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Frequently Asked Questions

Products & Services

Assuming an iPhone is secure or private requires blind trust in Apple. Why? iOS is Apple's proprietary closed-source software. There is no way to independently verify what Apple does with your data.

Apple is known to spy on its users and there are ample reasons why Apple cannot be trusted. Richard Stallman has recorded many reasons. Here are eight more obvious reasons.

Our smartphones don't eavesdrop on your conversations. They don't spy on you. They don't report your location to Apple or Google.

Each phone runs a modified version of Android that is specifically designed for privacy and security. The core system is Android Open Source Project (AOSP), which is auditable and verifiable. The Google proprietary spyware is removed and layers of encryption and privacy-respecting applications are added.

By removing Google from the equation, the benefits are immediate:

  • No google account required - You become anonymous
  • No more data collection - Your personal activities remain private
  • No surveillance - Location tracking (contact tracing) is removed

Yes. Simply transfer your existing SIM card from your current phone to the privacy phone.  For most carriers, that's all you have to do.  In rare cases, you may need to provide the privacy phone's IMEI number to your carrier.  Depending on carrier requirements, this can be done through your online account or by contacting their customer service.

Yes, you can to transfer personal information from your old phone. Depending on what you want to transfer (contacts, calendars, bookmarks, reminders, photos, etc) and which platform you're coming from (iPhone or Android) will determine how involved it will be.

If you're coming from an iPhone, follow our guide Transferring personal data from an iPhone.

CalyxOS and GrapheneOS offer straight-forward installation instructions.  If you're comfortable using a computer, especially on the command line, then you may want to try it.

LineageOS on the other hand requires a bit more patience to get up and running.  We recommend you have adequate command line experience on a Linux computer before attempting their installation.

When everything goes right, installing a custom OS can seem pretty simple.  However, if something goes wrong, the last thing you want is to "brick" your phone.

Contact us and we'll be glad to de-google your Android device for you.

Every version of the de-googled Pixel we sell is SIM-unlocked and works on every major carrier in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Our phones will also work with MVNOs (Cricket, Mint, Ting, Tello) because they also use the major carriers' network.

Read our article, Choosing a Mobile Phone Carrier, to see which carrier we recommend and why.

If your phone model is supported we can de-google it. Contact us and we'll give you a quote.

Google Pixel 2 or newer
List of supported devices
Google Pixel 3 or newer
List of supported devices

Removing Google apps means, no Google Play Store.  However, there are multiple ways to install apps:

F-Droid: The best place to find apps is on F-Droid, a repository that curates privacy-friendly open-source apps.

Aurora Store: If you cannot find the solution on F-Droid, the next step is to install Aurora Store, an open source app that lets you connect to Google Play Store and download anonymously. The Aurora Store app is available to download from F-Droid.

APKMirror & APKpure: Another less common but effective approach to installing apps is by downloading them from websites like APKMirror and APKpure. These sites have been proven to be safe sources.  They are especially useful when you need an older version of an app.

Direct Download: Finally, not all apps have to be installed using a repository like F-Droid or Aurora Store.  There are many excellent apps available for download from their developer's website.  Just search for a "download APK" link.

Note: If the app you installed complains about not being connected to Google Play Store, ask yourself "Do I honestly need this app?" If the answer is No, delete it. If the answer is Yes, then you'll have to use microG, a Google Play Store signature spoofer.  microG is optional on CalyxOS and LineageOS, and not available on GrapheneOS.

CalyxOS is an obvious choice if this is your first de-googled experience. It is user-friendly and comes with a suite of open-source apps. However, if security is your number one priority then GrapheneOS is a great choice.  They provide added layers of encryption for those that need it. DivestOS is ideal if you want to run Android 12 on a Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

The great thing about LineageOS is it supports a broad range of older Android phones and tablets. Check out their list of supported devices.  If yours is listed, and you prefer keeping your current device, we can de-google it.

See our guide, Choosing Your Operating System, for an in-depth discussion.

While it is ironic, the Pixel phone is the most customizable smartphone and can safely be modified.

The Pixel hardware team actually encourages 3rd party software development.  Pixel phones allow bootloader unlocking by design (with the exception of Pixels from Verizon).  Additionally, Pixels support installation of custom firmware signing keys. That's how CalyxOS and GrapheneOS are able to run with a locked bootloader.

