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Think it's time for a new phone, want something that won't spy on me, recommendations?

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,154
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www.uovalor.com
I've been grungingly just accepting that phones are spy devices for a long time but I want to take more action on this and change to something more privacy oriented. I'm also due for an upgrade anyway... my current phone is kind of starting to show it's age. It's a DTEK50.

Option 1 is a dumb phone, but I really want to be able to easily send texts (ex: full keyboard) and I also want something that can take good pictures. Not sure if any dumb phones have both of those features in one phone. A web browser is a bonus but not a must. Can be super primitive, I'd basically use it to login to local stuff so if I need to recode those web pages to work with the phone that's fine.
Option 2 is a smart phone, but one that has good support for a 3rd party OS like Cyanogenmod or something. Not sure what other 3rd party spins are out there but I'd want one that's geared towards privacy. From my understanding most of these are based on Android which is not exactly designed around privacy, but if they stripped out all the google stuff and rewrote a lot of the core code then maybe it will be fine?


I'm leaning towards option 2, so open for recommendations of a phone and OS that will work together. I tend to keep my phones for at least 5 years so I would want something that is going to last. Ex: a 3rd party OS that is well supported and phone that is also well supported by that OS.

I'm in Canada, so I also need to be able to buy it here, and put it on a network here. (currently with Lucky Mobile).

My goal is to use my existing phone as a dedicated device for the upcoming mandated vaccine ID app and it will stay off all the time except when needed, in order to try to reduce the amount of tracking it does. At least I HOPE that will work, not sure if the app will require the phone has cell/data service. May be able to tether it to my main phone. But either way I am due for a new phone so open to suggestions so I will figure out the vaccine app after.

I don't want to spend more than $500 but for a really good phone I might be willing to splurge more. I just want to ensure that it will support a 3rd party OS. Open for a suggestion for a 3rd party OS too as I'm not really up to date on what those options are.
 

Commodus

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 2004
8,531
5,717
136
I've been grungingly just accepting that phones are spy devices for a long time but I want to take more action on this and change to something more privacy oriented. I'm also due for an upgrade anyway... my current phone is kind of starting to show it's age. It's a DTEK50.

Option 1 is a dumb phone, but I really want to be able to easily send texts (ex: full keyboard) and I also want something that can take good pictures. Not sure if any dumb phones have both of those features in one phone. A web browser is a bonus but not a must. Can be super primitive, I'd basically use it to login to local stuff so if I need to recode those web pages to work with the phone that's fine.
Option 2 is a smart phone, but one that has good support for a 3rd party OS like Cyanogenmod or something. Not sure what other 3rd party spins are out there but I'd want one that's geared towards privacy. From my understanding most of these are based on Android which is not exactly designed around privacy, but if they stripped out all the google stuff and rewrote a lot of the core code then maybe it will be fine?


I'm leaning towards option 2, so open for recommendations of a phone and OS that will work together. I tend to keep my phones for at least 5 years so I would want something that is going to last. Ex: a 3rd party OS that is well supported and phone that is also well supported by that OS.

I'm in Canada, so I also need to be able to buy it here, and put it on a network here. (currently with Lucky Mobile).

My goal is to use my existing phone as a dedicated device for the upcoming mandated vaccine ID app and it will stay off all the time except when needed, in order to try to reduce the amount of tracking it does. At least I HOPE that will work, not sure if the app will require the phone has cell/data service. May be able to tether it to my main phone. But either way I am due for a new phone so open to suggestions so I will figure out the vaccine app after.

I don't want to spend more than $500 but for a really good phone I might be willing to splurge more. I just want to ensure that it will support a 3rd party OS. Open for a suggestion for a 3rd party OS too as I'm not really up to date on what those options are.
Definitely the second option. You're just not going to find a basic cellphone with a good camera setup. I'd also do what lxskllr suggests and grab the most recent Pixel you can and load a more privacy-oriented platform like GrapheneOS. The Pixel 5a sadly isn't an option in Canada, but the 4a 5G is nearly identical.

I also think you don't need to be so antsy about data that you use your existing phone just for a vaccine passport. Your phone is probably tracking you less than you think; you aren't nearly as important to companies and governments as you think you are. I'd put the passport on that new privacy-oriented phone if it were my device.
 

SKORPI0

Lifer
Jan 18, 2000
17,339
1,387
126
I use Surfshark VPN on my Note 9 512Gb and Note 20 Ultra 5G with Google-Fi. Not sure how it helps reduce tracking your actual/current location.

