To really cut to the chase, GrapheneOS is the most secure and private Android operating system available. It was once not able to support some apps that relied on Google Services, but this has been solved with the introduction of Sandboxed Google Play Services. Now the only thing other operating systems have over Graphene is support for a wider array of devices than the Google Pixel phones.

The Recommendation:
If you have a Google Pixel device, or you want to buy a new phone, go with GrapheneOS. If you have any other type of phone, go with /e/ or LineageOS – you’ll have great privacy and enough security for most people, while keeping your phone out of landfill for a while longer.

The History Of De-Googled Phones

In the past, there was a bit of difference between the various options for operating systems to replace the standard Android from Google. It was a matter of weighing up the pros and cons of each de-Googled operating system, with the user deciding how much convenience and ease of use they could give up for increased security and privacy.

This meant that operating systems like Calyx and /e/ OS, which had a spoofed Google Services called “Micro-G” installed, were more compatible with popular apps. Combined with privacy features that were almost as good as Graphene, there was a compelling reason to choose them. The downside to these other operating systems was the lack of a serious security focus, often meaning they were less secure than even standard Android.

Graphene had gone the opposite direction, prioritising security above all else, offering protection surpassing standard Android from Google so much that many of their changes made it to the main Google Android offering. This came at the cost of compatibility with popular apps, which made it a difficult choice to make. Now that GrapheneOS has implemented an optional Sandboxed Google Services Framework that can be installed with one button and customised to the liking of the user, Graphene has wrestled away the advantage Calyx and /e/ had over it.

De-Googled Phones in 2024

Now users no longer have to compromise to enjoy the greatest security and privacy benefits on Android. Graphene’s implementation of the sandboxed Google Services allows the user to install Google Services from the Graphene App Store, and like every other app installed on Graphene, it has no access to any permissions beyond what the user gives it. You can have the most secure Android operating system and be able to use any app that depends on Google Services, all while maintaining your privacy.

The main drawback is that GrapheneOS only runs on Google Pixel phones, which have been targeted due to their particularly strong hardware security. This also enabled the developers to maintain a very high quality product by focusing on support for less devices, which would take time and energy away from core features. If you have any other phone, it’s worth trying /e/OS or LineageOS, which are both fantastic operating systems with good privacy and security, and you’ll keep your device from becoming e-waste for a while longer.