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Smartphones have the options to selectively disable tracking in the settings menu. By visiting this menu, you can manually disable each application from having permission to access your private data like location.

However, all applications that come from Google are immune to such treatment and still continue to collect your data regardless of your choice, since Android -- the operating system itself -- comes from Google and gives its own applications special privileges on the OS level, which overrides user's choice.

How can an Android-based smartphone be de-googled, or in other terms, have the Google's intrusive data collecting disabled?

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  • If your privacy is important to you, then you might want to consider avoiding the use of products and services produced by a company whose business model relies on collecting vast amounts of information on its users, and monetizing this information.
    – mti2935
    Commented Apr 21, 2022 at 0:44
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    @mti2935 Depending on circumstances, that is a good suggestion. However, the problem is that the smartphone OS market has been effectively monopolized by 2 big players: Google's Android and Apple's iOS. The latter has the exact same problem as the former that I described in my post. I'm interested in potential solutions.
    – user276955
    Commented Apr 21, 2022 at 0:56

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The question is profoundly non-trivial, mainly because of the vast amount of program code in Android and not all of it being open source.

Android consist of few layers and the data collection is embedded in all of them, almost down to the Linux kernel (and some of it even embedded in the internal device drivers, e.g. wifi or cell modem).

If you want an absolutely de-googled Android, see Replicant OS.

Warning: rough UI, only pretty old smartphones and tablets supported (for a reason), some internal devices have quirks.

A more user-friendly choice that is usable daily, not focused on weeding out all the data collecting code, but offered without the "google services" in its default install - Lineage OS. Still limited, but a whole lot better device support. Some modern devices available.

Both of these suffer from the next big problem - a lot of the usual Android apps are profoundly dependent on Google services.

A lot of popular apps have their own data collecting anti-features because this became a popular business model in the smart device market.

If you are interested in apps adhering to somewhat higher user privacy standards, see the f-droid repository. Even there, not all apps are created equal, but at least the anti-features of the apps are explicitly listed. Don't expect the Google Play torrent of apps either.

Apps that don't depend on Google Services do exist for most general phone/tablet tasks, but are much less popular. This is especially important in regard to social networks and messaging.

Good luck finding your own level of compromise.

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  • Mentioning Calyx OS and Graphene OS would be smart as well. They're both privacy-focused and basically your only concern would be baked in hardware spyware (for example in the CPU or security chip) Commented Apr 23, 2022 at 18:36
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However, all applications that come from Google are immune to such treatment and still continue to collect your data regardless of your choice, since Android -- the operating system itself -- comes from Google and gives its own applications special privileges on the OS level, which overrides user's choice.

How can an Android-based smartphone be de-googled, or in other terms, have the Google's intrusive data collecting disabled?

You are not going to win a fight against the operating system.

Likely the only effective way to de-google yourself would be to stop using google products.

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