How can Google Pixel be trusted with proprietary firmware?

I am also looking for a new phone.

When it comes to Google, I have my doubts about privacy… But everyone here seems to suggest the Google Pixel.

@matchboxbananasynergy wrote:

Pixels also provide hardware security features that significantly enhance your privacy and security that the OS cannot provide.

Google using their own Tensor SoC. Those chips could have builtin backdoors or trackers…
Ofcourse other SoCs could also have this. But I think Google benefits more from trackers etc than for example Qualcomm.

@Valynor wrote:

AFAIK only Google openly provides all the necessary documentation and binaries for a project like gOS to work.

How can those binaries from Google be trusted?

It just feels weird to buy Google hardware for privacy…


Google using their own Tensor SoC. Those chips could have builtin backdoors or trackers…
Ofcourse other SoCs could also have this. But I think Google benefits more from trackers etc than for example Qualcomm.

Let alone the fact that Pixels are the reference devices for Android and are ripped apart by security researchers routinely, I’d like to pose another question to you. What is the point to “backdoors” or “trackers” on the hardware when 99,9% of people use some variation of Android where Google has privileged access to everything on the device via privileged Google Play Services?

If you want to use Android, Google Pixels provide hardware security features that no other device currently offers, and they have proper (and this is important) support for alternate OSes, which means you can replace the Stock OS without losing those hardware security features in the process.

Furthermore, what exactly are you gaining by buying another Android device with lesser security in your mind? All devices have closed firmware. In fact, Pixels are the most open in this regard.

It really makes no sense to buy any other device for Android at this point. I hope that other OEMs step up their game, but none seem to be interested in that right now except Google.

Your only other option is Apple and iPhones, but that begs the question of why you’d trust Apple but not Google with the hardware, so it’s a never ending cycle.

I totally understand this concern, but in this case, it’s unjustified.


Also, being propriety/closed source doesn’t directly mean no trust.

I think the main concern is Google make revenue from Ads, unlike apple.

I think the main concern is Google make revenue from Ads, unlike apple.

I fail to see how that would affect my trust in the company’s hardware and firmware. We can talk about different companies and their privacy practices (or lack thereof), but the OP’s question seems to center around the idea that we cannot trust Google’s hardware and firmware because… Google.

Isn’t it hard to trust Google because their main source of income is Ad?. For me at least, but I don’t hate ads, unless when i don’t have control.

Yea, it shouldn’t be a reason. Google has one of the best security systems in hardware and software.

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My post was orignally a comment on android-phone-is-pixel-the-only-available-option/335/7.

My conern was indeed that google make revenue from Ads. Another reason why I mentioned Google Pixel is that it’s the only Smartphone recommended by privacyguides.
Maybe my question should have been more general and about other companies. Like based on what can I trust the hardware/firmware of a company.

I don’t know much about privacy or security. I know there are some standard, like EAL.
This website is very strict on recommending a VPN, like an independed audit is required.

But apparently the Google pixel’s Titan M2 security chip also had an indenepded audit for AVA_VAN.5. See Google Online Security Blog: Pixel 6: Setting a new standard for mobile security (which was already shared in the google pixel section in recommendations :sweat_smile:, so next time read/research before posting…)
The Titan M2 on the Pixel 7 (Pro) received certification against CC PP0084 with AVA_VAN.5. See Google Online Security Blog: Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro: The next evolution in mobile security :

And, in a first for Google, Titan M2 hardware has now been certified under Common Criteria PP0084: the international gold standard for hardware security components also used for identity, SIM cards, and bankcard security chips.

So that sounds promising! Next step (ideal) would be that the entire Tensor or even the entire Pixel gets certified.

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One could also argue that “more” of a Pixel is actually open source:

Why Trusty?

Other TEE operating systems are traditionally supplied as binary blobs by third-party vendors or developed internally. Developing internal TEE systems or licensing a TEE from a third-party can be costly to System-on-Chip (SoC) vendors and OEMs. The monetary cost combined with unreliable third-party systems creates an unstable ecosystem for Android. Trusty is being provided to its partners as a reliable and free open source alternative for their Trusted Execution Environment. Trusty offers a level of transparency that is just not possible with closed source systems.

Android supports various TEE implementations so you are not restricted to using Trusty. Each TEE OS has its own unique way of deploying trusted applications. This fragmentation can be a problem for trusted application developers trying to ensure their apps work on every Android device. Using Trusty as a standard helps application developers to easily create and deploy applications without accounting for the fragmentation of multiple TEE systems. Trusty TEE provides developers and partners with transparency, collaboration, inspectability of code, and ease of debugging. Trusted application developers can converge around common tools and APIs to reduce the risk of introducing security vulnerabilities. These developers will have the confidence that they can develop an application and have it reused across multiple devices without further development.

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