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What Sage Phone does is remove the existing software (ROM) on the phone and install a completely new ROM focused on privacy and security.

This new software is based on GrapheneOS and, in the case of the Privacy Edition, features several Open Source apps that replace the functionality of standard apps from Google (GAPPS) and (possibly) the phone manufacturer. Think mail, calendar, messages, navigation, camera, etc.

All apps run in a sandbox to prevent tracking. The apps from the regular store may contain tracking that is not 100% catchable, but that is also warned about.

The phone comes with a user manual that tells you how to set up, use and install apps. Also, you will find all kinds of useful privacy tips there.

Yes and no. Your phone no longer sends information about your activities and location on its own to the big tech companies, but with a SIM card, your phone is still signed on to a cellular network. For the mobile operator and therefore the competent authorities, you are still traceable based on that connection.

The main goal of Sage Phone is to maintain your privacy.

To make yourself completely invisible, you can activate airplane mode or remove the SIM card. You can then turn on the WiFi only when needed.

Calling could then be done via Signal over a VPN connection to minimize traceability.

You can use built-in Vanadium browser to browse the Internet safely. For added security and anonymity, a Tor browser is also installed.

Yes and no. Since there are no more Google or manufacturer specific apps on the phone you will use a different app for familiar functions like mail, calendar, camera, etc. that work slightly differently than the apps that you are used to.

Sage Phone has done its best to pick the best version of Android and Open Source apps with privacy in mind.

Regular apps that rely heavily on Google Services can be difficult, but experience now shows that alternatives or workarounds are often possible and about 90% work as you are used to.

The GrapheneOS operating system automatically pulls in all the latest updates to keep security and compatibility as high as possible.

For the installed apps, you will have to regularly check the corresponding app stores (F-droid / Aurora Store).

As for battery life, we don’t have numbers, but it is significantly better than with the original software passing everything 24/7.

Things that affect battery life is light/dark theme, screen brightness, amount of syncing accounts, extra secure connections, etc.

With the advent of the (much requested) automatic updates, battery life has dropped a bit, but we have a Pixel 5 in use here and it really does last for days.

Because the Sage Phone software does not compromise the integrity of the phone, the manufacturer’s warranty remains intact.

No hardware modifications are required, nor does the phone need to be“rooted.

After software installation, the bootloader is locked, so the data is erased if tampered with. You do get a notification that a different OS is loaded than original.

The support for using the phone is with us.

There is no such thing as THE official Snowden Smartphone, but there are several products on the market that make a smartphone following Edward Snowden’s guidelines. Sage Phone is an example of this.

Edward Snowden recommends getting an Android device with GrapheneOS, a Tor browser and unsoldering your microphone and camera. Because the last two steps prevent you from calling, taking pictures or appealing the warranty, few people do this. So neither do we.

The Snowden Edition is the purest variant we provide and, in addition to GrapheneOS, contains only an Open Source app store(F-droid) and a pre-installed tor browser.

The Privacy Edition has the same secure base, but there we added additional apps to make it a real smartphone as well, without infringing on privacy. Consider a mail and calendar app, as well as an alternative app store(Aurora Store) to anonymously install regular apps (banking, Netflix, ed.) from the Play Store.

Although the Snowden phone will initially be delivered clean and pure, the alternative app store and regular apps can be added later should it disappoint. Conversely, you can also remove the additional apps from the Privacy phone.

For the camera and microphone, a (software-based) on/off button has been added to the quick menu.

How this all works is described in the manual you receive after ordering a device or the software.

This list of devices currently supported:

  • Google Pixel 8, 8a, 8 Pro
  • Google Pixel 7, 7a, 7 Pro
  • Google Pixel 6, 6a, 6 Pro
  • Google Pixel 5, a, 5 (5G)
  • Google Pixel 4a, 4a (5G)

Omdate Sage Phone (v2) is based on GrapheneOS, only Google Pixel devices are now supported. So no Samsung, Motorola, Fairphone, iPhone, etc.

Yes, you can choose to purchase just the software installation and send in your own Google Pixel device. Check the software installation page to see if your device is supported and what the conditions are.

In theory, any Android-based phone can be stripped of Google and manufacturer software layers, but because the new Android base (ROM) must be developed specifically for each device, this is not cost-effective to offer.

Partly for this reason, Sage Phone has chosen to work with GrapheneOS from v2 onward, which is available exclusively for the Google Pixel phones.

Unfortunately, iOS, the operating system that runs on Apple phones, is not open-source and thus cannot be stripped of the tracking contained therein.

Apple says they consider privacy very important and will be even stricter about it toward Facebook and Google in the latest version of their software, but anyone reading between the lines will see that this does not apply to the information they themselves “collect anonymously to improve their products.

The only other option to escape the clutches of Big-Tech is to get a Linux-based phone. But this is still far behind the developments and requires the necessary technical knowledge.

You can just install regular apps. Even those of parties you don’t really want to have anything to do with. It’s not that you then immediately destroy the privacy of the entire phone.

All apps run in a so-called sandbox. This ensures that tracking and requests to third parties are blocked.

The thing is that the data (message content and meta information) sent by the app will go through the servers of the relevant party (for WhatsApp, this is Meta), so they will always have access to that.

The rest of the phone then just remains protected and safe, and you can simply remove the app from it later without further consequences.