 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,154
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
Thanks for the info, definitely going to check out the Pixel and Graphene option. At $800 (hopefully that's CAD? The site does not really say. https://store.google.com/ca/product/pixel_5?hl=en-GB ) it's a bit over my budget but guess it is considered a flagship phone and should be considered good for a while right? Also I don't really care how important I think companies/government think I am I just want to stop as much of the tracking as possible either way. From quick reading it looks like GrapheneOS has a sandbox mode though, so I could run questionable apps like the vaccine passport in there.
 

MrSquished

Lifer
Jan 14, 2013
12,742
9,553
136
Your best bet is an Android phone with a custom ROM like this one specifically made for privacy



Just get a Google pixel and install that rom yourself
 
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Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,154
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
"Google will continue supporting the Pixel 4a for two years, so the NitroPhone 1 will not have the longest shelf life."

Yikes, did not realize this was an issue even for 3rd party roms. What is this like with the Pixel 5? Hopefully it's longer? That was one beef I had with my DTEK50 is that it had such a short life span then they cut off security updates. I did not realize this until after I got hacked. It was sold as "the world's most secure phone" but then security updates only lasted a few years.
 

Commodus

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 2004
8,531
5,717
136
"Google will continue supporting the Pixel 4a for two years, so the NitroPhone 1 will not have the longest shelf life."

Yikes, did not realize this was an issue even for 3rd party roms. What is this like with the Pixel 5? Hopefully it's longer? That was one beef I had with my DTEK50 is that it had such a short life span then they cut off security updates. I did not realize this until after I got hacked. It was sold as "the world's most secure phone" but then security updates only lasted a few years.
Don't think the Pixel 5's support will be particularly long. Rumor has it the Pixel 6 will get five years of OS updates, so that may be the pick if you want as much official support as possible for an Android phone.

(Apple is about to support some iPhones for six years with iOS 15, but that might be another thread.)
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,154
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
Don't think the Pixel 5's support will be particularly long. Rumor has it the Pixel 6 will get five years of OS updates, so that may be the pick if you want as much official support as possible for an Android phone.

(Apple is about to support some iPhones for six years with iOS 15, but that might be another thread.)
Yeah looked it up and it's only until 2024 for the Pixel 5. That's only 3 years really. I don't want to pay $800 for something that I will only get 3 years out of. It's too bad since this option was looking promising. Is the 6 something about to come out? I don't see it as an available option, but if I buy it as soon as it comes out I guess I'll get the longest support but it seems phones in general suck for that, they have very short support periods. I figured going with a 3rd party OS would get around that issue but according to Graphene OS site I guess they still need to rely a lot on core android stuff so when Google stops supporting it then they are stuck.

I guess it still does not stop me from getting it and just using it past support... it's still going to be more secure than my current phone.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,154
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
and you have to have many miles of phone cord if you go mobile...
Would be kind of funny to embed a cell inside the rotary phone case and use it as a regular phone but wirelessly. Pull that bad boy out in the middle of a meeting or something and set it on the table "Sorry I really need to take this call".
 
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Commodus

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 2004
8,531
5,717
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Yeah looked it up and it's only until 2024 for the Pixel 5. That's only 3 years really. I don't want to pay $800 for something that I will only get 3 years out of. It's too bad since this option was looking promising. Is the 6 something about to come out? I don't see it as an available option, but if I buy it as soon as it comes out I guess I'll get the longest support but it seems phones in general suck for that, they have very short support periods. I figured going with a 3rd party OS would get around that issue but according to Graphene OS site I guess they still need to rely a lot on core android stuff so when Google stops supporting it then they are stuck.

I guess it still does not stop me from getting it and just using it past support... it's still going to be more secure than my current phone.
Google has already teased the Pixel 6, and most likely it's just a few weeks away from an official launch. It won't be cheap, almost certainly in modern flagship territory, but you'll also get lengthy support. Just don't be surprised if it takes a while for firmware developers to provide an alternative to Google's stock experience.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,154
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
Yeah thinking of waiting for the 6 to see what it will be like but as you say it might be way more expensive. The 5 is already $800, that's pushing $1,000 after taxes, shipping, getting a case for it etc. But maybe the 5 will come down in price when 6 comes out so I'll see. Of course Google phone releases are tricky as normally they go out of stock the same day. But at least I'll get to see the price and I can decide from there if I want to try to get it or not.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,154
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
Welp. Missed out on the 5. Out of stock now. So guess I will wait for the 6 and hope I can get it. According to this site the expected price is going to be $990. Way more than I want to pay for a phone but the more I think about it even if the support period is super short not like I HAVE to upgrade at that point. My DTEK50's support is YEARS expired. I think it's just a reality of things that I'll have to put up with not having security updates for a long time. It's still going to be more secure than my current phone either way especially with Graphene OS which has tons of built in security measures that are not really update dependent, it's just secure by design.

