A couple of years ago, I started on a search for a private phone that would keep my data secure. You see, I’d spent years developing secure payment apps and consulting on privacy, security, and anti-censorship measures with friends and colleagues. I’d kept a close watch on the development of increasingly draconian measures to undermine personal privacy and security across the mobile landscape. So when I started my search for a cellphone that I could use without worry, I was committed to finding the very best option out there.
I started where you’d expect a developer to start, with a Linux-based phone that, while it was secure, couldn’t intuitively serve my needs. Many of the apps available on these phones were HTML apps that were unrealistic to operate, and the hardware itself wasn’t up to snuff. No shade to Linux developers, because making a cellphone from scratch is no easy task, but I found that I had to move on. After trying more than a half-dozen different cell phones I came upon the GrapheneOS operating system. It is a well-established, open source, non-profit project to build a privacy-first operating system on top of Google Pixel hardware. I thought I’d give it a try.
GrapheneOS Creates the Perfect Privacy Phone
It turned out to be the perfect fit:
- The hardware was high-quality, durable, and securely created
- The operating system was based on Android, so it was familiar to operate
- The security measures of the secure (GrapheneOS) operating system were mature and well-built
- The sandboxing of the apps meant that I had the freedom to download any app I wanted and the responsibility to choose only apps that would respect my privacy
- The secure mobile browser meant that I had the peace of mind to use my phone as I normally would.
I was excited about this solution! As I spoke with my colleagues – researchers, journalists, and other developers – many expressed interest in a phone that would keep them secure but that they didn’t have to be a genius to use. However, many of my friends didn’t feel they could re-program a phone themselves to use the secure GrapheneOS operating system that was available to them.
Rogue Phone gets a Privacy Phone into your Hands – No Coding Required
That’s when I decided to create Rogue Phone. It’s simple. I wanted to get people privacy-focused cell phones that they could use with peace of mind, and I had the experience of installing and setting up GrapheneOS on Android phones. With Rogue Phone, you choose the hardware type you want (out of the available Google Pixel Phones), then I
- Install the latest official release of GrapheneOS.
- Install the open source AuroraOSS app store.
- Optionally install the official release of Google Play Services (read more in our FAQ).
Rogue Phone offers these two different setups based on how you plan to use your phone. In our secure setup, all Google software is removed. In our daily driver setup, we install a non-privileged, sandboxed version of Google Play Services so that some app functionality will work, notably network-driven push notifications.
Either way, the result is a phone that has strongly secure hardware, without any of the privacy drawbacks of a regular Google Pixel.
The Benefits of Using Rogue Phone
Here are some quick benefits of this system. No gimmicks, no salesy language, just a list:
- Its security-first but open and flexible
- Your grandmother could use it
- The private browser allows you to use even your regular apps in a more private and secure way
- It’s built on high-quality hardware (not a cheap, throw-away phone… I’m looking at you, Freedom Phone)
- The GrapheneOS operating system updates intuitively and seamlessly
- Rogue Phone supports and relies on Graphene OS which has a proven track record of the team standing up against attempts to compromise the integrity of the Graphene OS project and placing it above personal gain.
- The Graphene OS operating system has consistent and frequent updates to add new features and ensure security and operability
- We respect your intelligence and will be explaining how to keep yourself secure and private over the long term.
Your deserve the RIGHT phone
I’ve been following web privacy and security for a long time, and I care about our rights to our privacy. I invite you to take a look around the site, at our FAQ, and our articles, and ask questions. We’ll be adding articles and educational pieces about how to stay private and secure in your day-to-day web interactions, but if you’re wondering about something I’m happy to answer questions. The best thing that you can do is to educate yourself on how to stay safe and secure online.