The best secure smartphones

iPhone 12 Pro Max phone on a table with the three camera lenses facing up

Finding the most secure phone can be beneficial for any individual, but it’s especially useful for businesses looking to equip their employees with the safest devices they can.

Because phones are inherently connected devices, it can be all too easy to expose data. Personally identifiable information such as financial details, or sensitive work documents can be stolen unless you take precautions in your device choices.

The best secure smartphones

Purism Librem 5

Librem 5 smartphone

(Image credit: Librem)
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Open source OSNot the most energy efficient
Unique level of repairability$999 is expensive for an obscure brand

While the Purism Librem 5 is fairly old, having launched in 2020, it’s a great example of a secure smartphone that doesn’t lose itself in other fancy features. It runs an open source operating system grounded in Linux called PureOS, which frees it from the update cycle and legacy bugs of Android. Based on the Debian OS – a popular mix of GNU Linux – the source code for PureOS can be fully audited for security purposes. What's more, if you don't have to use PureOS, the phone allows for other operating systems to be involved, which just requires some technical knowledge.

The team behind PureOS, known as the "free desktop" community according to Purism's website, has put technical excellence before quick profits. Developers claim they took their time to make sure everything worked and was safe to use before putting it on the market. One of the most effective security tools on the Librem 5 is its 'kill switches', three of which are built into the hardware to disable the camera, microphone, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and all network connectivity – including GPS – instantly.

While other phones on this list have combined SoC solutions, the Librem 5 has six distinct chips to improve manufacturing freedom and is an attempt by its creators to prevent planned obsolescence.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

The iPhone 15 Pro Max in all four of its available colors, with the fifth phone in the line-up turned around so the screen is visible. All are set against a white background.

(Image credit: Apple)
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Fantastic all-rounderRelatively expensive at $1,199
Lockdown Mode fights the toughest threatsClosed iOS ecosystem

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is arguably the most secure iPhone ever. It takes all the best features and designs of the most recent models and melds them into one super secure device. 

Apple has made great strides in recent years, in terms of on-device security. Taking on the likes of Pegasus spyware, iOS 16 comes with a Lockdown Mode that provides "extreme protection", according to Apple. This is an optional feature, but once it's switched on it blocks most file attachments and also rejects non-secure Wi-Fi networks – that also includes some web technologies that might be exploitable by attackers, keeping your iPhone uncompromised.

What's more, the Lockdown Mode comes with a host of robust security features that work to keep all the user's data safe. For example, Face ID technology lets users unlock their phones with facial recognition. This is thanks to the A17 Pro chip that maps out the user's face but keeps that specific data encrypted on the device – it's also secured in an 'enclave' subsystem.

While it is one of the most popular brands around, the latest iPhone is also a security-heavy device that should also appeal to business users who handle sensitive data.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

The Pixel 8 Pro from the front, back, and side view in blue. It is set against a lighter shade of blue.

(Image credit: Google)
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Seven years of supportQuite poor battery life
Built-in VPNNo Lockdown Mode equivalent

Android users have s breadth of choice when it comes to smartphones, but they might be best served, from a security perspective, by opting for the device made by the parent company of Android, Google. The Pixel 8 Pro is arguably the best of the tech giant's handsets, and also one of the first to get the latest updates (and security patches). 

Inside the Pixel 8 Pro is Google's latest in-house processor, the Tensor G3, which is an ARM-based chip that uses TrustZone technology. TrustZone has been designed to store sensitive data in a more heavily secured part of the phone. What's more, the Pixel 8 Pro has a dedicated security chip in the Titan M2. This is where encrypted data, such as fingerprints, or facial scans are kept. That information is also stored in its own dedicated area.

Other Google-specific features include VPN for Google One, the company's own virtual private network, which shields user data when on a public Wi-Fi network – a handy feature when working remotely.

Bittium Tough Mobile 2C

Bittium smartphone render against a white background.

(Image credit: Bittium)
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Physically ruggedHard to purchase
Always-on VPNNo biometric login

The Bittium Tough Mobile 2C is a rugged and secure smartphone that boasts two operating systems for complete data separation. One OS is a hardened version of Android 9, and the other is the company’s Secure OS. Users can switch between the two with the device’s dual boot functionality.

It also comes with a free YubiKey 5 NFC security key to support two-factor authentication. There is also an always-on VPN and the company’s mobile device management software.

The rugged phone has an IP67 rating and MIL-STD-810G, meaning it is waterproof to a degree and resists breakage.

Silent Circle Blackphone 2

The Silent Circle Blackphone 2, as sold by EncryptedOS. The phone is set against a white background.

(Image credit: Silent Circle / EncryptedOS)
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Unparalleled encryptionNo longer supported by manufacturer
Strong privacy controlsDifficult to purchase

For those who are seeking ultimate encryption for their phone, the Blackphone 2 from Silent Circle isn’t a bad option. This device has been custom-built for security, with a modded version of Android titled Silent OS in which all app permissions are editable. Its flagship feature is its integrated AES encryption, which keeps phone calls, messages, and shared files secure. Like some other phones on the list, it also comes with its own VPN.

Silent Circle acknowledges the usefulness of secure phones for enterprises with built-in compatibility for mobile device management (MDM) solutions and Android for Work. Users can also create multiple user profiles on the phone. The downside to the Blackphone 2, which launched in 2015, is that it is no longer supported by Silent Circle. It is now only available from registered partners.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.