I would like to setup my phone to be able to browse/use apps as anonymously as possible. I realize that will require Tor/VPNs, and I am working on getting that information elsewhere. Here I am focusing on the phone itself.
It will be a new Samsung Galaxy S8 on Verizon (I realize not many people will have hands on with this model yet, so just reference what you would do on the S7 if need be). I would like to anonymize and secure it as much as possible. For example, I know that Verizon and Google are shipping new phones with spyware and other tagging features. I am not very tech saavy (I cant code), but I am a fast learners.
I will be trying to avoid using Google products at all costs (No Play Store, GMail, etc) - except for Android system updates (I assume this is a necessity?). I am willing to do anything, except: Replace the OS - it has to be regular Android (Unless someone can show me an add-on/alternative that wont require constant maintenance/detailed knowledge of how a phone OS works), or compromise the basic software so that it become unstable or wont work with basic apps.
I assume rooting is a must - but I will need some direction as to how this can be done safely, and what I will then need to do to keep the phone updated and stable.
Specifically I am looking for:
How to remove all native spyware/malware/unnecessary apps (without accidentally deleting something critical).
Remove any features that could ID my device over the internet
What kind of software/app I need to set up to protect against future malicious software (some kind of anti-virus/malware scanner?).
How to most securely encrypt the phone and any data on it (so that if someone was able to get control of it, accessing it's contents without the pass key would be as difficult as possible).
Any general tips that might help with this.