This phone has its own built-in VPN and doesn't use Android or iOS

Punkt MC02 Phone review.
(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to staying safe on mobile it often feels like you have to pick Android or iOS, but both have their pros and cons, and both have their privacy concerns. Do you pick between Google, one of the world’s largest companies? Or Apple, one of the world’s largest companies? Not much of a choice. 

Well, the third option is neither. The Punkt MC02 is a phone with a difference that was released earlier this year. It’s a privacy-focused phone, but it’s not one of the functionally limited (but increasingly popular) “dumbphones”. This is a fully-fledged smartphone that runs a separate operating system, Apostrophy OS, with all of the user’s data encrypted and kept in secure Swiss servers. 

There are plenty of neat tricks on the handset itself to put you at ease about your data and privacy. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to use one of the best VPNs, and the MC02 actually comes with its own VPN built-in, much like the Google Pixel. The MC02’s Digital Nomad app lets users spoof their location and access the internet from a choice of different countries. 

If you use a lot of apps on your phone, you’re probably sick of them asking for permission to access and share your data, the folks at Punkt clearly were too. They’ve made it easy to manage just what data you share with third parties. You can set a level of privacy for each individual app from 1 (all permissions allowed) to 5 (every request is denied). Best of all, you can set these restrictions on side-loaded Android apps, not just the more unfamiliar Apostrophy OS lineup. 

Daily use

Punkt MC02 Phone review.

(Image credit: Future)

But how is the MC02 as a phone? It does pretty much everything you’d expect as a smartphone, but just not very spectacularly. The camera is a functional 64 MP, the display a mediocre 60 Hz and the plastic casing doesn't exactly scream luxury. Battery life is pretty impressive however with a 5500 maH capacity. 

The Apostrophy OS (yes, that's how it's spelled) isn't particularly difficult to use, if you've used Android, you won't be too lost, but what might confuse you is the monochrome nature of the home screen. All of the more secure Apostrophy OS apps are black and white while any sideloaded Android apps are in full color, a striking and identifiable way of warning.

Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that you’ll need a paid subscription to make the most of Apostrophy’s data services. Although you do get a year for free with the purchase of the device.

If you’re attached to your current phone, or wedded to a specific operating system, then the best thing you could do is invest in a VPN be it for an Android or iPhone. Our top pick is NordVPN which offers superb performance and privacy. 

Andy Sansom
Staff Writer – VPN

Andy is Tom's Guide Staff Writer for VPNs and privacy. Based in the UK, he originally cut his teeth at Tom's Guide as a Trainee Writer (go and click on his articles!) before moving to cover all things Tech and streaming at T3. He's now back at Tom's Guide to keep you safe online, and bring you the latest news in VPN and cybersecurity. 

  • cuvtixo
    I wish some comparison was made to other phones that fit the title. Maybe linux phones like Pinephone or Librem, or other Android-derived OS phones like Pixels with GrapheneOS or CalyxOS . If the company fails, any chance of using a replacement "Android ROM", like AOSP or PostmarketOS? For that matter, mentioning the ~$300 price tag would be nice.