobile version of its popular Linux distribution. One of its main promises was the complete convergence between mobile and desktop computing: with a cable it would be possible to connect the smartphone to a monitor, transforming it into a complete personal computer.

The plans were even more grand, with the expectation that the system would be used in Smart TVs, Smart Watches, tablets, entertainment systems and more. Two devices hit the market, the BQ Aquaris E4.5 smartphone and the BQ Aquaris M10 tablet.

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Ubuntu Touch was even used on a smartphone and a tablet by the Spanish BQ / ANDROIDPIT

However, the industry did not buy the idea, and Canonical announced the end of support for the project, due to the lack of interest in the market, in April 2017. But like any Open Source project, Ubuntu Touch refuses to die: currently the system maintained by volunteers from the UBPorts project.

Sailfish OS

Sailfish OS was born out of the ashes of Meego, a Linux-based operating system developed by Nokia and used on a smartphone, the Nokia N9. With the acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft, the Meego project ended, but its development team refused to throw in the towel and founded a company, Jolla, to continue developing the concept.

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Sailfish OS, from Finnish Jolla, a direct descendant of Meego, from Nokia / ANDROIDPIT

Jolla launched a smartphone (the Jolla Smartphone) and a tablet (Jolla Tablet) with the system, before leaving the hardware market. There is also a version of the system called Jolla X, which runs on two Sony devices, the Xperia X and XA2. Today the company focuses on solutions for the corporate and government markets.

What's to come?


Fuchsia is the third, and least known, operating system developed by Google. Little is known about it other than what can be inferred from the source code, which is openly maintained in Git repositories.

The operating system appears to be hardware-agnostic, and capable of running on devices ranging from smart devices like Google Home to notebooks. Unlike Android and ChromeOS, which are based on Linux, Fuchsia is based on its own kernel, called Zircon. A rudimentary graphical interface is somewhat reminiscent of Material Design in recent versions of Android and Chrome OS.

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Concept of an interface for smartphones in Fuchsia, experimental system from Google / Ars Technica

During Google I / O 2019 Hiroshi Lockheimer, Vice President Snior in charge of Android, Chrome, Chrome OS and Google Play at Google, gave the Verge a rare statement about the project:

We are studying a new approach to operating systems. And I know there are people out there super excited saying Oh, this is the new Android or This is the new Chrome OS. But Fuchsia is not that. Fuchsia's goal is to advance the state of the art in operating systems, and the things we've learned from Fuchsia can be incorporated into other products.

Past ghosts

Windows Phone

Microsoft tried, but failed to score Windows Phone as an alternative to Android and iOS. The operating system debuted in 2010, three years after iOS and two years after Android, and since the beginning it has found rivals that are well rooted in the market.

Unlike previous systems, such as Windows Mobile, Windows Phone was aimed at the end consumer, not the corporate user. Its most visible feature was the Metro interface, which was also used by Microsoft on the Windows 8 home screen, before losing out on Windows 10.

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Microsoft tried, but Windows Phone did not survive the advance of Android / ANDROIDPIT

Windows Phone suffered from a tostines effect that ended up taking its rune. Few manufacturers have adopted the system, in part because of the hardware requirements imposed by Microsoft, which made the products more expensive. Its main supporter was Nokia, which was soon bought by Microsoft.

As a result, sales were low, which resulted in a small user base (which never exceeded 1.9% of the global market) and which does not attract developers. So the system was behind the availability of apps like Instagram, WhatsApp and games, which ended up discouraging more consumers, resulting in a vicious circle: There are no apps because they sell little, they sell little because they don't have apps.

Microsoft discontinued Windows Phone development in October 2017, and ended support in December this year. The company recommends that users (any left?) Migrate to iOS or Android.


Originally developed by Palm, WebOS was created as an alternative to iOS and Android and introduced to the world during CES 2009, along with the first device using the system, the Palm Pre smartphone.

You may not know it, but Android owes some of its identity to this system. Matias Duarte, Vice President of Design at Google, was responsible for the development of the webOS graphical interface and its guidelines for interaction with the user.

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The HP Touchpad was the only tablet with webOS, originally developed by Palm / Wikipedia

Although technically very sophisticated, webOS died of starvation. Palm did not have the resources to fight Apple or a multitude of Android device makers, and after launching some devices (Pre, Pixi, Pre Plus, Pixi Plus, Pre 2) it ended up being sold to HP in April 2010.

