[OPINION] The Hated One: ACTUALLY! Android is more private than the iPhone!


Great video which explains why android CAN be much, MUCH more private than iOS, but it’s important to acknowledge most people will never modify their devices to take advantage of this. Therefore, companies like Xiaomi will steal your data ALONG with google, while having control and access to your location on terms much worse than apple.

I’d argue for a completely technologically illiterate person, iphones work better than most android phones (except a few like pixels) for privacy, but both setups are completely awful. I’ll be using grapheneOS for the forseeable future, and have no intention to switch. If you can, get lineageOS.


An academic foray into iOS and Android data privacy found that neither ecosystems are more private than the other (cf. Data Security on Mobile Devices: Current State of the Art, Open Problems, and Proposed Solutions – arXiv Vanity). That study was done on older versions of the OSes, but since I follow (and teach) AOSP development closely, Android does appear to be further ahead than most OSes as far as data privacy is concerned. I wrote a comment on hacker news outlining some of the recent innovations in Android: *ex-AOSP dev here* Android and ChromiumOS are likely the most trustable computin... | Hacker News

This video by the hated one goes on and on about GrapheneOS, but I doubt they know all the technical details because they keep saying GrapheneOS is “anonymous” in the same vein as Tails / Whonix (it isn’t). I think, by default, it is super hard (if not impossible; US cell carriers are selling access to real-time phone location data | Hacker News / The second operating system hiding in every mobile phone | Hacker News) to expect anonymity with every day use smart phones, but of course, CalyxOS / DivestOS / GrapheneOS are much better at privacy and security (doubly so for GrapheneOS) than most other custom ROMs (in fact, some of the custom ROMs are insecure than OEM ROMs which are updated fairly regularly for security exploits, of which there are many. I mean, just look at this: Corrupting memory without memory corruption - The GitHub Blog or that: Grant H. - Tailoring CVE-2019-2215 to Achieve Root).


If your going to a protest against China, knowing China will do anything to obtain your phones data to punish you, which phone would you use? A heavy one you can use as a brick.

For everyone not going to a protest it depends.

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Yes Graphene os is the best mobile operating system for privacy and security but you know that the team behind it will still only support pixel phones but i hope they support more Android phones by 2030 because we need more options besides Google

If you’re protesting against the CPC you’re going to need to fulfill several criteria as they will use every single option available to spy on you (this is regarding a phone):

  1. You’ll want a FOSS, private, and secure OS like grapheneOS.
  2. You’ll want to use the device in exclusively airplane mode, and only connect to public wifi. Use TOR with a bridge that works in china to mask your activity.

You’re right in saying that nothing less than the very best privacy will be enough in this case, and grapheneOS (or MAYBE lineageOS) is your best option here.

However, CPC’s camera surveillance system is so well developed that you’ll need to have good physical opsec as well. THO has another video on this, but it involves dark unmarked clothing, masks, bandannas, a change of clothes in a bag, etc.

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ex AOSP dev here

You’re taking a leap of faith that the closed source Baseband that your Android came with isn’t capable of turning itself ON and pinging the cell towers. I can tell you that it absolutely can. And if it absolutely does is anyone guess. I must note that folks at Graphene claim that their Pixel impl does protect against this: Reddit - Dive into anything

One must remove the SIM card to be sure. And of course, use a burner phone.


Bit off-topic about the iPhone.

I am still mad about Apple tracking users who opt out of Apple Analytics.

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Would you believe this? I’m a grpaheneOS user and while I wouldn’t trust my old xiaomi on airplane mode, I do tend to use my pixel on airplane mode a lot. Also, how would removing the SIM protect against pinging cell towers? Doesn’t that happen regardless of whether there is a SIM? (eg for emergency calls) I’m not an expert my any means but I’d like to understand why you suggest doing this.

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i generally trust the airplane mode of my grapheneos pixel as far as my device isnt compromised completely. recently there was a day in my country where every citizen got a test wireless emergency alert at a specific time. i didnt get the message until i turned of the airplane mode

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Removing the SIM card probably isn’t enough. The IMEI is tied to the actual cellular hardware in your phone. The best option is probably to physically remove the cellular modem, buy a small travel router with a SIM card slot that you can jailbreak to change the IMEI and connect that to your phone over WiFi or cable. That way your phones immutable identifiers aren’t exposed, and you can either dispose of the travel router, or hack it to spoof the IDs.
Found this GitHub repo that explains how to do it. I want to get one of these myself and try it out. Changing the IMEI might be illegal, but if you aren’t stupid no one will find out.


