Ok, you have a shiny new S21 Ultra, or a Note 21, or any of the new/old Samsung Phones. What can you do to make them more private, and remove some battery hungry apps.

You have two options when it comes to Samsung. One is the 'rooted' road with a custom ROM, if that is the way you're planning to go I highly recommend going to the XDA Developers Forum and finding the device you are looking at (or have already obtained) and find a custom ROM that fits your needs.

A less radical way, which won't break your Samsung warranty, is the removal of bloatware via ADB and then tweaking the phone to your needs. Today's chapter addresses this, and I'll dive into ADB bit first.

You have two options here, one called Packagedisabler where you can disable packages, simple and via an app. The app has Google ANALytics in the background which makes it less exciting as it advertises its services. The second option is not with an app, but actually disable/remove the apps from your user space on the phone.

First step:

Enable Developer options on the device. Open:

Settings> About phone > Software information

(on a Galaxy S21 for instance) and tap ‘Build number‘ 7 times.

Upon reaching the 'Developer mode has been enabled” message, go back and tap 'Developer options'.

Scroll down and turn on ‘USB debugging‘, tap ‘Allow‘ once prompted.

Since you have enabled USB debugging on your Galaxy S21, Note 20 or probably most other Samsung devices which work in the same way, your phone is now ready to accept commands via ADB directly from your computer.

ADB

Open your Terminal or comment prompt on your PC, connect your phone to the PC via USB-C and type:

adb shell

Here you can delete bloatware with the following comment:

pm uninstall --user 0 (package name)

Replace package name with the actual name of the package you would like to remove.

Just hit enter and the programs will be uninstalled, for example:

Bixby

pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.bixby.wakeup 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.bixby.service 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.app.spage 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.app.routines 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.bixby.service 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.visionintelligence 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.bixby.agent 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.bixby.agent.dummy 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.bixbyvision.framework

Samsung Pass & Samsung Pay

pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.samsungpassautofill 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.authfw 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.samsungpass 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.spay 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.spayfw

Facebook

pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.katana 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.system 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.appmanager 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.services

Samsung Game Launcher

pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.game.gamehome 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.enhance.gameservice 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.game.gametools 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.game.gos 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.gametuner.thin

Samsung Gear VR

pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.hmt.vrsvc 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.app.vrsetupwizardstub 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.hmt.vrshell 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.vr.vrcore

Samsung DeX (useful if you like to use your phone on a TV)

pm uninstall --user 0 com.sec.android.desktopmode.uiservice 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.desktopsystemui 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.sec.android.app.desktoplauncher

Samsung’s LED Cover (useful if you use Samsung's original LED cover)

pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.app.ledbackcover 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.sec.android.cover.ledcover

Samsung Browser (download Bromite or Fennec first)

pm uninstall --user 0 com.sec.android.app.sbrowser 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.app.sbrowseredge

Samsung Email

pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.email.provider 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.wsomacp

Printing Services

pm uninstall --user 0 com.android.bips 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.printservice.recommendation 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.android.printspooler

Samsung Edge (useful if you use the Edge)

pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.service.peoplestripe

Samsung Kids

pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.kidsinstaller pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.app.camera.sticker.facearavatar.preload

Other Bloatware

pm uninstall --user 0 com.dsi.ant.sample.acquirechannels 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.dsi.ant.service.socket 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.dsi.ant.server 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.dsi.ant.plugins.antplus 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.android.egg 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.sec.android.easyonehand 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.sec.android.widgetapp.samsungapps 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.mateagent 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.sec.android.easyMover.Agent 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.app.watchmanagerstub 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.sec.android.daemonapp 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.app.social 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.aremoji 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.ar.core 
pm uninstall --user 0 flipboard.boxer.app 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.wellbeing 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.da.daagent 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.samsung.android.service.livedrawing 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.sec.android.mimage.avatarstickers 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.hiya.star 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.microsoft.appmanager 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.touchtype.swiftkey 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.netflix.partner.activation 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.microsoft.skydrive 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.apps.tachyon

Launcher (if you don't have another launcher installed do not remove!)

pm uninstall --user 0 com.sec.android.app.launcher

Google

pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.youtube 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.googlequicksearchbox 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.android.hotwordenrollment.xgoogle 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.apps.docs 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.apps.maps 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.android.chrome 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.apps.photos 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.tts 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.videos 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.gms.location.history 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.sec.android.app.chromecustomizations

If you want to remove even more Google, this removes the Google Framework and the Google Playstore but use with caution!

pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.onetimeinitializer 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.as 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.gm 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.setupwizard 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.android.sharedstoragebackup 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.gsf 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.partnersetup 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.android.vending 
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.gms

Please note that ADB does not really remove the applications, but uninstalls them in the user's account. In other words, these applications can easily be reinstalled with a factory reset or also with this simple comment:

cmd package install-existing [package name]

Removing these apps via ADB is the first step, now let's get you more private. The main problem on Android is you are using Google's DNS request 'out of the box', sadly not even encrypted. Considering google gas google.dns as an encrypted DNS option.

DNS Go to Settings -> Network & Internet -> Advanced -> Private DNS

Enter an DNS server, this can be any, for example:

fdns1.dismail.de

which is a German provider who directly blocks a lot of Ad-, Trackers and Malware domains You can also jump over to NextDNS and have a look at their service as you can select your own blockers, which could include a Samsung list.