Is phone insurance a thing? At that price, I will probably want to get it, in case I drop or lose it.
 

SKORPI0

Lifer
Jan 18, 2000
17,339
1,387
126

lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
55,082
5,073
126
Just don't lose it. Put it in a case, throw on a screen protector, and be halfway careful when you handle it. My phone goes from construction sites, to so far in the backcountry they have to pipe sunlight in, but aside from two cracked screen protectors I replaced, it's in near new condition. Damned if I'm gonna pay $144/yr to get the opportunity to pay someone another $100-$250 to fix my phone.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,154
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
Yeah if the insurance costs that much probably not worth it. I have yet to get a cracked screen on any of my phones or lost it. Had close calls with losing it but always was able to find it and it was always somewhere in the house or car. I'm more worried about losing it or falling inside a pool or something and not sure if the insurance covers that. But then I don't really go out enough for any of those things to be a risk.

Since even the newer and more expensive models have a short life span I think no matter what I need to live with not getting security updates for long, so I might even lean towards getting the 4a instead as it's way cheaper at $479. I just hope those prices are in CAD and not USD since it means it's going to be even more expensive. I just hate spending this kind of money on something that has such a short life cycle and is at a higher risk of being lost or stolen vs something big like a computer or something.

This is probably the best I'm going to do as far as security/privacy though. Been reading up on graphene OS and it sounds really good.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,154
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
Welp just pulled the trigger.

4a non 5g was out of stock so coughed up extra for the 5G one. That one may get updates a bit longer anway and at least I know I'll have 5g for when that network comes out here.

Was $767.27 total. Thankfully the pricing was in fact in CAD so no check out surprises there. A bit more than what I wanted to pay but this should be a pretty big upgrade from my DTEK 50.

Figured I should not delay as it seems they are going out of stock fast.
 

bigboxes

Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
33,316
11,434
146
Welp just pulled the trigger.

4a non 5g was out of stock so coughed up extra for the 5G one. That one may get updates a bit longer anway and at least I know I'll have 5g for when that network comes out here.

Was $767.27 total. Thankfully the pricing was in fact in CAD so no check out surprises there. A bit more than what I wanted to pay but this should be a pretty big upgrade from my DTEK 50.

Figured I should not delay as it seems they are going out of stock fast.
5G hasn't made it to Timmins yet? I've had it for a year and a half (S20). I picked up the insurance at the time of purchase for $100 for two years of coverage. The standard warranty on flagship phones is one year. You're going to have battery degradation after two years. I use a Spigen minimalist case to do the bare minimum. But I like a pocketable phone. I also change my screen protector every 6 months to a year. It's an investment for something I use all the time.
 

MrSquished

Lifer
Jan 14, 2013
12,742
9,553
136
The regular pixel 6 might not be much more then the 5 was. The pro will be the premium price
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
61,154
9,196
126
www.uovalor.com
5G hasn't made it to Timmins yet? I've had it for a year and a half (S20). I picked up the insurance at the time of purchase for $100 for two years of coverage. The standard warranty on flagship phones is one year. You're going to have battery degradation after two years. I use a Spigen minimalist case to do the bare minimum. But I like a pocketable phone. I also change my screen protector every 6 months to a year. It's an investment for something I use all the time.
It's sort of here but not really. It's just enhanced 4G that they are marketing as 5G. My current plan is actually 3G speeds anyway as it's a budget plan, I'm only paying $25/mo for it. Given the super low caps on data I don't really use it for much other than checking something online real quick if I'm not in wifi range so speed does not matter much to me.
 

bigboxes

Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
33,316
11,434
146
It's sort of here but not really. It's just enhanced 4G that they are marketing as 5G. My current plan is actually 3G speeds anyway as it's a budget plan, I'm only paying $25/mo for it. Given the super low caps on data I don't really use it for much other than checking something online real quick if I'm not in wifi range so speed does not matter much to me.
I use it all the time. I can't imagine having below 4G LTE. What they really need to do is wire smaller nodes to utility poles and be able to move around freely. Not just the big towers. Increasing infrastructure. 5G, is beautiful when it has the bandwidth. The problem is too many are on it. That's why they need to build out the small cells. Less dead zones.
 

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