Degoogled Phones

Looking for thoughts from everyone on degoogled phones, in particular, the ones offered online on Rob Braxman’s site. Are these a good value?

I’m asking because I honestly don’t think the Purism L5s will be at shipping parity for a year or more, and this seems right now, (maybe late 2022 IMO, but let’s not debate that) the best option out there for a daily driver. Hopefully in a year or two, the L5 will be there, and affordable, but right now, there doesn’t seem to be one.

I bought a Pixel 3 off ebay with Lineage 17.1 and I really like it. Very easy to use for a non-techie like me. I have a Pixel 4a with Lineage 18.1 from ebay coming Monday.
I thought Braxmans prices were high.
I like Lineage

2 Likes

Before buying any particular device, you should confirm that it is VoLTE-capable on a carrier that serves your area, especially if you’re in the U.S.

1 Like

So is the process to degoogle a phone doable for most folks? Seems like he also installs apps and so forth as well. Not sure if it’s worth what he is asking, but I guess you are paying for a finished solution, especially for a novice?

Seems like he has google pixel 3XL and 4XL mostly.

I haven’t done it myself, but I do know a given replacement OS usually can only be installed on specific models and brands. (Some OS work on many models and brands, some not so many.)
…If you’re asking about replacing the OS…because some deGoogling can be achieved without going to that level.

1 Like

Can’t speak to the phones on Braxman’s site, but for a de-googled phone…

Since the Librem 5 shipping info was posted (meaning I’ll likely not get it for another year) I decided to buy a Pixel 4 and put GrapheneOS on it. The process is pretty simple, the biggest shortcoming are apps that require Google Play services (I’m currently using Fdroid and Aurora Store for getting apps installed).

Aside from things like outlook not working 100% (yay, an excuse not to have work on my phone!), I haven’t run into many issues. Location services get a bit weird in some apps, but most of what I need functions fine.

I don’t have a ton of apps installed on my phone, so my usecase may be very different from yours, but so far I like it. I haven’t looked at my iPhone 8 since…

1 Like

I bought a Pixel 4a and put Calyx OS on it. Easiest phone is installation I have ever done and I could no t be happier with the result. It comes with microG installed and it also has a firewall so you can block specific apps from internet access (handy for installing the google camera, because the generic AOSP camera is garbage).

It is awesome.

1 Like

Sorry Bass20 I didn’t catch your question till now. I bought the phones and they already had been deGoogled and had Lineage installed. I have seen articles on the internet that explain how it’s done but it’s beyond my skill level.

1 Like

My backup phone runs /e/OS which is quite good IMHO. I am also aware of the Vollphone but I don’t have any experience with it. You can order it duty-free for non-European countries from their Indiegogo site so you don’t end up paying taxes twice.

For my main phone I use Sailfish OS (which doesn’t strictly count as “Degoogled” because it never had anything to do with Google in the first place), but the official version is only available in certain countries. Some people get around that by ordering/downloading over a VPN - I can’t comment on whether that is a good or bad idea. There are also free community builds of Sailfish OS around for a variety of phone models.

I’m keeping the faith with the L5, so I’ll keep my current setup going and hope for good news in October (I backed on the very last day of the crowdfunding campaign).

2 Likes

My daily driver is a Pixel 4a with GrapheneOS installed on it. All of the apps that I use on a regular basis are available on F-Droid and Aurora or I simply download and install the apk. I cannot recommend GrapheneOS enough.

1 Like

I bought one of his phones; it might be more expensive the diy but since I have learnt some useful tricks from him I thought it important to support him as he helps less technical people understand the risks to their personal data.

His phone comes with a stock of already installed apps with lineage 17 (I just got the prompt to update to 18, yesterday, so in the future it may be lineage 18). I have assiduously avoided putting any google related apps on the device, especially google play. Like others I use fdroid and aurora for installing apps. As far as I can tell I have no PII directly accessible on the phone.

The biggest challenge that I see for it is e-commerce and, now, state mandated apps. As an example of ecommerce problems, I use calibre on my linux machines and was using Calibre Companion on my old android, but it requires google play as it is a paid app. As a result I cannot use it on the de-googled phone. Threema, on the other hand, apparently allows one to pay for the app online and install it separately.

Maps works surprisingly well. I used magic earth the other day when I went out of the city and thought it worked admirably. It is a closed app, which worries me, but I haven’t been able to figure out how they could get any PII about me from the device so I am still using it. Their privacy policy is here.

3 Likes

I found this helpful and informative

https://centipedenation.com/second-column/the-privacy-guy-rob-braxman-on-using-de-googled-phones/

2 Likes

I have been installing LineageOS and F-Droid on phones since 2015 (mainly on Motorola and Xiaomi, because I didn’t want to pay over $200). I have had pretty good experience using LineageOS, but every time I have installed LineageOS, it has taken me a lot of trial and error to figure out what I was doing wrong. See: https://amosbbatto.wordpress.com/2019/11/17/why-we-dont-own-our-mobile-phones/

Before you buy a phone, look at the comments about that particular model and LineageOS on the XDA Developers forum. You will save yourself a lot of trouble by only selecting a model where everything is already reported to work. Also, be absolutely sure that you can unlock the bootloader before buying any model. I bought a used Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, intending to install LineageOS, but Verizon had blocked the bootloader, so it became more e-waste.

I haven’t tried CalyxOS and GrapheneOS because they are only developed for the Google Pixel. The lead dev for GrapheneOS is a real jerk–I have had arguments online with him, and he seems delusional and paranoid.

5 Likes

This is very good advice.

2 Likes

Completely agree. You save yourself a lot of trouble by doing this.


https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/
https://calyxos.org/get/
1 Like

Let’s not talk negatively about someone on a forum. Bass20 posted asking about degoogled phones and not about your opinion of someone. Regardless, GrapheneOS (and CalyxOS) are phenomenal.

1 Like

I feel like I can trust Braxman, and while may be a bit overpriced, I also feel I would know everything is working properly, and I don’t want to attempt it myself and brick it :rofl:

A degoogled phone seems the only good choice for now, for a daily driver, as Rob points out in one of his videos, and he says he has a L5 on order and doesn’t expect it at best until the end of this year. I wouldn’t expect a L5 until 2022 as I haven’t even ordered yet, and likely won’t, until shipping parity is reached.
So, in short, degoogled phone seems my best option?

1 Like

Yeah. I use GrapheneOS as my daily driver and will be until I can get my hands on a Librem 5.

That was my decision.

1 Like