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I have just bought a Smart V8 to replace my old Apple 4.
It seems it won't let me do much unless I open a Google account. I don't want a Google account. Is it absolutely necessary to have one? How do I get onto the web to search for apps etc without one?
You won't be able to do much with an Android phone without a gmail account much as you can't use an iPhone without an Apple ID.
You don't need to use the gmail account for anything but you will need one.
The Google Account is very much integrated into Android phones.
When I moved from the iPhone 6 Plus to the Samsung Galaxy s7 edge I found that the Google Account is essential.
I know some are already concerned on what Google knows about our lifes but I find the Acco U t is unobtrusive and can be set to your own preferences on what Google can collate etc.
Current Phone > Samsung Note 9 _512Gb > Model: SM-N960 Hybrid-Duos.
Samsung One Ui / Pie.
Samsung Gear s3 Frontier Watch.