Devices from Apple, Google, and Samsung are some of the most-used phones in the world. While each has its own security features, there are better options for the privacy and security conscious. The most secure phones come from some lesser-known manufacturers but include features like built-in crypto wallets, custom VPNs, and physical kill switches. Here are our top 5 of the most secure smartphones:
- Silent Circle Blackphone PRIVY 2.0 – Top-level security
- Sirin Labs Finney U1 – Best for crypto users
- Bittium Tough Mobile C – Best for private key management
- Purism Librem 5 – Best for maximum security
- Sirin Solarin – Best for preventing incoming threats
If you’re looking for the best mobile VPN for iPhones or the best mobile VPN for Android, we’ve covered that too. ExpressVPN is an excellent VPN for iPhones, while Surfshark is our winning VPN for Android.
Which manufacturer do you think of when you think about the best smartphones? Like anyone, your mind probably wanders to Apple, Google, and Samsung. But what about the most secure smartphones? The best smartphones for privacy and security in 2022 come from lesser-known manufacturers. Companies like Google and Apple record tons of data, so they aren’t very “privacy-centric.”
In this article, we’ve rounded up the five most secure smartphones that’ll look after your privacy and security, whether you’re calling, texting, or browsing.
The Best Smartphones for Privacy and Security: Comparison Table
Here’s a brief overview of the 5 best smartphones for privacy and security, and how they look side by side. Below, you’ll find a table comparing each phone’s key features. There’s more information on each phone further down in this article.
|Secure Smartphone||1. Silent Circle Blackphone PRIVY||2. Sirin Labs Finney U1||3. Bittium Tough Mobile 2 C||4. Purism Librem 5||5. Sirin Solarin|
|Operating System||Modified Android||Proprietary OS called “Sirin OS”||Modified Android 9 (Pie)||“PureOS”, adapted from Linux||Modified Android|
|Encryption||ZRTP protocol offers 256-bit encryption.||Encrypted email, VoIP, and text.||Built-in encryption and authentication software||Not specified||256-bit AES encryption|
|Other Security Features|
|Additional USPs||Multi IMSI SIM card with unlimited global mobile data||Cold storage crypto wallet||Built-in, custom VPN||3 physical kill switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and video and audio||Physical kill switch|
|Where to buy|
The 5 Most Secure Smartphones
While the biggest smartphone manufacturers build security features into their software, cybersecurity threats and other privacy risks are always growing. That’s why the most secure phones aren’t necessarily ones you’d expect, like the Apple iPhone or Google Pixel (though both of these are good, secure smartphones). Other manufacturers like Silent Circle and Sirin have released some of the most secure smartphones available right now. Below, you’ll find our roundup of the five most secure smartphones.
1. Silent Circle Blackphone PRIVY 2.0: Our most secure smartphone
The Blackphone Privy guarantees a completely secure and private experience right out of the box. Running on a heavily modified version of the Android OS (operating system), our most secure phone offers encrypted phone calls, video chats, and text messages by default. You can even send files of up to 100MB to any contact who’s downloaded the separate Silent Phone application, even if they have a different device! Your PRIVY is preloaded with bespoke applications for secure communications and file storage, called PRIVY Chat and PRIVY Vault. Each of the apps safeguards data using end-to-end encryption and encrypted databases. The Silent Circle Blackphone PRIVY 2.0 starts from £650.
In-house developed encryption software
Now, let’s talk more about that encryption, as this is pretty impressive stuff. The PRIVY uses ZRTP (Zimmermann Real-time Transport Protocol), which was created by the company’s founder, Phil Zimmermann. Using peer-to-peer key management and 256-bit encryption, it’s widely recognized as the world’s most secure telephony standard.
