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I'm looking for phones with stock Android. I was able to find articles on the internet, but they mention mostly new phones, and I'm more interested in older (cheaper) versions.

I have Google Pixel (one) and from what I read, it's the one with "vanilla" Android. But there are some preinstalled apps on it - like Google Play Music, Google Play Movies, which I cannot uninstall (without rooting). I neither need nor use them and consider them bloatware.

Is it possible to find a phone from a manufacturer which does not have even such Google apps? Or they just must be there?

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    Android phones cannot be pure more than roughly, say, 70%. A huge codebase working at backend, not very much visible to the user, is hardware-specific (and so vendor-specific) and isn't part of pure/stock/vanilla Android (AOSP). – Irfan Latif Dec 4 '20 at 1:26
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    There are some Android brands (AFAIK, mostly Chinese brands) that don't have Google apps (because Google is blocked in China), or maybe non-certified devices that cannot have Google apps preinstalled. Otherwise, fsfe - Free Your Android, Liberate Your Device! – Andrew T. Dec 4 '20 at 4:00
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    You should look for devices running "Android One". Even phones from different manufacturer running Android One it is guaranteed that nothing is changed because this is not allowed for Android One devices. – Robert Dec 4 '20 at 8:01
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    Interesting, my Samsung Galaxy S10+ let me uninstall Google Play Music/Movies. However, there are plenty of things which I cannot uninstall like Bixby, AR Emoji for whatever f'ing reason, Verizon Cloud, etc. – MonkeyZeus Dec 4 '20 at 14:22
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    @Robert as far as overall user experience is concerned it's correct to say that Android One devices are nearly identical. But they are far from stock Android. For instance on Mi A2 Lite out of 216 system packages almost half are not from AOSP, including 46 from Google, 47 from Qualcomm and the rest from Xiaomi or hardware vendors. Similarly out of 107 native daemons 74 binaries are from /vendor/bin. Vendor specific bootloader, modem etc. are in addition to this. So I don't think we can call it a pure Android device. – Irfan Latif Dec 4 '20 at 15:00
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tl:dr; Google phones have the purest Android. They come with Google apps

In Android ecosystem, phones launched by Google are stock Android (aka vanilla). It's the purest form of Android because Google developed the OS and tightly integrated with the hardware (earlier Nexus and now Pixel). They come with Google apps, you can't avoid them, unless you root your device and uninstall.

If you are looking for a phone that is running Android LineageOS -XDA launched a phone that ran LineageOS /Ubuntu out of box. Such devices are more of an exception to the rule (running LineageOS out of the box, as you mentioned in the last paragraph of the question, though LineageOS doesn't qualify as pure Android)

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    A modern smartphone with true Linux and HDMI out? Color me impressed, and now there is one less early model left to snatch :) – PTwr Dec 4 '20 at 11:26
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    @beeshyams I'd say, even not modifying the core AOSP framework, Google devices are far far from pure Android (AOSP) like Android One devices are (see my comment: android.stackexchange.com/questions/231628/…). Google doesn't make changes to core AOSP framework is their plus point (though some good changes aren't always a bad user experience, see Lineage, Omni etc). But I think we should not accept Google's additions to AOSP a standard set of changes. After all Google is an OEM, like others are. – Irfan Latif Dec 4 '20 at 15:18
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    @IrfanLatif It's not my point that Google is ideal or right or a gold standard (it might have come across like that though). Those observations are only to underline what is stock and what isn't//Also see my comment just below yours adding to what you said!//Edit : Aosp vs Google comparison is a different ball game, isn't it? – beeshyams Dec 4 '20 at 15:22
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    @Ave yes, it completely does that on purpose. OP is looking for "manufacturers" phone (last para of question). Does any OEM give AOSP out of box? // That's what I also mentioned in the comment above yours – beeshyams Dec 5 '20 at 13:56
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    thanks, but still I don't get why did you state "if you're looking for a phone that is NOT using Android..." (then take a look at LineageOS) :( – Line Dec 27 '20 at 14:09
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How about looking for models supported by LineageOS? This is a ROM you can flash to your device, and you can even use it without the Google Apps (or flash them later)

Although they are not included in LineageOS as such due to legal issues,[44] users can flash the normal Google apps, including the Google Play Store and Play Apps, with a Zip package, usually referred to as gapps, while installing LineageOS.

You'll need to make sure that you can unlock your phone's bootloader/root the device (double check before you buy it).

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  • thanks, but the question was about Android. – Line Dec 4 '20 at 8:17
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    @Line LineageOS is Android, and it sounds exactly like what you want. – airace3 Dec 4 '20 at 9:06
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    I'm going to be an antagonist here. I would say that LineageOS isn't a "pure Android" experience, merely it is stock Android with a bunch of modifications which made it more customisable than stock Android. – MrSuttonmann Dec 4 '20 at 13:30
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The question has quite deep implications.

Android is not an OS, it is an "ecosystem".

There is Android Open Source Project. This is the "base" of the Android OS.

Hardly usable and you will not find pure AOSP on any factory phone.

Vendors get AOSP and build over it to make some phone firmware that fits their business model (it may as well be useful for the user, but this is completely optional).

Then, there is Lineage OS - a community-built Android OS made for selected phone models. In general, it is built just like the vendors' firmwares, except for not having a real business model and driven more or less by the contributors' understanding of usability.

LineageOS comes without any Google apps (not even Google Play, so you cannot directly get apps from it). But you can use OpenGApps to get either the bare minimum of Google stuff (like "pico" package with Google Play only), something more, or a full-blown Google suite. There are also great sources to obtain open-source apps, such as F-Droid.

Or you may skip this step and use some other means to get apps (a lot of limitations apply).

It's worth mentioning that neither Google nor phone vendors are happy with people installing LineageOS (or other similar packages). This breaks their business model. The process of replacing the phone vendor's software is intentionally made complex and challenging. In most cases, it also voids phone's warranty.

There are also a niche phone vendors that ship phones with LineageOS.

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  • thanks! could you mention such vendors? – Line Dec 5 '20 at 17:32
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    Just came over fxtec.com myself. I never tried one, but looks promising and I intend to order any time now. – fraxinus Dec 5 '20 at 21:58
  • p.s. looks like Google Pixel 1 is supported by LineageOS. – fraxinus Dec 5 '20 at 22:04
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In addition to the Pixel phones from Google, Android One phones also enjoy a clean interface and receive timely software updates and security patches. Currently, Nokia and Motorola phones are the most prominent Android One phones (see, e.g., Best Android One Phones in 2020.

Some phone brands like OnePlus and Realme keep their Android flavor light but I would not call them vanilla Android.

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  • and would you call Android One vanilla? I saw this article and exactly - those are prominent phones. and I don't want prominent one ;) (like I mentioned in the question) – Line Dec 16 '20 at 10:53
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    Since Android has to be adopted to the hardware you will always have some modifications to vanilla Android. I think that Android One is close enough but for me personally a light version with timely updates are the priority. – Itamar Dec 17 '20 at 12:15
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Sony Xperia Phones have a very close to Stock Android UI eg Sony Xperia 1 II

You can learn more about the latest update to Android 11 for the aforementioned phone in the following Youtube Video:

Sony Xperia 1 II Update Android 11 | 15 New Features.

Hope this helps & Merry Christmas !

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