With the ever-growing surveilling presence of advertisement giants like Google and Facebook on your personal devices (including smartphones), it is time you do something about it.
One of the most effective ways to do that is by installing a privacy/security-focused Android ROM.
You might be wondering why should you install a different Android-based OS on your phone than what is already included. Let me give you a few reasons:
- Your phone manufacturer partners with entities like Facebook to pre-install the apps on your phone, and simply uninstalling these apps may not get rid of them (they tend to get reinstalled when there is a new OS update).
- Usually, Android device manufacturers provide three-four years of updates. Most of which is limited to irregular security patches, and a few Android upgrades. With a custom ROM, you can extend the longevity of your devices by receiving updates for more than that.
- Since these off the shelf Android ROMs don’t bundle anything apart from what is necessary, your phone can feel more responsive due to the less bloat.
- Less pre-installed software also means fewer services run in background, resulting in a potential performance uplift and increased battery life.
- A lot of customization options.
- Easy to rollback updates (because previous versions are available on the website of ROM).
Please be careful if you decide to use any of these operating systems on an actual device. Flashing any third-party ROM on your device will void its warranty and may even render your device useless if not done correctly. Installing custom ROM also needs a certain level of expertise and even then you could encounter issues, especially if the device is not supported. We take no responsibility for any damage caused to your device.
With the important information out of the way, we suggest you always try it on a spare device if you want to experiment.
In addition to that, there are a few more pointers that you should keep in mind:
- Installing a custom Android ROM may enhance the security out-of-the-box. But, you will have to make sure that you take necessary measures yourself.
- All the hardware features that work on your phone may not work on custom ROMs.
- Unlocking the bootloader is a necessary step, and doing so can pose security issues.
This list specifically focuses only on Android custom ROMs. We have a separate list of open source mobile operating systems that include options such as Ubuntu Touch and PureOS.
Note: The list is in no particular order of ranking. You should choose to explore more about the options mentioned and decide what’s best for you.
LineageOS is arguably one of the most popular Android ROM, which is a fork of the very popular [but dead since 2016] CyanogenMod. Due to the popularity of LineageOS, you may find more devices supporting the OS.
In other words, you can expect support for newer devices sooner, along with a wide range of old devices, when compared to other custom Android ROMs.
LineageOS even supports Nvidia Shield TV and Jetson Nano (one of the best single board computers for AI and Deep Learning projects), in case you have one.
- Excellent first party and third-party documentation
- Timely updates for supported devices
- LineageOS follows the AOSP tree very closely (for people who want the most stock Android experience)
- Less “preinstalled bloatware” compared to your stock factory firmware
- The LineageOS project is a community effort, so not all hardware features of your phone may work right out of the box
- Does not offer a lot of security/privacy features out of the box
CalyOS is rather an interesting custom ROM based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Instead of not shipping the Google Mobile Services (GMS) and leaving users to figure stuff out by themselves (flashing gapps etc), CalyxOS ships with microG. However, you can choose to enable/disable it, thus, giving you total control.
CalyxOS is backed by the Calyx Institute, which is a non-profit organization to promotes individual rights like free speech, privacy rights, etc.
It comes baked in with some privacy-focused applications like Signal, Tor Browser, and more. Even though the support for CalyxOS is limited to Pixel phones, for the most part, it provides plenty of out-of-the-box privacy features for a user to get a head start with a degoogled android phone.
- Uses microG
- Ships with F-Droid and the Aurora Store
- Datura Firewall allows you to block internet access per app
- Uses Mozilla Location Services instead of Google’s Location Services
- Monthly over-the-air security updates
- Has verified boot for increased security
- Security-focused apps and features out of the box
- Only available on Pixel phones (but there is a good reason behind this)
GrapheneOS is yet another custom ROM focusing on security and privacy. Although, one may argue that their efforts have been more towards increasing security, and doing so also benefits your privacy.
If you want to install a custom ROM that comes with exceptional security tweaks out of the box, GrapheneOS should be a good pick.
Unlike some other custom ROMs, they do not include the ability to enable/disable microG, which happens to provide better support for apps that depend on Google Play Services. However, GrapheneOS can sandbox Google’s Play Services, which should let you make some features work. But, as of now, it’s still something experimental.