Pretty sure it is everywhere, and since you’re literally broadcasting that information on the air I suspect someone might find out. Regardless of that though, you’ll still run into a second issue which is that your IMSI isn’t randomized, so I doubt using that router is going to be enough to prevent that sort of tracking, unless you plan on switching SIM cards and accounts every time you randomize your IMEI too.

I do still like the idea of using a separate hotspot in general though, because you can power them completely off without losing access to your phone at the same time, but broadcasting a WiFi hotspot everywhere you go is probably another privacy concern. A cable-connected hotspot would be good though.


Don’t think state actors would waste a backdoor for a test notification. I’d not take your observation as a guarantee of anything.

It isn’t but Jonah elaborated why you probably never should provision a SIM for a burner phone and even if you do, you might want to read up on how exposed you might be. For activists in repressive regimes, it is better to stay off of mobile networks. This is because, for years, ITU (International Telecommunication Union) has been in bed with governments world wide (see also: Huawei v USA). This in sharp contrast with IETF (Internet Eng Task Force), which has those UC Berkeley ethos of Anarchism and counter culture.

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I forgot to add that, of course you should only change your IMEI when switching SIM cards. The purpose of changing the IMEI is erasing any conenction between your different SIM cards.
If you just switch SIM cards, and use the same IMEI, it is very easy to connect these two things together. If you want to be anonymous, you need to change both.

You can probably randomize the MAC address on the hotspot, but I also mentioned a cable connection from the hotspot to your phone/mobile device in my previous comment.

I believe that Android is not the correct word. Do you mean custom ROMs based on AOSP? Which one? Lineage, DivestOS, GrapheneOS, or CalyxOS?

Besides, he forget the fact that phone vendors bloat the smartphones with their own data collection schemes and apps on top of Google’s own system unless you are using Pixels whose market share is slim when compared with other brands.

If you are tech savvy person, you will probably use a custom rom, anyway. But, for an average citizen, using stock android without Gplay services and play store is not very feasible. For a protester, it requires a specific threat model. I dont know if you can get a burner sim card in china. You can use a very secure phone, but it will take attentions to you. As @Perk1ns points out, they can arrest you or seize your phone.

Without having enough knowledge, modifying your settings will make more harm than good. You will believe you are anonymous and take actions based on this assumption, but anonymity and privacy are separate things. Dont label everything private as anonymous.

Let us assume you get a phone and sim card without money trail. Then, you need to install apps from a source. While downloading them, you are not anonymous. The first connection for downloading the VPN should also be on a network which cannot be traced back to you. No cameras, no identifiers etc. The moment you install a banking app or similar app with information about your identity, you are already compromised.
Moreover, if three-letter agencies are after you, they have very sophisticated tools such as Pegasus. You dont have any protection against zero-days!

That said, the guy mixed a lot of things in the video and is too obsessed with sideloading, that ends in a distorted picture about the comparison. Do you really need anonymity? What kind of a threat model? Is the collection of some data by Apple really a threat to you? If you have a very high threat model, just sideloding apps or using a VPN will not make you anonymous. It needs a completely different opsec.

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It’s a bit late for a reply, but THO actually interviewed a grapheneOS developer. There’s a reason they use Google phones specifically.


Thanks i wasn’t sure why they are really support pixel but alas its not all or nothing but what did you expect from the Graphene od team

You can compile GrapheneOS for most android devices, if you are willing to do the work yourself.

The official release is focused on the highest level of security, which requires secure hardware and firmware, and the ability you lock the bootloader. This is why there currently isn’t any other supported devices apart from Google Pixel phones.

Building your own version of GrapheneOS for whatever phone you happen to have, probably is going to be are very secure. Using DivestOS is likely to be a much better idea, It does many of the same things and has a wider range of supported devices.

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I know that but i was wondering why no one compiled Graphene os builds for all the remaining Android phones

It’s probably not worth it.

Many other devices are supported by GrapheneOS at a source level, and it can be built for them without modifications to the existing GrapheneOS source tree. Device support repositories for the Android Open Source Project can simply be dropped into the source tree, with at most minor modifications within them to support GrapheneOS. In most cases, substantial work beyond that will be needed to bring the support up to the same standards. For most devices, the hardware and firmware will prevent providing a reasonably secure device, regardless of the work put into device support.