HP, in turn, even launched devices with the system, such as the Veer and Pre smartphones and the TouchPad tablet. Incidentally, it may fall to the Pre the title of product with the shortest shelf life in history: it was launched on October 17, 2011 in the United Kingdom, just 24 hours before HP announced that it was ending the development and commercialization of all products with the webOS.

The operating system was sold to LG, where it gained new life as a basis for the company's Smart TVs.


Tizen emerged from the ashes of other older operating systems that did not have the expected success, despite having their merits. The platform derives from the combination of projects such as Maemo (Nokia), Moblin and MeeGo (both from Intel). Currently, the development of Tizen is led by Intel and Samsung employees, although the project remains open source and available to everyone.

Samsung even launched a line of smartphones, the Galaxy Z, based on Tizen and running a version of TouchWiz, the company's graphical interface at the time, also used on Android devices. At the time this was seen as a Plan B if the relationship between Google and Samsung deteriorated.

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Today Tizen used on Samsung / AndroidPIT Smart TVs

Today, Tizen, like webOS, has found a new home. used in Samsung Smart TVs, and also in company smartwatches like the Galaxy Gear S2 and Galaxy Gear Fit.

Blackberry 10

Blackberry 10 was the last card from Blackberry, which has already dominated the smartphone market, to remain relevant after being hit by two hurricanes called iOS and Android. Technically sophisticated, the Blackberry 10 suffered a fate similar to that of webOS: stuck to smartphones from a manufacturer with little market share, it failed to attract enough users and developers to guarantee its survival.

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The strange Blackberry Passport was one of the devices with the Blackberry 10 / AndroidPIT by Irina Efremova

Blackberry launched 10 devices with the Blackberry 10 before deciding to abandon hardware production and license the brand to TCL. Today, smartphones with the name Blackberry run Android.

Firefox OS

How about an operating system based on one of the most popular browsers in the world? No, we are not talking about Chrome OS, but Firefox OS, launched in 2013 by Mozilla. The idea was to create a fully Open Source operating system, aimed at entry devices in emerging markets, such as India and Latin America.

One of the main highlights of the system was the use of Web Apps that ran without the need for installation and appeared among the search results, eliminating the need for an app store.

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Created for low-cost smartphones, Firefox OS was even used on LG / ANDROIDPIT devices

The idea survives today: visit m.instagram on a smartphone, for example, and you'll find an Instagram web app that gives you access to most of the service's features, including posting photos, without having to install the app on your device.

Mozilla achieved a great feat: it brought Firefox OS to Brazil and Latin countries through partnerships with major manufacturers, such as LG and Alcatel. Nowadays, by the way, even Google can't get Android Oreo Go in emerging countries due to low adherence. The end of the development of Firefox OS took place in May 2016, but its spirit still lives on descendants like KaiOS.


Ah, Symbian. He was once the absolute king of the smartphone market, present in covered devices like the Nokia N95 and Samsung Omnia HD. In 2006, a year before the launch of the iPhone, the system had 73% of the global smartphone market. Even so, in a space of 5 years he suffered free fall and died when he hit the ground in 2011.

Symbian was a victim of fragmentation and lack of direction. It was used by several companies (including Sony, Samsung and Motorola), but each had its own interface, and they were often incompatible with each other.

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The Symbian Belle FP2 interface, one of the latest versions of Symbian / Nonius 9 / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

With the arrival of the iPhone and the popularization of touch screens, Nokia (by far the company that most contributed and invested in the project) had difficulty adapting the system, created for use with a numeric keypad, for the new times.

Meanwhile, multiple in-house projects to modernize or create a successor to Symbian have drained company resources, and a success of devices that promised to kill the iPhone but disappointed with bugs or underperforming surprised consumers.

Nokia abandoned Symbian in 2011, when it adopted Windows Phone, long after its partners have already adopted Android. In the same year Symbian development and support were outsourced to Accenture, and in 2014 Nokia announced the end of all software development and system maintenance efforts.

Reborn, today Nokia uses Android, like almost all other manufacturers.

Have you used a smartphone with some of these systems? What memories do you have of them? Share your experience in the comments.

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