We have developed trusted relationships with a handful of electronics wholesalers that specialize in aftermarket digital devices. Every Android device is certified with PhoneCheck, the industry-leading certification solution. Our customized laptops and desktop computers are also thoroughly tested to ensure quality and reliability.

All of the operating systems we install are open source. This means the source code is auditable and can be checked for ethical practices. Also most of the software in the OS are community supported projects.  Rather than being dependent on Silicon Valley investors and corporations, open source software communities are typically egalitarian in nature. It is also efficient, reliable and mature, having been refined by many programmers through iterative development cycles.

It depends.  Don't you love that answer?

  • Apps made by Google or any other Big Tech corporation should be avoided due to their abusive practices
  • Maybe your favorite app is open source and respects your privacy already.  You can probably find it on F-Droid
  • If it is a paid app, use Aurora Store to install it; however we recommend looking for a free and open source alternative
  • For apps on which you transact payments (Uber, banking, etc), they will probably complain if they cannot connect to Google Play Store; in that case you'll need to use microG, a Google Play Store signature spoofer

To get new ideas for your favorite apps, see our top picks for best privacy-friendly Android apps.

A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a wireless communications provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers. An MVNO enters into a business agreement with a mobile network operator (major carrier) to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, then sets retail prices independently.

The best MVNOs have specific advantages over major carriers.

  • Expect to save a lot - we've seen plans as low as $5 USD/mo and $35 USD/mo for unlimited data
  • No contracts - most MVNOs we work with don't require contracts. Ever.
  • Better customer service - generally speaking, you talk to a human; not the run-around with a machine
  • Less invasive - they don't try to sink their claws in you like the major carriers do

For more recommendations and discussion, see our articles about cellular carriers on the blog.

Since the Pixel phones operate on the GSM network, they will most likely work with other global carriers.  Use this Frequency Checker to verify which phones work in your country. Input your country and the make and model of the phone.

Account & Payments

You are welcome to checkout as our guest. By creating an account you have access to order history, wish lists, downloads, promotions and much more.

We accept the following payment types in US Dollars:

  • PayPal
  • Debit and credit card (online checkout or phone orders)
  • Check or money order (US customers only)
  • Cash App (US customers only)

Cryptocurrency is accepted and preferred. Pay quickly and easily through our secure payment gateway:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Monero (XMR)
  • TrueUSD (TUSD)
  • USD Coin (USDC)
  • Tether (USDT)

For local in-person purchases, we also accept gold, silver, and trades (case-by-case basis).

Updating your account information can be done from your online account.

  1. Login to your account and go to "My Account"
  2. Select the "Edit your account information" option
  3. Enter new information in the text fields provided
  4. After you update the information, click "Continue"

Yes, our website is secured by Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for online transactions. SSL is an encryption-based internet security protocol that provides privacy, authentication, and integrity to Internet communications. SSL has evolved into Transport Layer Security or TLS as it is known today.  A website that implements SSL/TLS has "HTTPS" in its URL instead of HTTP. 

Also, we use precautions to keep the personal information you disclose both in your browsing and your purchases, and never release this information to third parties. Read our Privacy Policy to learn more.

On the login page click Forgotten Password. Enter the email address registered in your account and click Continue.
You will receive a link in your email inbox. Click the link to change your password. If you cannot remember the email address registered in your account, please contact us.

Yes, our products and services are subject to certain Terms and Conditions.  Once you make a purchase, you've agreed to them.

Simply contact us and we will remove your account and personal information from our database.  We'll need to know your name or email address in order to identify the account.

Delivery & Returns

We typically use United States Postal Service.  For larger packages, we may use UPS ground.

Shipping charge is calculated automatically at checkout based on the total weight of your order.  You'll likely save shipping cost for ordering multiple items at a time.

We process and ship your order within 48 hours.  Shipping time depends on the carrier.

