Old phone as a 2FA only device?

I am getting more and more frustrated with the smart phone experience and I am considering ditching mine altogether and moving towards a life free of Google.

As I was thinking of the apps I actually use I felt like I wouldn’t miss most of them. The capabilities I’d like to keep are the use of a Two Factor Authentication app and a password manager.

I was considering using a custom ROM to remove the bloat from Android and keeping a phone just for that.

Then I remembered Wendell mentioning on the Level1 News a while ago a model of phone that was relatively recent, had a removable battery and had the cellular radio on a separate board.
He mentioned it in the context of removing the board and having a phone that was “offline” for security purposes.

The problem is that I can’t remember what specific phone it was.

Can anyone remember what he was talking about or suggest a phone I could use for this?

Ideally, Android, decent support from the custom ROM community, easy to root, removable battery and the ability to completely remove the radio.

Thanks in advance.


no way to install android / lineageOS / AOSP in a VM?

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My recommendation is to install LineageOS on your phone (if it supports it, or buy one that does: wiki.lineageos.org/devices ) The OS comes with no google applications or bloat installed, and has to be installed manually via OpenGApps. So i just use my android phone with the google free experience. No playstore, using FDroid instead.

I recently purchased a used Galaxy S5 off of ebay, and am planning to make a thread about Android without Google Apps.

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Thanks, I’ll give it a look.

I’ll have a go at that.

I have an old S6, an LG G4 and a couple of other old things.
I’m sure one of them will have a decent degree of compatibility.

I’d be very interested to see that thread. I’ve made steps to remove Google from my desktop/laptop devices.
Mobile is the last thing.

Still curious about the phone with a removable radio though.

A suggestion that may be a little out of scope is Authy. It is basically a cloud synced Google Authenticator that is cross platform. Now it being cloud sync is a does provide some security issues on its own.

This is just an option as I personally don’t have my full trust in a single device that has a higher potential fail rate (over time) than a single purpose 2FA dongle.

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I use andOTP for the Two-Factor portion, and use Keepass DX for password management.

Both are Free Software and available on F-Droid, so work fine without Google Services.

andOTP is compatible with Google Authenticator, and Keepass DX can import keyrings from the very popular KeePass family of applications.

I keep things in sync with the phone using NextCloud Dev, but that requires a self-hosted server-side component. I do recommend that, but it might not be an option everybody’s happy with.

A simpler sync option that doesn’t require server-side components would be Syncthing.

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Thank you.

I will look into that, I don’t necessarily dislike the cloud. I used to use Lastpass.

Thank you.

That sounds good. I guess I have lots of reading to do.
Having a self-hosted server isn’t a problem in theory.
I have the hardware and the bandwidth, I just haven’t let my server be visible to the 'net before.

If only there were a smartphone out there with open-source firmware :thinking: I would go for a pixel xl or the like… All the major XDA developers that make serious custom kernels and crack out updates daily are going with those phones.

Feel free to DM me if you have any questions on the Microg project and going google-free. Sometimes you need to enforce signature spoofing through magisk Xposed if your rom doesn’t support it. I’m running on my fully encrypted OnePlus One with a locked bootloader, wiped recovery, and running an aosp rom on the latest security patches. No google installed, just micro g. I got this phone in 2013 and it still gets security patches lol.

Thanks, I got an old Galaxy S3 and now I have Lineage OS, FDroid, and a few other bits on there for experimentation.

Ironically, right after I posted that Linus did a video about doing Lineage OS on an LG G3.

I’m actually enjoying myself messing with this.


That’s good to hear! Yeah lineage os is a good place to start, their roms are not as optimized as caf would be (if you have any caf ROMs available) but they’re always feature-rich. Some phones like your s3 might only have lineageOS available cause they like to Port things and put them under compatibility layers, hence why you see extremely old phones with Android pie lineage OS ROMs lol

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Regarding 2FA, theres an app on F-Droid called Aegis that does that.



I have Aegis, it’s pretty good.

I appreciate all the advice I’m getting here. Thanks everyone.