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Home Android News Freedom Phone: The 'ultimate political tool' and why you should avoid it

Freedom Phone: The ‘ultimate political tool’ and why you should avoid it

Freedom Phone Erik Finman

The Freedom Cellphone is a brand new “free speech and privateness first” handset unveiled in July that is elevating purple flags with journalists and safety consultants, who say it is only a rebranded price range Chinese language Android telephone. 

Freedom Cellphone/Screenshot by Carrie Mihalcik/CNET

The 22 year-old self-proclaimed “Bitcoin millionaire” Erik Finman in an interview with The New York Times described smartphones as “the last word political instruments. Everybody has one of their pocket.” His model new Freedom Phone guarantees to prioritize “free speech and privateness”above the rest. You would possibly assume that the Freedom Cellphone follows the development of phone-makers like Apple that use software updates to make it harder for companies to track you. Finman’s preliminary announcement for the Freedom Cellphone was adopted swiftly by security concerns raised by numerous publications and privacy experts.

The Freedom Cellphone and its politically conservative branding will attraction to many, however there may be nothing to counsel that the telephone, its privateness claims or avoidance of Huge Tech work the way in which Finman suggests. The telephone raises numerous purple flags regardless of its maker wanting you to see nothing greater than purple, white and blue. The Freedom Cellphone contradicts Finman’s hype and it makes me marvel if he’s being fully forthright with consumers.

On Aug. 9, Finman posted to Twitter an image of a stack of FedEx bins with the caption, “It is transport time.” The tweet was posted utilizing Twitter for iPhone.

Freedom Phone Erik Finman

Eric Finman posted a tweet utilizing Twitter for iPhone to announce that the primary batch of Freedom Telephones had been transport.


The website for the Freedom Phone has been overhauled because it launched. The ten completely different “purchase” buttons had been diminished to 3, together with the power to make use of Apple Pay, which is curious, due to Finman’s outspoken opposition to Huge Tech corporations. The location states, “Not simply making America nice. But in addition making an excellent telephone.” The Freedom Cellphone seems to be extra excited about political rhetoric than technical improvements.

If you happen to’re in search of a telephone that protects your privateness, look elsewhere. The Freedom Cellphone raises a number of purple flags. Initially the telephone was imagined to run software program known as Freedom OS, which Finman claimed protects your privateness. It had an “uncensorable” app retailer known as the PatriApp retailer that claims to characteristic apps banned by Huge Tech. Within the announcement video, Finman reveals off a telephone that’s powered off and appears just like a budget Chinese phone that sells for one-quarter of the Freedom Cellphone’s $500 worth.

On Aug. 26, Finman introduced a partnership with ClearCellular, which runs on AT&T and T-Cell networks within the US. Future fashions of the Freedom Cellphone will run ClearOS Cell, which is predicated on Android 10, made by the Huge Tech firm Google. The brand new telephones could have higher {hardware}, safety and a ClearCellular emblem on the again.

In a post on Twitter, Finman wrote, “We designed the unique model nice, however now we’re making it 10x higher. Which means stronger safety, tighter privateness, and higher {hardware}.”

The basic specs and technical particulars put the Freedom Cellphone practically on par with a $200 price range Android telephone. Regardless of Finman claiming that the Freedom Cellphone is akin to the perfect smartphones, its {hardware} would not come near premium telephones just like the Galaxy S21 Extremely or iPhone 12 Professional Max. On paper, it would not even appear akin to the perfect price range telephones. There are not any particulars in regards to the new model of the Freedom Cellphone that comes out in November or what makes it “10x higher.”

It is not clear whether or not the fashions that shipped in August might be upgraded from Freedom OS to ClearOS or if Finman is planning to help each Freedom OS and ClearOS shifting ahead. Additionally, if the unique telephone and OS was imagined to be sturdy, what makes the brand new OS have stronger safety and privateness options? It doesn’t matter what your politics are, this is not a very good signal.

Learn extra: 5G myths, debunked

There is not a lot details about how any of the software program privateness and free speech options really work on the August model of the Freedom Cellphone, or the brand new model that is due out in November. This can be a purple flag. The telephone is marketed fully on its politically conservative branding and looks as if nothing greater than a savvy entrepreneur trying to earn a living from conservatives pissed off with Facebook and Twitter banning former President Donald Trump.

I additionally ordered a Freedom Cellphone for testing, however had my order canceled. I positioned one other order and hope to try it out after I obtain it. I do not advocate you purchase the Freedom Cellphone right now. I contacted Freedom Cellphone and Finman for remark and to get extra details about the telephone. 

What’s the Freedom Cellphone?

