What is a “Privacy Phone” anyway? I’m glad you asked.
With the news about GOOGLE and APPLE exploiting your user data and letting apps from their respective App Stores mine all of the PII [Personally Identifiable Information] from you phone, it will be no surprise to many of you that a bevvy of Privacy Phones have popped up in the last 2 to 3 years.
Privacy Phone makers seek to make a device that keeps your data as anonymous as possible [Note: Most cell-phone carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile are still able to collect an enormous amount of information about your movements and activities online via your connected phone.]
In this country is it still our God-given right to limit what any person or organization knows about us, so making or purchasing a secure cell phone is not illegal [yet], but it does have a certain appeal to those who would subvert the laws of this great land. Because of this, the FBI and Interpol thought it would be a good idea to make and sell a fraudulently secure phone and collect all of the data coming from those phones in order to catch some of the bad guys. They called it a STING, I call it CRIMINAL behavior! But what do you expect from a bunch of spooks!
At this point you must think there is no one who can be trusted, and while that should be a valid concern to you, there is hope! Creators of Closed-Source or Proprietary software just have to be blindly trusted until flaws are found and submitted for repair. Programmers who write reliable, trust-worthy code often release it as OSS [Open Source Software], which allows anyone in the public sphere to examine and submit corrections. Open-Source code also offers the benefit of finding and calling out the collection of private data.
In this vein, a few software companies have chosen to use the open-source Android platform to create a verifiable privacy-based mobile OS. There is growing movement to de-fund Big-Tech like Google, Amazon, Apple & Microsoft who trade all of our PII for a meager ad-laden email account. And a privacy phone is the quickest way to remove yourself from their talons.
My current favorite in this group is GrapheneOS. They have built their product on the Pixel devices made by Google but with no trace of Google software and therefore no ability to track or capture your user data.
If this seems like too much effort for too little gain, then start by replacing the default Google or Apple apps with some of these more privacy-focused alternatives.