On December 22th it will complete 1 month that I sold my Apple devices (iPhone and Apple Watch Series2) because I was concerned about my privacy and the fact that Apple had control over my devices and therefore, my data, location and so on.
My only viable option would be going back to Android device, and that means, deal with Google, which is ten thousand times worse than Apple in regards of privacy and control over your phone. So, I decided that if I was going to use an Android phone, it had to do NOTHING with Google, so I would be fine.
My first decision was about the device. I did my shenanigans and end up buying a Samsung Galaxy S7 32GB. For me that device was perfect and fine:
Good storage (come on, 32GB);
Storage can be expanded by SD card;
Battery duration (it can last 1 and ½ day, 3000mAh);
It CAN be rooted;
There is an AOSP rom for it (Lineage OS).
There are many tutorials on how to “root” your device and install a boot loader (which is required to install a new operating system, or “rom” as everyone calls (even though “ROM” means read only memory).
I will share my experience doing it with Galaxy S7, so you can try this with your device as well.
1) Get to XDA Forum for your device. In my case, Galaxy S7:
There, spend some time reading the guides and information about your phone. It is very important to read as much as you can (If you are doing this yourself, I would recommend plan this ahead, watch some tutorials, ask for help!).
2) Find a guide to root and install a boot loader in your phone!
3) Find a Lineage OS release to your phone!
Lineage OS is the continuation of the old CyanogenMod (if you have some spare time or interested about the story, check this).
Once you complete the root + boot loader, it is time for installing the Android. You will notice, after the installation, that it is totally pure. There is no Google software at all on it!
But I need banking software, Uber, etc. What can I do?
You can use Yalp Store to get Aps from Google Play, without having or using Google Play at all. You can download Yalp store direct or use the F-Droid store to install and keep it updated (I recommend using F-Droid and installing Yalp later).
Good thing: I could get all Apps I needed without much effort. Yalp does what it promises: It allows you to download the apps and install, it will allow you to update the Apps.
Bad thing: almost all of them required Google Play Services for GSF (Google Services Framework), and we don’t have anything from Google installed, right?
Bad with Google, worse without it.
I tried as much to replace GSF with something that would do the same job, but the Apps are built with GSF and depend on it. So, there is no workaround.
Luckily, you can yet install the minimal version of Google Play (what wait) in your phone, with open GApps, using the “Pico” package: https://github.com/opengapps/opengapps/wiki/Pico-Package. It contains only Google Play and Google Play services, which are required by almost all apps.
I disabled completely Google Play app, and left with the Google Play Services only. I removed all the authorizations it had (you will see only Location enabled, but you can get it disabled by turning off the location services).
Now here is the explanation: you can block all the authorizations that Google Play Services request: they won’t be taking your data, accessing your microphone, contacts, etc. The only exception is the Location, which you have to disable manually in the device (if you don’t need location services at the moment, you can simply disable it).
Control the authorizations over all other Apps you have installed. Don’t let them have any authorization you don’t want. Most of the Apps you are used to do not respect your privacy and freedom of choice. We shouldn’t be obligated to have Google software to run any App that doesn’t belong to Google.
Example of Apps that do not require GSF (and can be downloaded as .apk):
From Yalp, you can get more information from the App you want to install, whether it has Ads, requires GSF, etc:
This is how I got rid of Apple and have the least from Google, on leash, in my device.
Nothing goes on and off without my consent. Nothing will activate my microphone without I accepting it. There is no app hearing whatever I’m talking when I am not explicitly talking on the phone or using its microphone.
If you want some help or need some advice, you can message on Gab.