20 September 2021
NitroKey, a German security-focused company, has launched a modified Pixel 4a model named NitroPhone 1. The model is aimed at those who prioritize security on their phone over any other functionality. It is actually the same phone as the standard Pixel 4a but the only difference is that it does not run Android. The company has replaced the software experience with GrapheneOS, a privacy-focused custom smartphone operating system.
GrapheneOS itself is an Android fork that does not feature any of the Google apps. It means you will not see any Google apps like YouTube, Gmail, Maps, Drive, etc. that you usually see on modern Android smartphones. It does not offer any of the Google Play services either. The good thing is that if a user wants to have access to services, they can do so by installing them as sandboxed apps without special privileges.
There are a few security-focused features to give users peace of mind. One of the features is called Tracking Protection which ensures that apps can't access device IMEI and serial numbers, SIM card serial numbers, subscriber ID, MAC address, etc. There is support for granular network and sensor permissions toggle for each of the apps, per-connection MAC address randomization, and the ability to scramble PIN layout.
The NitroPhone 1 has been priced at EUR 630 (about $750) which is twice the cost of the standard version. The phone is available for purchase through the official NitroKey website. It is worth noting that GrapheneOS is what you need on a Pixel 4a, you can also choose to download and install it manually.