It is a new telephone that guarantees to guard your privateness and permit free speech with out censorship throughout the machine. In his promotional video, Finman says that the Freedom Cellphone “does the whole lot your present telephone does besides censor you or spy on you.” He says it is akin to the perfect smartphones in the marketplace. The Freedom Phone’s specs should not akin to the specs of the perfect telephones. At finest, a few of the specs are akin to the $200 Moto G Play or the $250 Moto G Power. Each of these telephones have an enormous 5,000-mAh battery. The dimensions of the Freedom Cellphone’s battery is unknown.

Finman goes on to state that everybody is complaining about “Huge Tech censorship” however nobody is doing something about it. On display screen within the video, a generic tweet is proven that is dated Dec. 18 and attributed to Twitter consumer “@twitteruser” that reads, “BUILD YOUR OWN PHONE!” To which Finman replies, “So, I did.” The Twitter account shown is a real address whose final put up is dated Nov. 5, 2013. 

What number of Freedom Telephones are there?

There’s the unique Freedom Cellphone and apparently a brand new model that comes out in three months’ time. 

Does the Freedom Cellphone really work?

We do not know. Within the launch video, the telephone stays powered off the whole time. That would point out that the software program is not prepared for viewing. We requested Freedom Cellphone for extra particulars.

Why is the Freedom Cellphone controversial?

Any time a handset vendor makes claims a few telephone’s options, it falls to the corporate to display and clarify how these options work. The Freedom Cellphone’s web site, launch video and Finman’s posts on Twitter give few particulars in regards to the telephone or how its protections work. The technical particulars shared do not match as much as Finman’s claims. The truth that the corporate already has a second model of the telephone deliberate with a completely new OS is a large purple flag.

How a lot does the Freedom Cellphone price?

It is listed at $500. That is the identical worth as a Galaxy A52 5G, a Google Pixel 4A 5G and an iPhone XR. It is $50 greater than the new Google Pixel 5A with 5G

Learn extra: Best phones under $500 in 2021

Is the Freedom Cellphone only a rebranded $120 Chinese language Android telephone?

The Freedom Cellphone has the tagline: “Made for conservatives by conservatives.” Seems it is really made by a Chinese language firm known as Umidigi that is primarily based in Shenzhen. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Finman confirmed that Umidigi made the Freedom Cellphone however did not specify which Umidigi telephone design is used.

Matthew Hickey, a cybersecurity skilled who co-founded Hacker House, advised the Daily Dot that the Freedom Cellphone is a Chinese language telephone known as the Umidigi A9 Professional that may be purchased from AliExpress for as little as $119. He stated that the A9 Professional is bought in bulk with customized logos and branding.

In a tweet, Finman wrote, “We designed this between my design lab and our accomplice in Hong Kong to make a telephone that’s customized.”

Ought to I purchase a Freedom Cellphone?

No. Even when all of Finman’s claims in regards to the Freedom Cellphone grow to be true, it is best to attend till gadgets can be found to check the corporate’s claims.

Is the Freedom Cellphone a rip-off?

Finman hasn’t defined how the telephone works, or the way it protects your privateness or free speech. Regardless of the claims to date, the Freedom Cellphone’s fundamental technical particulars do not match the claims Finman made about it being akin to the perfect telephone in the marketplace. The truth that he’s releasing a completely new model of the Freedom Cellphone simply months after the preliminary one shipped is not a very good signal both. Whereas I can not outright name it a rip-off, I’d method this handset with warning till it is obtainable for testing. 

What makes the Freedom Cellphone safe?

The primary Freedom Cellphone runs on Freedom OS. Finman says that it will not observe your apps, your keystrokes or your location, however he would not clarify how. The telephone’s Freedom OS has a safety privateness guard known as Belief.

“With highly effective instruments resembling Belief, you might be in charge of what your apps can do everytime you need. Belief will make it easier to perceive the safety of your machine and warn you about attainable threats.”

We’ve by no means heard of Belief. It could be one thing Finman’s crew developed. Once more, there are not any particulars on the way it works or the place it got here from. It is not clear if Freedom OS is predicated on Android. (And only a reminder that Huge Tech firm Google makes Android.)

Google regularly updates Android with software program upgrades and safety patches, which this telephone probably would not get.

An upcoming new model of the Freedom Cellphone will run ClearOS Cell, which is constructed on Android 10. 

What makes the Freedom Cellphone ‘uncensorable’?

The web site says the Freedom Cellphone has an “uncensorable” PatriApp retailer providing apps banned by the Google Play Retailer and iOS App Retailer. What’s unclear is that if there are insurance policies within the PatriApp retailer that defend towards illicit prison exercise, hate speech, graphic and sexual materials or pedophilia. Is the PatriApp retailer mainly just like the 4chan of app shops?

