As most of our usual readers would know, our main focus is reviewing hardware rather than software. However, when people from iodé got in touch, it was very tempting. iodé OS is a secure and basically an Android build without any of the usual Google stuff on it. So, no Play Store, etc, but that then means that Google apps cannot track you, and you cannot be, for example, targeted for those annoying ads for the same thing over and over again just because you wondered how long a typical cat lives.
What is very impressive is that not only do iodé make and sell their own phones with this clean iodé OS installed, they also have a whole suite of refurbished phones. They offered me to have a look, and I chose a Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
How do the prices compare for phones
The cost on their website is €349 for grade B and €379 for grade A, and you can choose an optional case as well, which is pretty nice.
Compare this to other available alternatives for refurbished (but obviously original OS) phones, and you get prices from £180 odd up to £280. So the price is definitely higher.
So I guess, what’s really important here is the iodé OS, and not just the hardware it sits on.
Having said that, my review phone is refurbished like new, has a 12 month warranty, and with a guaranteed battery life, so I am assuming a new battery. As anybody who has ever dabbled in refurbished devices would know, results can be fairly variable depending on where you get and what you get.
The look and feel of the device
As expected, it is a Samsung Galaxy Note 9, but with a different OS on this. This means that it looks and feels exactly like one that comes with Samsung’s own flavour of Android. So nothing special to report there.
However, the case which came with my review device is quite nice, has a wooden finish and offers nice protection straight out of the box, with plenty of consideration for ports and buttons.
Enough about the phone, what’s the iodé OS like?
Okay, okay, I just wanted to build up to this.
So, what happens when you boot up? Unlike your usual Android, there isn’t the request and the multiple screens that force you to sign in using your Google account. The phone boots up, and you have your apps that it comes with, and that’s it.
From there on, it is up to you. By that what I mean is that you can sign in to whatever you like, and obviously everything you sign into leave some sort of a trail. You don’t need to sign in to download apps though, but you will need to sign in if you want to say access Netflix or Twitter or similar apps.
Of course, you could use a browser to do most of these things, but apps are obviously better tuned.
Can I download and find my favourite apps?
In terms of apps, I couldn’t find many that I would have wanted that were not available here. So it ticked all the boxes there.
These come through Aurora, and then you have the MicroG services which do let you log into Google services as and how you want. This helps deliver notifications and keeps you connected to the bits you want.
You also get F-droid which offers a bunch of open source apps to give you even more privacy.
What are the native apps like
If I had to sum it up briefly, I’d say ‘good enough’. They tick all the boxes and let you get on with your phone. say you’d need it. You won’t be singing laurels about how amazing the camera or the browser on this phone is, but you are not missing out on much either.
What about the Samsung apps?
Nope. No. You don’t get any on this. It is more like a Google Pixel phone. Fairly vanilla and clean?
Does the S Pen work?
As well as a stylus, but you don’t get much more from it. None of the extra features you get from a Note device are included.
Android Auto and Android Pay
If you wanna check what doesn’t work on this, Android Pay and Auto were the two big ones that I found were missing from what I would need on a day to day basis. This could be the deal breaker for some, but obviously not all.
So, how does the iodé OS perform on a ‘bit old’ device? I really cannot complain. It works very well. Smooth, solid experience. No lags or delays. The stripped down version of the OS means that you’re not really using up resources. In fact, you wouldn’t know you were using an old device at all.
All in all, I think the iodé OS offers a really good alternative to anybody who wants to have a decent phone, at a fraction of the price, and with the added benefits of control over your privacy. Well worth it if that is what you care about!
More information about iodé OS and their phones can be found on their website.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is also available through their website.