This not only gets your DNS requested as encrypted, but also makes sure all your DNS requests are not redirected as your ISP might not approve!

Another great option would be using a Firewall

1) Netguard

​https://www.netguard.me/

With Netguard, get the one from GitHub, pay in bitcoin and set it up with a total lockdown on apps then only allow apps that you totally trust! You can even allow some apps that only work when the screen is on! On Netguard you can add your own domain blocklists via an txt file and block them locally, Netguard also allows the combination with the build in DNS service mentioned earlier. What make the setup encrypted and combines a firewall to the setup. Consider checking each app, do they really need network access? Like your calculator? Your Gallery... block what you don't need online. You can even choose if you have apps only working when the screen is on, only on WiFi or only on Mobile etc. A great setup worth paying and using.

or

2) AdGuard https://adguard.com/en/welcome.html

AdGuard can do basically the same as Netguard, but has DNS built in. It also let you choose on websites you open in your browser to block elements of the site.

We've tested both apps and both work really well. Netguard is open-source, super easy to use and setup in lockdown mode but then so is AdGuard, However, it has a few great, additional features:

Personalized DNS services via DNS-over-HTTPS and DNS-over-TLS which are two great, first steps to privacy, as you can read here.

There is more though, for example, the Blocklist feature which both blocks an already impressive, pre-offered list but which also allows you to add your own suggestions or lists!

You can even block directly at a DNS level

Click on AdGuard -> Settings -> DNS Filter

Select the DNS server you like, or add your own

Samsung Spy List

Use the same lists on AdGuard -> Settings -> Content Blocking -> Filters -> Custom Filters

Go to Settings -> Content Blocking -> Filters -> User rules and enter

||samsung.com.cn^
||dnsdelegation.io^
||crashlytics.com^
||samsungapps.com^
||baidu.com^
||360safe.com^
||360.cn^
||qq.com^
||samsungdm.com^
||samsungcloud.com^
||samsungimagine.com^
||secb2b.com^
||samsung.com^
||fbcdn.com^
||fasty.net^
||taobao.tw^
||taobao.com^
||localytics.com^
||medialytics.com^
||samqaicongen.com^

Please remember if you use AdGuard or Netguard (we strongly recommend you do!)

AdGuard -> Settings -> Apps Management

Go over every app and choose if you want that app to go online on WiFi, Cellphone or not when the screen is off! This is an incredible feature to have, and it is also a super spy saver as Samsung routinely connects in apps like Camera, Calculator and Gallery Samsung servers.

F-Droid

It should go unquestionably, if you want privacy, do not use any Google services or the Playstore. The best open-source store for Android is called f-droid, and you should find most of the apps you need in there. If not, you can download Aurora Store on F-droid, don't use your Google login but click anonymous.

Maps

Disable Google Maps and replace it with OsmAnd~!

Email

For email program use FairEmail or perhaps go Protonmail or Tutanota for maximum privacy.

2FA

FreeOTP+ is a great applications for 2FA and you are able to backup or restore your 2FA from another phone (as long as it also has FreeOTP+.).

Scrambled Exif

I strongly recommend getting Scrambled Exif which removes Metadata from your photos. Every time you share a picture to any app, just select Scrambled Exif first and then the app with which you want to share the picture with, it then removes all metadata and makes your life a little more private.

Tracking

Ever wonder what apps track you? You have two options to find out. Exodus  and ClassyShark3xodus

Weather

The 'out of the box' weather app tracks you and you don't really want or need this so another great weather app that respects your privacy is called Forecastie

DAVx5

CalDAV/CardDAV Synchronization and Client, which allows you to sync your contacts and calendar with Nextcloud and other services.

Twitter

You do like Twitter? Do you tweet? Perhaps check Mastodon and dump Twitter for good, you can always follow the people you need to follow with an app called Fritter or use Nitter to do the same on a browser.

Browser

Replace your Internet Browser (Samsungs and Chrome) with something more friendly like Fennec F-droid and as a second option, what protects your privacy consider the Tor Browser

YouTube

Download NewPipe, you won't regret it, its better then YouTube's own app, has no ads and you can even download MP3 or Movie files. Awesome also for your privacy. NewPipe also has PeerTube built in!

SpeedTest

Do you really need the speediest app? If so, go with Librespeed

Instagram

Use Barinsta to follow people.

UntrackMe

UntrackMe is my favorite app, it redirects twitter to nitter, youtube to invidious or Newpipe, Instagram to Bibliogram, Reddit to teddit and it keeps you private on any link someone sends you! A must have

Messenger

Well, don't get me started, a good messenger would be SchildiChat which connects to Matrix so it is compatible with FluffyChat, Element and everything Matrix. If you need to go more mainstream, use Threema (download over shop.threema.ch) or if you really must have your Pohne number involved use Signal (use the APK from Signals website.

Now the question I get a lot is like "but if I am not logged in to Google or Samsung and I use an VPN, no one could track me to my real location.!", well... I recommend a firewall like Netguard or AdGuard over a VPN. Simply because you can block apps from having access to the internet. The next question about your VPN idea is can you trust your VPN? Do they log? Only saying "we don't log" doesn't really mean they don't log.

Finally, ask yourself, do I need all the apps I have installed? Or could I access a website to archive the same?

Stay safe, and start taking power away from Google and the like! It starts on your phone. The 'ankle monitor' you carry around with you most of the day.