Google Pixel phone hardware meets stringent privacy and security standards and provides a well-built baseline on which to work. There are other phone models out there custom-built for security, but we’ve found them difficult to use.
Google Pixel phones using GrapheneOS are easy-to-use, familiar to many, and have substantial upstream and downstream security hardening specific to the hardware itself.
Hardware, firmware and software specific to devices (like drivers), play a huge role in the overall security of a device. Meanwhile, manufacturing a high-quality phone is a big undertaking. We utilize Google Pixel phones because they’re well made and have strong security features available on which to build.
Why can’t we use another phone?
Here’s what Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the International Computer Science Institute had to say about other android phones (besides the Google Pixel and the Google Nexus): He recommends other Android users toss their phones in the trash. “Most Android phones don’t meet the security requirements of a teenager,” he says. But that’s not exactly a secret. These phones have long been criticized for slow updates and out-of-date software that makes users vulnerable to a whole host of publicized security flaws.
By the way, the much-marketed Freedom phone is built on one of these non-secure Android phones though they *don’t tell you which one* – which should be a warning sign in itself. But the going guess is that it’s just a bulk-purchased Chinese phone called the Umidigi A9 Pro, available from AliExpress.com for $156, and purchasable in bulk from Alibaba for $118 to $135 per phone. Do yourself the service of getting a phone with strong hardware that will last.
But can you trust it?
Rogue Phone offers 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. You can read more about the details in our FAQ.
Either way, the result is a phone that has strongly secure hardware and software, without any of the privacy drawbacks of a regular Google Pixel.
If you’d like to explore private phones that don’t use Google Pixel hardware, there are other options1 out there.