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Replicant 10 being worked on for the Samsung Galaxy S3

Red Android mascot as the Replicant mascot
Image via Replicant

According to a thread on the Replicant forums, developers behind the free software operating system have confirmed that work is currently underway to bring Replicant 10 (based on Android 10) to the Samsung Galaxy S3 more than eight years after it hit markets. Replicant is an Android-based operating system but tries to provide users with an experience free of closed-source proprietary software.

In the thread posted earlier today, a user asked whether Replicant 9 (based on Android 9) would be as fast as Replicant 6 (the current stable version based on Android 6). Responding, one member of the Replicant team clarified that active development had actually migrated from Replicant 9 to Replicant 10. They also clarified that Replicant 10 will actually be faster than Replicant 6 on the Galaxy S3 (i9300) because it now includes hardware acceleration for graphics rendering thanks to the Lima driver – an open-source reverse-engineered driver for Mali-4xx GPUs.

In terms of memory, the Galaxy S3 is nevertheless a bit restricted in terms of memory with the international version of the device shipping with just 1GB of RAM. Due to the nature of Replicant, however, Google apps are not included with this distribution and among the apps on F-Droid, there aren’t many particularly resource-intensive applications like you’d find on the Play Store so it may still hold up well despite its age.

Although it was one of the most successful Android devices when it launched, the Samsung Galaxy S3 (1GB model) only enjoyed official upgrade until Android 4.3 at which point Samsung started focusing on its newer devices. Unofficially, LineageOS 14.1 (Android 7.1.2) runs on the device and it's likely that newer versions have been ported by independent developers. Replicant’s efforts will allow owners of this legacy device bring it even more up-to-date.

It’s important to note, that due to Replicant’s focus on free software, Wi-Fi chips were not working as of Replicant 6 due to them using closed-source drivers. It’s unclear whether there are efforts to reverse engineer these drivers too or whether users will have to continue relying on their mobile data connection.

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