And that’s not all. Thanks to PRIVY’s modified operating system, you’ve got much more control over your privacy than Google would afford you, for example. You can tinker with pretty much any permission setting in each application, and all applications are stored in separate clusters. Data is encrypted between each individual application and the server. The PRIVY also uses a verified boot sequence, active device monitoring with an auto-delete feature in case of theft, and triple password protection across the device itself, your storage, and each secure app.
Like the best VPNs, Silent Circle promises no data logging for calls and messages initiated or received by the PRIVY. In fact, the company’s very hands-off about everything that you do with your PRIVY – not even Silent Circle can decrypt your traffic. Just bear in mind that it’s a paid feature after an initial, one-year free trial.
2. Sirin Labs Finney U1: The most secure smartphone for cryptocurrency users
You might not have heard about the Finney U1, but it’s one of the most secure smartphones on this list. It runs on the company’s proprietary operating system (OS) called “Sirin OS”, which is well-reviewed for its security and DApps (decentralized apps). These are applications running on a P2P (peer-to-peer) network or blockchain and not owned by any single authority. Whereas official apps from the likes of Apple, Google, and Microsoft capture and store certain data for other uses, DApps offer much more privacy. The Finney U1 retails for $999.
A great smartphone for crypto users
This device also comes with a built-in cold storage crypto wallet, which is ideal for those dabbling in currencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. It won’t support all cryptocurrencies at present, but the most popular ones like BTC and ETH are supported. Not to mention, there’s a physical protection switch built into the handset, which offers even greater crypto wallet security. In terms of security, you’re also looking at three-factor authentication, a native cryptocurrency conversion center, and secured, unmonitored VoIP, email, and text messaging features.
Unfortunately, other security features are somewhat lacking in comparison to Silent Circle’s most secure smartphone. For example, it can’t offer the same kind of powerful encryption used by our number one pick. That’s why our most secure smartphone is still the Silent Circle Blackphone PRIVY 2.0.
3. Bittium Tough Mobile 2C: The most secure smartphone for key management
Straight out of Finland, the Bittium Tough Mobile 2 has powerful, built-in authentication, encryption, and key management software. It’s running an operating system that takes some creative liberties from Android 9 (Pie), but these features make it unique. They’re supplemented by a privacy mode, native security checks throughout the boot cycle, and a private VPN called Bittium SafeMove. The Bittium Tough Mobile 2C costs £1,325.
The phone itself isn’t a bad-looking piece of kit either. Boasting a design that’s eerily similar to modern iPhones – ironic, given the OS! – this smartphone has a built-in backup battery and a tamper-proof casing too. Should an unwanted intruder try to break into your phone, it’ll self-destruct (the data, that is).
Super-secure, physical kill switch
There’s a physical button that puts the device into privacy mode, which means your audio, video, and Bluetooth are all disabled. This should offer the security-conscious some peace of mind when having private conversations. You’ve also got key management software and advanced security checks at boot and runtime. But what’s more, the internal software and OS are segmented away from any third-party apps you choose to install. This is a critical design feature to see in a phone that promises to be one of the most secure smartphones.
4. Purism Librem 5: The most secure smartphone for instant security
The Librem 5’s beauty is in its design; with the cellular modem and main CPU and memory separated, your data is completely severed from your carrier’s firmware and cellular towers. Elsewhere, there are some pretty unique design features at work. On the side of the Librem 5, you’ve got three physical kill switches. With these, you can disable mobile data, Wi-Fi, and your camera and microphone in an instant. Activate all three, and you’ll disable GPS tracking. The Librem 5 starts from $799.
The Librem 5 runs on Purism’s PureOS software – adapted from Linux – which is an open-source operating system. There’s also a built-in, secure VPN, not to mention a lot of control around what each application on your phone can access. You can control how your data is transferred within the phone, isolating applications from each other. Location services are automatically disabled from the offset, letting you choose what information is shared between apps.
Get software updates, forever
Companies like Apple and Google will normally only support a phone with updates for two to three years. Purism, on the other hand, has committed to providing “lifetime” software updates. It’s a bold promise, but one that should reassure the most safety-conscious user if it is maintained, as it means you should get updates for any newly discovered exploits.
