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I have a few Android phones (ACK2326, Motorola G Play) and a cheap tablet that was a giveaway--a "Sky Devices, Elite T8Plus, Android Version 11".

I do a lot of sensitive work and cannot take chances with anyone using a "partition" to conceal their spyware. Instead of rooting the phone, I would like to remove the components altogether so that it literally cannot connect to the internet, giving me and my clients relief.

I will have a soldering iron here next week and I prefer this to rooting, but I don't exclude rooting as a solution, either.

How to remove the WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities using soldering iron? Where would I find the architecture of the circuit board? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thank you.

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  • You may disconnect the antennas (not that this may also the wifi and cellural part to be destroyed may be even more), but the mainboard is usually so small and integrated that you can only destroy it in total. Just look at the tear down images e.g. on ifixit web page and you will see that your iron if totally useless for an SOC which integrates everything in some small shielded chips.
    – Robert
    Commented May 26, 2023 at 21:17
  • Welcome to Android Enthusiasts. Manufacturers almost never provide the circuit board schematic to the public, so you have to rely on third-party repair services like iFixit.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented May 27, 2023 at 4:02

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If you just getting soldering iron, instead of proper professional soldering station, and also lack experience repairing PCBs under microscope or magnifier glass - then I suggest not to even try. Also, if Bluetooth and WiFi are integrated rather than a separate components, then you cannot do anything. You can try disconnect antennas but wireless connections still may be possible at a shorter range.

If you have something so important that you need full control of hardware, then get proper development platform, like Jetson Nano. By default it does not have WiFi and Bluetooth, so just do not buy optional wireless card if you don't want it.

Jetson Nano is relatively inexpensive, and buying it is cheaper than buying professional soldering station along with other need necessary tools for this kind of work. I had sometimes to repair phones after people without proper tools and experience tried to do even relatively simple tasks like attempting to replace MicroUSB port, so trust me, don't try this, unless you are ready for the learning curve and investing into the proper tools, and also know for a fact that wireless components you want to remove are actually separate components on the board, and are not integrated.

If for your purposes you must use smartphone or tablet (for example, if you mobility and touchscreen), then the proper solution is to use encryption (both on internal and SD card memory) and strong PIN code (like 12+ digits long, instead of 4-6) or password (at least 8 symbols long, and something not easily guessable), and never leave your device unattended in unlocked state, so nobody can install the spyware in the first place.

Rooting generally reduces security, unless you are an expert, so unless you have very specific reason to root, then don't. Just turn off WiFi and Bluetooth in settings, perhaps also install noroot firewall to be sure no app will send anything in case WiFi accidentally enabled, or just don't add any WiFi access points, or remove them if you already added them in the past.

Please note that if somebody manages to install spyware because you did not take good security precautions, not having wireless connection will not help - they can just copy your data right away. So in addition to the above you should do research if any of your devices have known vulnerabilities, and if yes, then just buy newer and more secure devices.

I answered this question assuming that how to harden security is your actual question, rather than learning how to solder or how to find particular components on the PCB board. Hopefully this information will help you to improve the security of your devices.

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