Best phones for privacy

Best phones for privacy

Privacy on our phones is more important than ever!

It’s far too easy to share your personal information online and not give it a second thought. But it’s even worse when you consider the everyday apps that are currently tracking you.

In this article, we look at some of the best phones for privacy that are available to buy right now, so you can keep your details safe.

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How to keep your phone private 

Every electronic device is hackable. Luckily there are measures you can take to protect yourself and your personal data, such as:

Secure your lock screen

This may seem obvious, but some people still only rely on a swipe to unlock their smartphone. To keep your phone protected, you should set a strong password or PIN.

Make sure the password or number isn’t related to you, such as your birth date. Anything too obvious is easy for a thief to guess.

Manage your location services

If you turn off your location services, you and your phone can’t be tracked.

Limit app accessibility

Many of the apps on your phone will request access to other things on your device, like your files, camera, or GPS. Make sure you have these turned off for apps that don’t need them to prevent oversharing information.

Don’t save password in your browser

Don’t allow your browsers, such as Safari or Chrome, to save your passwords. They’re actually stored in your browser as plain text, so if your phone is ever compromised, so are your passwords. 

Use a password manager

You can install a password manager to manage and keep track of your passwords online. You won’t have to remember the complicated ones or risk writing them down for someone to find.

Stick to official apps

Only download apps from the official app stores (Apple Store and Google Play Store). These platforms have security measures in place to protect you. Downloading apps elsewhere could open you up to malicious viruses.

Stay off public Wi-Fi

You can’t guarantee that public Wi-Fi will be safe and secure. Someone else could be on the Wi-Fi trying to intercept your data.

To avoid this, stick to data while out and about.

Activate Find my iPhone

For iPhones, you can activate Find My iPhone to track your phone if it's lost or stolen. You can also remotely wipe the data and contents from your phone if you’re sure you can’t get it back.

 

Best phones for privacy

Take a look at some of the best smartphones you can buy that have privacy and security at the heart of their design: 

Purism Librem 5

Designed with ultimate security in mind, the Purism Librem 5 is (as of 2021) the only smartphone recommended by the Free Software Foundation. Described by the manufacturer as the ‘future of digital privacy’, this secure phone lets you fully protect your information and maintain control over your data use.

Cost

Approx. £500-£1,300

Key features

No bank details required when downloading apps

Built-in antivirus software for added security

Source code available for audit

Continuous privacy updates

Isolated applications to prevent data leakage

Why it’s good for privacy

The Librem 5 operates on PureOS, which is neither iOS nor Android. Purism claim it’s the ‘most efficient operating system’ for providing security without sacrificing performance.

Tracking is disabled on both the phone and its accompanying apps, while the phone itself has a physical ‘kill switch’ built into its design, so hackers don’t get their hands on your data. When pressed, this switch disconnects Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microphone, signal, camera, and GPS for complete and total protection.

 

iPhone 13

iPhone 13

Released in autumn 2021 and still extremely popular with Apple customers, the iPhone 13 comes with a wide range of security features to keep your information safe.

Cost

£747.99

Key features

Face ID

2 Factor Authentication (Face ID and PIN)

iOS 15, enabling more secure app permissions

Cloud backup

Identity confirmation via other Apple devices before admitting Cloud access

Why it’s good for privacy

Only your face can unlock the iPhone 13, so if it’s lost or stolen, the culprit won’t be able to access your data. Plus, as with all apple phones, Find My iPhone means you can locate your missing handset and lock it, as well as remotely erasing all data if you think it has been compromised.

The iPhone 13 also has iCloud technology enabled, so you can store any important data in the event of changing devices*.

*As long as it’s to another iPhone, your information should be saved.

Buy your iPhone 13 here

 

Apple iPhone 12

iPhone 12

An oldie but goldie by Apple standards, the iPhone 12 still has plenty of safety features in place to keep your phone secure.

