Being without a smartphone in this day and age is nearly impossible, but you can still protect your privacy while using one. Here is a quick guide on how to set up the ultimate privacy phone.
Find a Cell Phone Provider
AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are the biggest cell phone carriers in the U.S., but it's no secret that they sell off data. Personal data including names, addresses, and internet search history are sold to the highest bidder.
The best step you can take in building the ultimate privacy phone is to find an alternate cell provider.
Contract plans run a credit check that requires SSN, name, etc. Prepaid plans don't require that info.
Although they're owned by the big guys, companies like Visible and Mint Mobile allow you to set up accounts with very little information. Some just require an email.
If you don't want a plan at all, you can use apps like Google Voice or Burner to generate random numbers in your area code.
Change your OS
For privacy’s sake, it may be best to dead iOS and AndroidOS entirely.
GrapheneOS is a privacy and security-focused mobile OS. It's completely free and open-source.
It does not include any Google Play services or apps. Only a few apps are directly available, such as Vanadium, a hardened variant of the open-source Chromium browser.
There is also a wide range of security-focused apps, including a PDF viewer, a camera, and an encrypted backup app.
And battery life is better than most smartphones because all of the Google services that are cut out.
With minor use such as checking news from time to time and browsing, phones can last for up to 10 days without a charge.
Pick the Right Apps
You shouldn't have to surrender your data to companies just because an app is "free". By downloading apps from private app stores, you can still enjoy the same level of convenience and service.
F-Droid is a catalog of free and open-source privacy apps. You do not need an account to search for and install apps. You can download it directly from their website.
There are simple apps like OpenBoard, a keyboard app that has no dependency on Google binaries so the things you type aren't tracked.
Organic Maps is a navigation app that doesn't require an internet connection. So if you really need to get off the grid, you can download the map, and toss your SIM card without a byte being sent to the network.
And you can still browse social media with apps like Fritter, Infinity, or Barinsta without needing to log in.
Choose a cell phone provider that doesn't ask for a bunch of information, or lock you into a contract. Or, consider an app like Burner that generates random cell numbers.
GrapheneOS is a solid alternative to iOS and Android. Just be sure the phone you get is compatible with it.
Avoid the tracking and data collection of Google and Apple app stores. Consider using F-Droid alternative apps.
And to keep your new phone private, take some action against data brokers.