With all of the above in mind, it’s hard to ignore that there have been some disappointed early adopters. Key pieces of software – including camera software and the ability to use the phone as a PC – have been reported as missing or lacking in features. While the company promises lifetime updates, you should do your research as well. However, we couldn’t omit the Purism Librem from our list given the impressive list of security features out of the box.
5. Sirin Solarin: The most secure smartphone for threat prevention
Running under the hood of the Sirin Solarin is a modified version of Android. Now, Android isn’t without its security issues, but there’s an additional piece of software that should alleviate any concerns. It’s accompanied by 256-bit encryption, which is not only used by the best VPNs but also militaries and governments across the world! It costs a whopping $16,666!
When you’re using the phone, you benefit from dedicated threat prevention software from Zimperium, a privately owned mobile security company in the U.S. With this software securing your smartphone, all of your calls and texts will be encrypted. This feature can be enabled or disabled.
As a side note, this secure smartphone has some weight to it, at around 243 grams. For comparison, the iPhone 13 weighs 204 grams. It’s also around 11.1mm in width, which is pretty much 1.5x thicker than the latest iPhone models.
Our Most Secure Smartphones: Notable Mentions
While the above phones are some of the most secure smartphones, that’s not to say that other leading phones are insecure. Below, we’ve listed a couple of notable mentions, along with some caveats around security.
When it comes to security, Apple has an edge over Android in terms of the security of iPhone apps. The Apple App Store has stringent controls around what apps make the cut. While this means fewer creative freedoms for developers, it also means that you’re incredibly unlikely to download a malware-infested application. Apple also takes the lead from a manufacturing point of view – thanks to closely integrated software and hardware – in addition to software-based protection and an easier vulnerability patching process.
Your iPhone has the usual security features you’d expect, including biometric authentication, a built-in two-factor authentication tool, and manual VPN configurations.
While some Android mobile devices and even apps have been known to have security issues, Google’s getting serious about security on the Pixel lineup. Google’s vast network of control means that vulnerabilities are patched very quickly. The newest Pixel phones come with the latest, most secure versions of Android, though the same isn’t always true for Samsung. This is because third-party Android manufacturers like Samsung have to wait longer for new Android updates. This means waiting longer for vulnerabilities to be patched on non-Google Android phones.
In terms of security, Pixel phones boast the usual security features you’d expect. These include the same security chip used by Google Cloud data centers, isolated authentication methods, and Pixel Intelligence, an on-device machine learning and AI security tool.
Use a VPN For Enhanced Security
Understandably, not everybody can afford one of these most secure smartphones. Or, perhaps you just don’t want to part with your cash when some of the price tags are so high. They are also not readily available. Not to worry, as you can still improve your online security by using a VPN on your smartphone or tablet. What’s more, with a premium VPN, you’ll be able to use your VPN on both your mobile device and computer. Some even let you connect unlimited devices under a single subscription!
With a VPN, you can surf the internet and connect with your friends and family with greater privacy and security. You’ll have greater anonymity online thanks to changing your IP address too. When you connect to a VPN server, your IP address – which can be used to track you – is replaced with the IP of the VPN server. Aside from cloaking your identity, this has other benefits; for example, you can bypass content blocks online.
With the most secure smartphones, you’ll typically have a custom VPN built into the software. That’s certainly the case with most of the phones above. If so, check out the user guides that come with the device to set up your VPN. But what if you decide to go for the Apple iPhone or Google Pixel? Follow our guide below on how to use a VPN on your phone.
How to use a VPN on your Android phone: a quick guide
There are a few ways to install a VPN onto an Android device. Your easiest solution is to find a VPN on the Google Play Store.
