New Phone Offers Physical Privacy Switches

John Lister's picture

A proposed new smartphone would include two physical switches to control privacy. The Murena 2 would run Android apps, but use its own operating system.

The makers have reached a (very low) funding goal on the Kickstarter site with around 450 sales at the time of writing. That theoretically means the project can go ahead, though without any legal guarantee it will do so.

The main selling point of the phone is a privacy-focused design, which the makers say is to tackle data being collected on Android and iPhones even when the owner isn't actively using the handset.

The most eye-catching part of the design is two physical switches. One will physically disconnect the camera and microphone so that phone itself can't access any data from them.

The other simply activates an airplane mode and mutes the phone, meaning it has no external connections such as data, phone signal or WiFi.

"DeGoogled" System

The phone would use an open-source operating system called "e/OS." It appears to be in some way related to Android as the makers describe it as "deGoogled." (Source:

The phone would also be able to install and run Android apps, complete with notes on their privacy settings. Some apps would not run properly with the privacy switches activated, though part of the project may be highlighting when that happens unexpectedly.

The operating system would also include a range of quick-access tools for privacy such as disguising an IP address, charting trackers used by apps, and faking a location with a built-in VPN. There would also be a single dashboard for privacy settings.

Delivery Not Guaranteed

Currently, the Murena One is already available with e/OS and the privacy tools, but without the privacy settings touted in this article. The specs include 8GB of RAM, 128GB storage and a full-HD display. (Source:

The plan is to put the handset on general sale at €499 (approx $529), with reductions to €449 or €399 for Kickstarter backers depending how early they sign up. However, that's still a big commitment given Kickstarter projects may be delayed or products not shipped, with little or any guarantees. Technically speaking, paying money through Kickstarter means backing a project rather than purchasing a product.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you like the idea of a privacy-focused phone? Are the physical switches useful or just a marketing gimmick? Would you trust a little-known operating system rather than Android or iOS?

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Average: 5 (3 votes)


Dennis Faas's picture

This sounds like an interesting idea, but there are some major drawbacks.

First, disabling privacy will break a lot of features that make using an Android phone effective. For example: if you are visiting a new region, Google maps can show you what's nearby - which requires location turned on - and allows you to view what others in your area posted and have found interesting, such as restaurants, etc.

Secondly, the specs on third-party phones are typically nowhere near current, and are (at best) a year or two behind major phone manufacturers such as Samsung or Apple.

Third, there is no guarantee that you will be able to find parts for the phone if it breaks.

Fourth, and perhaps the most important, is whether or not security updates will be available especially if the product / project doesn't take off. Also, what happens if there are bugs?

Personally, I'm willing to deal with the lack of privacy for a guaranteed excellent phone experience. This is a bit of a balancing act and requires using the phone responsibly, keeping in mind that anything you do on the phone could be leaked or used against you - whether it's by Google or by malware. In the latter case, the fewer the apps you have installed the better.

Unrecognised's picture

It sounds like a great idea; essential even.

Firstly, are you kidding? Putting up with all that intrusion just to have the dubious benefit of that horrible spammy 'nearby' garbage? Not me! I hate 'nearby' and want it gone. As I've told google in no uncertain terms.

To address your second point, my phone is a Samsung S7 Edge and I'm pretty happy with it. That's more than a few years old. Maybe 7 years? Can't be bothered looking it up. If google and app developers would support older versions of apps and ~fuck off with~ stop all their obsolescence-inducing updates, I'd be in clover. A few years out of date means zero to me.

Thirdly and fourthly, time will tell. I await with bated breath.

Personally, I'm so outraged at all the intrusions into my privacy that I'm irritatingly shrill in discussion fora and about ready to dress the phone in 6 layers of tinfoil.

hrleno_14818's picture

There is a totally un-googled phone running BraxOS, called the Brax2 phone. I have one, works fine except I can't do any banking on it. Also, some Android phones can have other operating systems loaded on them that run Android Open-Source Project, like GrapheneOS.

Location services works great on them as well, they just don't report to the mother ship on where you are or what you're doing.