- Provides stronger and hardened app sandboxing than AOSP
- Uses its own hardened malloc (memory allocator with hardened security)
- The Linux kernel is hardened for better security
- Provides on time security updates
- Ships with Full-Disk Encryption (critical for a mobile device)
- Doesn’t include any Google apps or Google services
- Limited hardware support; Only available for Google Pixels as of now
- Security-focused tweaks may not translate to a noob-friendly user experience
You may think that /e/OS is yet another Android Operating System. You would be partially right. Don’t dismiss this Android ROM just yet. It packs so much more than any off the shelf Android based Operating System.
Like any privacy-respecting Android ROM, /e/OS replaces every single Google-related module or app with a FOSS alternative.
While it is a de-googled operating system, it offers all the usable replacements baked right in. So, it can be a suitable candidate for new users who are looking for an easy replacement.
Side note: The eFoundation also sells phones with /e/OS pre-installed. Check it out here.
- The App store on /e/OS rates apps based on how many permissions they need and privacy-friendliness
- Provides an ecloud account (with a @e.email; 1GB in free tier) as a synchronization account
- Ships with microG framework
- Google DNS servers (220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168) are replaced with Quad9 DNS servers
- DuckDuckGo is the default search engine, replacing Google
- Uses location services provided by Mozilla
- Limited devices support with Easy Installer
- Roll-out of new features from Android takes a while
This is not an open-source project. It has been listed as an additional option for users interested.
CopperheadOS is another interesting Android ROM. It was developed by a team of just two people.
Unlike other options, CopperheadOS is not an open-source project, and you probably cannot get your hands on it.
It is geared towards enterprise deployment. So, if you are someone who wants to purchase Android devices for your employees with security tuned in, this can be worth consideration.
- Good documentation, compared to any other Android ROM documentation
- CopperheadOS has had many of the security oriented features before AOSP itself
- Uses Cloudfare DNS (22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199) instead of Google’s DNS (188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206)
- Includes a internet firewall for per-app permission
- Uses Open Source apps instead of obsolete AOSP apps (Calendar, SMS, Gallery etc)
- Includes F-Droid and the Aurora App Store
- Questionable claims about the security of CopperheadOS after the main dev went different ways
- Only available with phones pre-loaded with CopperheadOS
- No indication of SafetyNet working on CopperheadOS
Honourable mention: LineageOS for microG
The LineageOS for microG project is a fork of the official LineageOS with microG and Google Apps (GApps) included by default. This project takes care of making sure that microG works flawlessly on your phone (which can be a complicated process for a beginner).
- Enabling signature spoofing to enable microG support can be an attack vector from a security POV
- Even though this ROM is based on LineageOS, as of writing this, not all of the LineageOS devices are supported
- Includes Google Apps (GApps) instead of providing Open Source alternatives
- No confirmation if Google’s SafetyNet is working or not
You may be wondering why some of the interesting Android based ROMs (CalyxOS, GrapheneOS etc) are only restricted to supporting Google’s Phones. Isn’t that ironic?
Well, that is because most phones support unlocking a bootloader, but only Google Pixels support locking the bootloader again. This is a consideration when you are developing an Android based ROM for privacy and/or security-focused crowd. If the bootloader is unlocked, it is an attack vector that you haven’t patched yet.
Another reason for this irony is that, only Google makes their phones’ Device Tree and Kernel Source Code available for the public in a timely manner. You cannot develop a ROM for said phone without its Device Tree and Kernel Source Code.
I would also recommend the following FOSS apps regardless of your ROM choice. They will prove to be a nice addition to your privacy friendly app toolkit.
In my opinion, if you have a Google Pixel phone, I recommend giving a try to either CalyxOS or GrapheneOS or CopperheadOS. These Android ROMs have excellent features to help you keep your phone out of Google’s spying eyes while also keeping your phone [arguably] more secure.
If you do not have a Google Pixel, you can still give LineageOS for microG a try. It is a good community effort to bring Google’s proprietary features without invading your privacy, to the masses.
If your phone isn’t supported by either of the operating systems mentioned above, LineageOS is your friend. Due to the wide range of support for phones, yours will undoubtedly supported at any capacity, be it officially or unofficially.