- First, decide which VPN you’d like to use and subscribe to it. Our best mobile VPN for Android right now is Surfshark. They offer excellent speeds, and you can get a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’d like to learn more about Surfshark, you can read our detailed Surfshark review here.
- Once you’ve subscribed and created a new account, download Surfshark from the Play Store.
- Run the application and log in.
- Decide which server you’d like to use. If you’re just using the VPN for security and anonymity, this isn’t too important (though some are faster than others). If, however, you’re trying to watch American Netflix for example, or unblock some other foreign website, choose a VPN server in the relevant country.
- Hit the connect button to start your VPN connection. Now, you can tab out of that application, and your VPN will continue running in the background.
You’ll find more information on Android VPNs in our best VPN for Android article. If you want a more detailed guide on how to install a VPN on Android, check out our step-by-step installation guide here.
- Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
- 30-day money-back guarantee. No questions asked!
- Cheap with many extra options
How to use a VPN on your iPhone or iPad: a quick guide
In our opinion, the best mobile VPN for iPhone and iPad right now is ExpressVPN. Here’s a quick guide to setting up a VPN on an iPhone using an application:
- Go to ExpressVPN’s website and create a VPN account. Or, check out the link below for more of the best VPNs for iOS.
- Open the Apple App Store on your device and download the VPN app for your chosen service.
- Log into your new VPN account via the app.
- Change any settings as you see fit (this will vary from one provider’s app to the next), and decide which VPN server you’d like to connect to. If you want to unblock American websites for example, then you should connect to a U.S. VPN.
- Connect to the VPN and you’ll automatically change your IP address. Now, you’re browsing with greater security and anonymity. You’ll see a VPN icon appear in the upper-right of your iPhone’s screen.
For more information and advice, check out our article on setting up a VPN on your iPhone or iPad (iOS). This article also tells you how to install a VPN on your iPad. It also shows you how to install a VPN on iOS without an application, manually.
You can also read more on the best VPNs for iPhone and iPad right here, including ExpressVPN.
- Very easy to use VPN
- Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
- 3000+ servers in 94 countries
If you’re looking for the most secure smartphones, then you might want to consider thinking outside of the box. Most people turn to Apple, Google, or Samsung for their latest handset. However, some of the most secure phones are manufactured by the likes of Solarin, Sirin Labs, and Bittium. Our most secure smartphone is the Silent Circle Blackphone PRIVY 2.0, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Got more questions about our list of the most secure smartphones? Check out our frequently asked questions below.
These are some of the most secure smartphones you’ll find on the market right now.
- Silent Circle Blackphone 2
- Sirin Labs Finney U1
- Bittium Tough Mobile C
- Purism Librem 5
- Sirin Solarin
Security on Apple’s, Google’s, and Samsung’s products is good for your average consumer. But where the five most secure smartphones excel is in the provision of advanced features, including built-in cryptocurrency wallets and custom VPNs. There’s more information in our full article on secure smartphones.
Our best VPN for iPhone is ExpressVPN. Even on mobile, you’ll get fast and reliable connections speeds. Also, ExpressVPN offers three months for free on a yearly subscription. For more information about ExpressVPN and using a VPN on an iPhone, take a look at our article on setting up a VPN on your iPhone or iPad (iOS). You’ll find a step-by-step guide for setting up an iPhone VPN with an app or manually in the Settings menu.
Our best VPN for Android devices is Surfshark. Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for new subscribers, and you can download the Surfshark app from the Google Play Store. If you need more information and step-by-step guides for installing a VPN on Android, check out our Install a VPN on Android article.
iPhone owners are 192x more likely to be targeted by hackers than other brands, according to a study by Case24. That said, take these figures with a pinch of salt. The data was based on monthly Google search queries that involved people looking for information on how to hack each different type of phone.
Apple iPhones are generally considered more secure and “hack-proof” than other devices. Still, even the best hardware and software can’t stop you from falling victim to phishing scams or malware if you’re not using a VPN and being careful about what you share online.