Cost

£647.99

Key features

Face ID

2 Factor Authentication (Face ID and PIN)

iOS 14, where apps must ask your permission before tracking you

Cloud backup

Identity confirmation via other Apple devices before admitting iCloud access

Why it’s good for privacy

A core feature of iOS 14, which comes as standard with any iPhone 12, is that apps must ask permission to track you before you open them, giving you more control. Backing up your phone’s contents via iCloud is also great for securing personal information without having to go through the rigmarole of trying to access it!

Just remember, if you’ve got other Apple devices, you’ll have to confirm via them that it is in fact you trying to access your Cloud. This is another layer of security that Apple products offer.

Buy your iPhone 12 here

 

Google Pixel 7

Launched at the tail end of 2022, the Google Pixel 7 puts privacy at the forefront of its ethos. Enhancing security for smartphone users everywhere, Google has given this handset several features that will help better protect your data.

Cost

Approx. £599

Key features

Tensor G2 and Titan core security protocols

Continuous updates

Brings Google’s ‘Protected Computing’ approach to the Pixel range

Redesigned Android Security & Privacy hub (TBC)

Built-in VPN (TBC)

Why it’s good for privacy

As the Pixel’s newest core processor, the Tensor G2 has been custom-built with AI and works with a Titan M2 security chip to keep personal information, including PINs and passwords, extra safe.

Five years of continuous security updates await with this device, as well as being built with Google’s ‘Protected Computing’ strategy in mind - which is all about data minimisation for greater protection. 

 

Bittium Tough Mobile 2C

Founded in 1985, Bittium specialises in producing secure phones for governments, leading authorities and anyone else needing advanced data protection. As such, the price tag for the Tough Mobile 2C is high, but if you want end-to-end security, you can’t go wrong here!

Cost

Approx. £1,000-£4,000

Key features

Customisable for various security requirements

Easily activated Privacy Mode

Tamper-proof, protecting against hardware manipulation and data theft

Emergency buttons enabled

Three variants, depending on customer preference

Why it’s good for privacy

The Bittium Tough Mobile 2C’s Privacy Mode is not only easily used, but also clear to see in action. By holding the button in the top right corner, a green light will come on, disabling the camera, mic and Bluetooth to ensure no one’s spying on you.

Likewise, Bittium’s Secure Suite device management software comes as standard, allowing individuals and organisations to communicate more securely. User credentials are encrypted and stored privately, so no one other than you can see your passwords and sensitive information.

 

Silent Circle Blackphone 2

An encrypted communications company specialising in privacy, Silent Circle are like Bittium in that they target governments and other organisations that require strict security measures. The main difference? Their products are more widely available to the general public! 

Cost

Approx. £799

Key features

Default encryption

Apps have to ask permission before tracking, saving and storing your information

Blackphone Security Centre management system

Spaces to separate your private and professional data

Silent Phone licence for secure calls and video conferencing (purchased separately)

Why it’s good for privacy

The main feature on the Blackphone 2 that stands out is ‘Spaces’. You can create up to four different areas, distinguishing between your personal and professional data while always using the same handset.

Each Space functions as its own individual user profile, with apps and settings differing between the areas - depending on your needs. Simply tap the relevant icon in the Security Centre app or notifications panel to easily switch from Space to Space.

 

Fairphone 4

Despite initially prioritising the environment with its handset offering, Fairphone has since expanded its priorities into the area of data security, realising customers want reassurance in this aspect of phone use perhaps more than anything else!

Cost

Approx. £499-569

Key features

Lockable SIM

Android Device Manager, which lets you wipe your lost or stolen phone from anywhere in the world

You can also set a new password remotely with Android Device Manager

Operates on /e/OS, partnering with /e/ Foundation, to maintain user privacy

Continuous security updates

Why it’s good for privacy

Protecting your SIM every step of the way, the Fairphone 4 requires a unique PIN every time you start it up. This means, if the handset ever falls into the wrong hands, they won’t be able to call, text or use your data in any potentially harmful way.

Fairphone’s partnership with /e/OS, unlike other operating systems, means you don’t have to worry about constant scanning or tracking from apps. This software even alerts you if an app tries to track your phone, so you always remain protected.

 

Other ways to protect your phone

While phones designed with extra privacy features are helpful, you can always do more to keep your smartphone safe.

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