What Is a De-Googled Phone? A Google-de-googled phone is a device made from a smartphone that was originally created to run the Android operating software but has been modified to run other operating systems like Graphene OS and Calyx OS, both of which are free and open-source, so the community can review the code.Which is the best Android phone in 2022? ›
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Best Android phone overall. View now.
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. Best foldable Android phone. ...
- Google Pixel 7 Pro. Best camera Android phone. ...
- OnePlus 10T. Best fast-charging Android phone. ...
- Google Pixel 6a. Best budget Android phone.
Android OS is a Linux-based mobile operating system that primarily runs on smartphones and tablets. The Android platform includes an operating system based upon the Linux kernel, a GUI, a web browser and end-user applications that can be downloaded.What is the latest Android operating system? ›
Android 12 rethinks the entire user interface, from shapes, light and motion, to customizable system colors that can be adapted to match you. Redesigned to be more spacious and comfortable, it's our most expressive, dynamic and personal OS ever.Which OS is used in Android? ›
Android Operating System
Android is a Linux-based OS that uses Linux 2.6 to provide core services such as security, memory management, process management, network stack, and a driver model. It offers a wide range of libraries that enable the app developers to build different applications.
- Degoogled Pixel 4a (sunfish / bramble) From $358.00.
- Degoogled Samsung S10+ (beyond2lte) From $558.00.
- Degoogled Pixel 6 Pro (raven) From $868.00.
- Degoogled OnePlus 9 (lemonade) From $598.00.
- GrapheneOS. GrapheneOS is built on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). ...
- LineageOS. LineageOS is an open-source operating system for smartphones and tablet computers, based on the Android mobile platform. ...
- CalyxOS. ...
On Android, the number of bars displayed on the phone changed when the signal was adjusted under low channel loading. But the number of bars tracks the signal level and appears to be unaffected by channel loading, meaning that the bars represent the true level of signal.What are the top 5 smartphones of 2022? ›
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. If you're shopping for the ultimate smartphone experience in 2022, the Samsung Galaxy Ultra S22 is top of the tree. ...
- OnePlus 10 Pro. ...
- Oppo Find X5 Pro. ...
- Motorola Edge 30 Ultra. ...
- Apple iPhone 13 Mini. ...
- Google Pixel 6a. ...
- Sony Xperia 1 IV. ...
- Motorola G82.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the new king of Android phones.
- Best Phone In The World – Top 10 List. Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max. Apple iPhone 14 Pro. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. Google Pixel 6 Pro. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4. iQOO 9T 5G. Xiaomi 12 Pro.
- Best Phone In The World – Final Thoughts.
Android 10 (codenamed Android Q during development) is the tenth major release and the 17th version of the Android mobile operating system. It was first released as a developer preview on March 13, 2019, and was released publicly on September 3, 2019.What is Android operating system and its features? ›
|Sr.No.||Feature & Description|
|1||Beautiful UI Android OS basic screen provides a beautiful and intuitive user interface.|
|2||Connectivity GSM/EDGE, IDEN, CDMA, EV-DO, UMTS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE, NFC and WiMAX.|
|3||Storage SQLite, a lightweight relational database, is used for data storage purposes.|
It is currently used in various devices such as mobiles, tablets, televisions, etc. Android provides a rich application framework that allows us to build innovative apps and games for mobile devices in a Java language environment.What is the latest Android operating system in 2022? ›
Android 13 (code name Tiramisu) is the 2022 release of Google's mobile operating system. This latest iteration of the platform arrived after four beta cycles and a preview release that landed in February 2022.Which is the best and latest Android version? ›
The Latest Android Version is Android 12
At the time of writing, the latest version of the Android OS is 12, released on October 4, 2021. Of course, unless you're running a “stock” Android device, you may not have access to Android 12 for quite some time.
There are now nearly 1,300 brands that have produced over 24,000 distinct Android devices OpenSignal - Android Fragmentation Visualized - August 2015.Which OS is fastest in Android? ›
OnePlus ups animations and motion to really make it feel as though OxygenOS is far and away the fastest version of Android. The introduction of 90Hz refresh rate displays ups the ante further still.What is the full meaning of Android? ›
1. countable noun. In science fiction books and films, an android is a robot that looks like a human being. 2. uncountable noun.Who makes Android operating system? ›
Android began in 2003 as a project of the American technology company Android Inc., to develop an operating system for digital cameras. In 2004 the project changed to become an operating system for smartphones. Android Inc., was bought by the American search engine company Google Inc., in 2005.