If you created an account before placing an order you can log into your account and check order status

  1. Go to My Account
  2. Select My Orders
  3. Select View your order history
  4. If the order status says "Pending" or "Processing", your item(s) have not yet be shipped
Once we ship your item(s), the status will change to "shipped".  You will receive an email with the USPS or UPS tracking number.  From there you can enter the tracking number at the carriers' website to find delivery status.
  1. Check the tracking number at USPS or UPS (where applicable) for your package delivery date
  2. If the package is reported as "delivered" by the carrier and you have still not received it, please check with family members or housemates to see if they may have picked up the package on your behalf
  3. Also check with neighbors to see if the package was delivered to their address by mistake
  4. Finally, if you are still unable to locate the package, please contact us with the order number
We offer no-hassle 30-day returns.  For full details, check out our return policy.

Fill out the online Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) Request to get the process started. Make sure you have the Order ID number (check your paper receipt or Order History in your online account). Contact us if you need help.

We will issue a refund for the returned item as soon as we verify its condition. This may take up to 5 business days from the time we receive it. Alternatively you can request a replacement device, equivalent brand & model, instead of a refund.

Contact us and we'll determine if we can ship to your location.  There is also a possibility we can refer you to a privacy phone vendor in your country.

Technical Questions

Voicemail setup is determined by your carrier. 

Visual Voicemail - Most carriers support "visual voicemail" on an Android device. Open the phone dialer app. At the bottom right menu, tap Voicemail. If you have a voicemail message pending, you'll see it in a list and can tap on the triangle "play" button. If there are no voicemails pending, a message will say Your voicemail inbox is empty.

Dial your phone number - Most carriers allow access to voicemail by dialing your own phone number, then follow the prompts.

But to be sure, contact your carrier's support center.

We do not install TWRP on any of the devices. 

The only exception would be if we were to install LineageOS and the installation required TWRP rather than a LineageOS recovery image. Neither GrapheneOS or CalyxOS leave anything in the recovery partition. 

Our devices are generally set up for users that don't tinker with their phones and just want a reliable experience. But... If you're interested in TWRP for rooting and/or sideloading apps or custom ROMs, we can help you find a good phone and OS for that purpose.

In most cases, moving the SIM card to the new privacy phone and rebooting the device is all you have to do.  In rare cases, you'll need to notify your carrier that you're using a new phone by giving them the IMEI number.

On an Android device, the IMEI number is found in Settings > About phone > IMEI

In addition to receiving your device's IMEI, the carrier will load Access Point Numbers (APNs) into the device. This may need to be done manually. Either way, contact your carrier for help.

Because of the way ProtonMail encrypts email locally before sending, you'll need to use their app and not a 3rd-party email client like K-9 Mail. The ProtonMail app can be downloaded and installed from Aurora Store.

See this article for more information on ProtonMail on Android devices.

The problem has to do with messages from other iPhone users being exclusively synced in iCloud to your Apple ID instead of your phone number. That's how Apple texting works... texts between iPhone users are sent through iMessage, not standard SMS/MMS texts. So if you continue to get text messages from iPhone users in the Messages app on your Mac and not on your new privacy phone, the solution is to disable iMessage syncing in iCloud.

To turn Messages in iCloud off on your Mac, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Messages on your Mac
  2. Select the Messages menu in the top left corner
  3. Tap on Preferences from the menu
  4. Click iMessage
  5. Unselect the box next to Enable Messages in iCloud

All texts will now be sent to your privacy phone and not to Messages app.

Background: In rare instances, when installing Signal app from F-Droid, the app complains about not being able to connect to a network. We're assuming at some point in time the version hosted by F-Droid was dependent on Google Play services for notifications. When using a privacy phone without Google Play services, messaging apps like Signal have to stay on in the background and provide notifications independent of Google Play services.

This may have been corrected on F-Droid, but in case you have this problem, follow the steps below. If you don't use Chromium, do the same for the browser of your choice.

  1. Open Settings app > Apps > See all xx apps > Chromium
  2. Scroll down to Install unknown apps and enable Allow from this source
  3. Open Chromium app and navigate to
  4. Scroll down to "Danger Zone" for advanced users. Tap the Download button
  5. If asked where to download the file, the default location (Downloads folder) is fine
  6. If you receive a warning message that says "File might be harmful" or "downloading from this source could be dangerous", tap Download Anyway
  7. Once the file is downloaded, you should receive a message saying the download is complete. tap Open
  8. When asked "Do you want to install this app?" tap Install
  9. A message appears "App Installed", tap Open.

You can now setup Signal app normally