We continuously work to promote Free Software in Europe. In 2022 we addressed technological sustainability, advocated in the DMA and AI act on European level, and defended Router Freedom in Europe – among other activities. To reach younger people, we organised a coding competition for teenagers and published a children's book on software freedom.
Keep using your phone with Free Software!
About Upcycling Android
Every year, manufacturers produce 1.5 billion smartphones worldwide - and unfortunately, probably just as many are thrown away after what is usually a far too short hardware lifespan. E-waste increases every year. The energy required to produce the devices is extremely high, and the manufacturing and supply chain spans the globe several times. With Upcycling Android we address the problem by extending the hardware lifespan of phones and Android devices in particular!
Renew and keep using your phone with Free Software!
Every time we keep using our current phone instead of buying a new one we help avoid the production of new phones and the increase of e-waste. "Upcyling Android" is an initiative to overcome software obsolescence and to extend the lifespan of our hardware with the help of Free Software. Upcycling our devices this way is an important step to rethink our short-term, linear consumption of electronic devices in favor of a circular economy. We explain the connections, offer help and make your voice heard by decision makers.
Get active! Help the environment, save money, and use Free Software as a tool for self-determination and against waste and obsolescence.
Open Letter: The universal right to install any software on any device
Software design is crucial for the ecodesign and sustainability of products and hardware. Free Software systems and services enable reuse, repurposing and interoperability of devices. The universal right to freely choose operating systems, software and services is crucial for a more sustainable digital society.
Read our Open Letter about "The universal right to install any software on any device" covering four core demands enabling a more sustainable use of electronic products and devices in the European Union.
Overcoming software obsolescence with Free Software
So-called "software obsolescence" occurs when the manufacturer of a device discontinues the support for software that is necessary to run the device properly. It becomes particularly problematic when the old version of the software is no longer supported and at the same time a supported successor version can no longer be executed on the existing hardware. In this case, the manufacturer runs consumers into the dilemma of either buying new hardware or living with outdated software and potential security problems. Software obsolescence is a major concern throughout the Android world. We show you how to overcome the problem with the help of Free Software.
Hardware often remains in good condition.
There are reasons why you might want to change your device. The device might become slow or non-responsive. Or the manufacturer discontinues support for the software and operating system, which can make the device unusable and unsecure. In most of these cases, the problems are ultimately caused by software. The actual hardware still works pretty well. So why toss away your expensive hardware? Wouldn't it be much better instead to update the software and keep using your device? That is what Upcycling Android is about!
The software can be replaced.
Phones and operating systems can be modified. An operating system is a collection of software that enables you to use your phone and run applications on it. However, you do not need to stick to the default operating system. You can install a Free Software operating system on your phone instead.
Your device can perform better with Free Software.
How many apps were already on your phone the first time you turned it on? How many of them are you actually using? How many of them run advertisements you are not interested in? Unwanted software and trackers often exhaust the battery and processing power of your device. Switch to Free Software and take back control of your apps. It is your device! Only install the apps you like and choose apps without ads. You will see your phone performing better than before.
Take control and make your phone yours
Phones with Free Software operating systems give you full control over your device. This way you have more control over how long to use and when to update the software on your device.
Reclaim your phone
Replace the operating system of your phone with a Free Software operating system. You can choose among several Android-based Free Software operating systems' "custom ROMs" or even install a complete GNU/Linux environment. Different operating systems come with different focuses. Some focus on giving users as much freedom as possible, others on their privacy, on usability, and more. You can choose for yourself which operating system best suits your needs. Your phone will be updated, upgraded, and upcycled! Enjoy the feeling of a new operating system, like having a new device.
Install Free Software apps
Even if you are still using your stock Android: Installing Free Software apps is possible on any type of Android phone. You can simply install F-Droid and immediately enjoy the biggest Free Software app store in the Android world! Browsers, maps, games, music, chats and more, everything in one place! Every app you replace with Free Software reduces your dependencies on non-free software.
Tired of replacing your phone every other year?
Are you aware of the impact that growing phone production has on our climate?
Join the movement
Join the movement and upcycle your phone. Together we can make a difference and help to reduce our natural resource consumption as well as our CO2 footprint. Installing a Free Software operating system on your phone helps to keep your phone up to date. This way you have more control how long to use your device. In addition, it comes with a lot of other benefits. Free Software gives you full control over your device; you can finally uninstall apps you could not before and you profit from extended privacy protection - just to mention a few.
Do it yourself
Installing a Free Software operating system on your device can be done by yourself. We explain the process and steps involved on our page about how to upcycle your Android device.
Keep in mind that this might be not an easy task when you do it for the first time. It needs some preparation and research in advance. There is however plenty of information and help available from diverse communities, on the Internet and locally. And if you like to tinker around with technology it can actually become quite some fun pretty soon.
Participate in our workshops
We organise workshops to help each other in Upcycling Android devices and to connect like-minded people. Use one of our devices; get some experience to learn how it works without having to use your own hardware.
And if you are already an expert in flashing phones, you are most welcome to help by sharing your skills with others. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spread the word
Help us get the message out! We have prepared information and background material for you to share with your friends, to put up in a community space, or spread it on the Internet. Let people know you are upcycling your phone and why they should do so as well!
Despite currently being the world's most used operating system on mobile phones, Android is by far not the only Free Software mobile operating system you can use. If you are curious, there is a lot more to discover. This means you do not need to install any Android based custom-ROM to upcycle your phone and gain more freedom. Instead, you can install complete GNU/Linux systems or other Linux-based environments on your phone (if supported). These are operating systems that usually put freedom first and whose development is totally separated from the Google dominated Android ecosystem. Read more about GNU/Linux on mobile phones on our dedicated upcycling page.
More about Free Software
Free Software is everywhere around! Millions of people use, share, and develop it every day. Companies sell services, communities surround the most popular apps, and a helping attitude welcomes newbies. Learn more about the benefits of Free Software for our society and join us in using and promoting Free Software!
More on software sustainability
Software sustainability does not only play a role in extending usage lifetime of phones. In fact, it is key to achieving a more sustainable digital society. The FSFE provides an in-depth article about the sustainability of Free Software.
This project is financially supported by:
The publisher is responsible for the content of this publication.
The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.
The icons are modified from openmoji.org and published CC BY-SA 4.0