About. GrapheneOS is a privacy and security focused mobile OS with Android app compatibility developed as a non-profit open source project. It's focused on the research and development of privacy and security technology including substantial improvements to sandboxing, exploit mitigations and the permission model.Which phone has the best performance? ›
- ₹ 45,999. Croma. ...
- ₹ 24,999. Motorola Edge 30. ...
- ₹ 17,499. Croma. ₹17,499 ❯ ...
- ₹ 14,990. OnePlus Nord N20 SE. MediaTek Helio G35 Processor. ...
- ₹ 18,499. Croma. ₹18,499 ❯ ...
- ₹ 30,200. ₹30,200 ❯ Google Pixel 6A. ...
- ₹ 12,440. Samsung. ₹13,399 ❯ ...
- ₹ 23,990. ₹23,990 ❯ iQOO Z5 5G.
- Blackview BL6000 Pro - barometer, air pressure, high-res Sony camera.
- Doogee S96 Pro - real night vision camera.
- Unihertz Atom XL - compact, robust, DMR walkie-talkie.
- Sonim XP8 - extremely durable, 3-year warranty.
- CAT S42 - affordable, reliable.
This Asus ROG Phone 6 is now the MOST powerful Android phone in the world! The Asus ROG Phone 6 and ZenFone 9 end up being the most powerful Android smartphones one can buy.What is a ghost phone? ›
Ghost Phone is a thrilling AR game where players can discover the secrets of an abandoned phone and solve the supernatural mystery of what happened to the previous owner – ultimately arriving face to face with haunting spirits that look realistic through augmented reality!What is ghosting your cell phone? ›
A ghost call happens when the recipient of the call picks up the telephone, yet there is nobody on the other end of the call and the caller does not leave a message. Ghost calls can occur at any time throughout the day, with the most annoying calls happening in the middle of the night.What makes a phone trackable? ›
Your phone's mapping apps can track your phone's location without an internet connection. The GPS works in two ways: It uses Assisted GPS or A-GPS when you have a data connection. This uses the locations of cellphone towers and known Wi-Fi networks to figure out where you are.Which is the No 1 phone in world 2022? ›
1. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: The best smartphone of 2022.Which 2022 smartphone brand is best? ›
In our mind, Samsung is the best phone brand you can choose in 2022. It produces excellent phones across a range of prices and has even managed to improve its lackluster record of software updates.Which smartphone is best in 2022? ›
- Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max. Best iPhone Overall. ...
- Samsung Galaxy S22+ Best Android Flagship. ...
- Google Pixel 7. Best Midrange Phone. ...
- Samsung Galaxy A32 5G. Best Affordable 5G Phone. ...
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Best for Artists and Photographers. ...
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. ...
- Apple iPhone 14. ...
- Motorola Moto G Power (2022)
- #1 Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3.
- #1 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3.
- #3 Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
- #3 Apple iPhone 13.
|1||Apple iPhone 13||23%|
|2||Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max||9%|
|3||Apple iPhone 13 Pro||8%|
|4||Samsung Galaxy S20 FE||6%|
The REDMAGIC 7 Pro is the World's Fastest Gaming Phone.
|Specifications||REDMAGIC 7 PRO|
|Storage||16GB RAM + 256GB (Obsidian) / 16GB RAM + 512GB (Supernova) with 6GB expandable virtual RAM|
- Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max.
- vivo X80 Pro 5G.
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
- Xiaomi 12 Pro 5G.
- vivo X80 5G.
- Motorola Edge 30 Ultra 5G.
- OnePlus 10 Pro.
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus.
- Google Pixel Fold.
- Huawei Mate X3.
- OnePlus 11 Pro.
- Oppo Find X6 Pro.
- Samsung Galaxy S23 series.
- Xiaomi 13 and 13 Pro.
- iPhone 15 and 15 Pro.
- Google Pixel 7a.
