What should I do with my phone?

I got a Google pixel 7 pro but (this wasn’t my choice) it’s locked down through a carrier. I can’t replace it so what should I do with it to make it as private and secure and possible.
I know since it’s Google they are probably collecting a lot right now.

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get it unlocked (in a lot of countries if your contract expires they hand you the unlock code, just use it)

then flash grapheneOS (i think you can do this even on carrier phones but if you’re in the US I think things work a bit differently)

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I’ve never personally used it, and can’t recommend it, but I’ve heard people talk about the “universal android debloater” as an option for people who can’t use custom ROMs. It won’t be as private as a google-free (or nearly Google free) custom ROM, but it will be better than stock. I have heard there is some risk to doing this, its a powerful tool, you don’t want to remove something important by accident, so do your own research and be careful if you go this route.

Beyond that just go through all the settings and disable what you can, and reduce your reliance on Google services, use open source alternatives. Possibly use an application firewall to block network access to apps that don’t need it, use an ad/tracker blocking DNS and a browser with content blocking.

I don’t think I’ll be able to get the unlock code
And do you know anything else about flashing graphene is on a locked device

Set up a NextDNS profile.

I have, I’ve been running nextdns for a while now

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W set up :+1::+1::+1: Nextdns is good

Are you saying the phone is locked to a carrier?

Are you saying your OEM locked?

It’s carrier locked

If your happy with the carrier, say Verizon T-Mobile etc, which ever carrier your locked in to. Then your OK.

Confirm your not OEM locked and if you can OEM unlock install a custom ROM. Opinions are all over.

If you need some assistance confirming your OEM unlocked myself or many others here can help.

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I’m not sure it’s a good idea to flash it on a locked device. Try and get it unlocked and the carrier features disabled.

Read this as well, should explain why you can’t use a carrier locked/carrier variant device. If you’re in the right country, insist that it is your right. Remain persistent.

If there is absolutely no way you can do this, your phone WILL hand over data to Google. If you’re in the EU, click any “reject all” popups that appear, and opt out of any data collection. As Henry has made clear, you can’t trust Google, but this is still probably a better way to go about it than not opting out at all. Disable all collection in your google account and all location services. Delete your advertising ID. Consider not using a Google account at all. Use F-Droid/Neo Store/Aurora Store to get your applications.

Still, privacy begins at the operating system level, and when Google’s rootkit malware (branded as “pLaY sErVicEs”) has unrestricted access to your system, your phone (and privacy) is effectively controlled by Google, not you. The paragraph I wrote outlines some of the things you CAN do, but it’s still going to ping Google’s servers with your personal information and that remains out of your control. Even services like nextDNS won’t be able to fully decide between “good” google traffic and “bad” google traffic.

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What is the issue with carrier locked if you can OEM unlock?

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Yeah, because that’s 100% effective. Google Play services definitely won’t bypass the user-defined DNS to send all of your data to Google.

NextDNS is a good step, but it’s definitely not a solution for the root of the issue: Google spyware services running with elevated privileges on your phone.