Android 12 delivers improved system performance so that your device can work in perfect harmony with you. A phone displaying the new Android 12 UI. The UI feels alive with every tap, swipe and scroll – responding quickly and expressively with smooth motion and animations.Is there an Android 11 operating system? ›
On Android 11, you get even more security.
With Android 11, you get even more security and privacy fixes sent to your phone from Google Play. The same way all your other apps update.
The tenth version of Android is a mature and highly refined mobile operating system with an enormous user base and a vast array of supported devices. Android 10 continues to iterate on all that, adding new gestures, a Dark Mode, and 5G support, to name a few. It's an Editors' Choice winner, alongside iOS 13.What are the 4 main components of Android? ›
- Broadcast receivers.
- Content providers.
- You Can Sideload Apps From Outside the Play Store. ...
- Lots of Hardware Innovations. ...
- Expandable Memory. ...
- Widgets. ...
- Diverse Phone Options.
You Want More Freedom, Control, and Customizations. Since Android is an open-source platform, it offers more freedom and customization options than iOS. You can customize almost anything on your Android device, from how your home screen looks to how you interact with your phone.What are two features of the Android operating system? ›
Multiple Language Support: Android supports multiple languages in its operating system and one can improve the language very easily based on one's obligation. Multi-tasking: Android grants support to run apps and assistance in the background with ease that allows the users to use various apps at the same point in time.Which OS is most powerful? ›
From Windows 95, all the way to the Windows 10, it has been the go-to operating software that is fueling the computing systems worldwide. It is user-friendly, and starts up & resumes operations fast. The latest versions have more built-in security to keep you and your data safe.
GrapheneOS is a privacy and security focused mobile OS with Android app compatibility developed as a non-profit open source project. It's focused on the research and development of privacy and security technology including substantial improvements to sandboxing, exploit mitigations and the permission model.Which Android operating system is better 10 or 11? ›
While Android version 10 introduced features like focus mode and dark mode, the Android 11 update adds up to these features by allowing users to modify them further. As a result, Android users can have a much more personalized experience with Android 11 as the OS can be customized to their own tastes.How many OS are there in Android? ›
Marshmallow (6.0) Lollipop (5.0) KitKat (4.4) Jellybean (4.3, 4.2 and 4.1)Which mobile OS is most popular? ›
Android maintained its position as the leading mobile operating system worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2022, controlling the mobile OS market with a close to 71 percent share, while iOS accounted for around 28 percent of the mobile operating system market.What is the most Android version? ›
Android 13, released on August 15, 2022, is the latest version, and the recently released Android 12.1/12L includes improvements specific for foldable phones, tablets, desktop-sized screens and Chromebooks.What are the 5 operating system? ›
For the most part, the IT industry largely focuses on the top five OSs, including Apple macOS, Microsoft Windows, Google's Android OS, Linux Operating System, and Apple iOS.Which OS do hackers use? ›
- Kali Linux. It is the most widely used ethical hacking OS. ...
- Parrot Security OS. ...
- DEFT Linux. ...
- Samurai Web Testing Framework. ...
- NodeZero Linux. ...
- Linux Kodachi. ...
- Blackarch Linux. ...
- Network Security Toolkit (NST)
The Purism Librem 5 comes with three kill switches, hardware-wise, that can turn off the sensors. These switches are located for the cameras, microphone, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular baseband. This phone has all the significant trackers disabled by default.Can your phone hear your conversation? ›
Foremost, our phones listen to us to virtually assist us. That's through voice assistant apps, like Siri and “Hey Google,” but also through personalized advertisements that follow conversations had on them.Do any phones come without Google? ›
Murena One is a privacy-focused Android phone without Google apps and services.
|Murena One specs|
|Display||6.53 inches 2242 x 1080 pixels IPS LCD|
Android 10 (codenamed Android Q during development) is the tenth major release and the 17th version of the Android mobile operating system. It was first released as a developer preview on March 13, 2019, and was released publicly on September 3, 2019. Android 10.Is Android 11 or 12 better? ›
At a glance, Android 12 is more customizable and personalized for you, and has a heavier focus on performance and privacy than Android 11. If you're familiar with Apple's personalization tools in its latest iOS versions, that seems to be what Google is trying to emulate in its latest Android version.