It additionally is not clear how the telephone would deal with technical particulars like IP tracing, web site cookies or different typical monitoring instruments used on telephones and different digital gadgets. We do not know if the Freedom Cellphone has obtained clearance from the Federal Communications Fee.

Which carriers does the Freedom Cellphone work on?

The Freedom Cellphone web site states it’ll work with “Verizon, AT&T, T-Cell & Dash, and all different home and worldwide carriers.” (In 2020, T-Mobile officially closed its $26.5 billion merger with Sprint.)

The upcoming model will run on ClearCellular, which runs on the backs of AT&T and T-Cell.

How does the Freedom Cellphone defend towards service monitoring?

It is unclear, and the difficulty is not addressed on the Freedom Cellphone web site.

If the Freedom Cellphone avoids Huge Tech, why does it work on the entire main US carriers?

That is additionally unclear. In Finman’s promo video, the time period Huge Tech is basically used within the context of Twitter and Fb banning Trump after he used his accounts to whip up a mob that invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6.

When are you able to order a Freedom Cellphone?

The Freedom Cellphone is obtainable to order now. We strongly advocate you do not order it.

When does the Freedom Cellphone ship?

The unique Freedom Cellphone shipped in August. A second batch will ship in October. The brand new model of the Freedom Cellphone is anticipated to ship in November.

The place can you purchase a Freedom Cellphone?

At the moment, solely on the Freedom Cellphone web site.

What apps does the Freedom Cellphone run?

The web site reveals icons for Parler, NewsMax, OANN, Rumble, the DuckDuckGo internet browser and Telegram encrypted messaging. But it surely’s unclear if it is going to be in a position to run productiveness apps like Microsoft Phrase or Adobe Acrobat, social media apps like TikTok or Snapchat, courting apps like Tinder or Grindr, or video video games.

Is the Freedom Cellphone ‘akin to the perfect smartphones’ as Finman claims?

We’ve sturdy doubts. The design proven within the video appears like dozens of price range Android telephones we have seen over time. It would not look high-end. The display screen has a teardrop cutout for the selfie digicam, which is a design alternative many Android telephones had three years in the past.

From the specs which can be shared, it is clear that the Freedom Cellphone’s should not on par with specs from the best smartphones like the iPhone 12 or Galaxy S21. The Freedom Cellphone has some specs that match as much as price range telephones just like the $200 Moto G Play and $250 Moto G Power, though the Moto telephones have further options like Turbo Charging.

What are the specs for the Freedom Cellphone?

It has a 6-inch display screen that Finman says is edge-to-edge. Within the video, he by no means reveals the show powered on operating Freedom OS. Pictures present a dual-SIM card tray with a spot for expandable storage. Finman says issues like “nice digicam,” “akin to the perfect smartphones in the marketplace” and a “tremendous quick processor,” however the specs shared inform a special story.

At finest, the Freedom Cellphone’s {hardware} specs put it barely on the identical stage with a $200-$250 price range telephone. Necessary particulars about the kind of processor (Qualcomm or MediaTek) in addition to the battery measurement are omitted. There are three rear cameras, however other than the decision of the sensors, info concerning cameras is absent, resembling if one is ultrawide or a depth sensor.

Curiously, the Freedom Cellphone has NFC, which suggests it may be capable to use wi-fi funds like Google Pay. However since Google is a part of Huge Tech I am undecided what, if any, wi-fi funds can be supported on Freedom OS. There additionally is not any point out of biometric safety like a fingerprint reader to unlock the telephone or for on-line procuring. See how the Freedom Cellphone’s specs stack up towards some 2021 price range telephones beneath.

Freedom Cellphone specs vs. Umidigi A9 Professional, Motorola Moto G Play, Motorola Moto G Energy

Freedom Cellphone Umidigi A9 Professional Motorola Moto G Play (2021) Motorola Moto G Energy (2021)
Show measurement, decision 6-inch LCD; 1,560×720 pixels 6.3-inch LCD; 2,340×1,080 pixels 6.5-inch LCD; 1,600×720 pixels 6.6-inch LCD; 1,600×720 pixels
Pixel density 286ppi 409ppi 269ppi 267ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.06×2.87×0.33 in 6.25×2.95×0.34 in 6.5×2.99×0.39 in 6.51×2.99×0.37 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 154x73x8.5 mm 159x75x8.6 mm 167x76x9.4mm 165x756x9.5mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.64 oz; 160g 7.23 oz; 205g 7.2 oz; 204g 7.28 oz; 206.5g
Cell software program Freedom OS or ClearOS Cell (Android 10) Android 10 Android 10 Android 10
Digicam 13-megapixel, 2-megapixel, 2-megapixel 32-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultrawide), 5-megapixel (macro), 5-megapixel (depth sensor) 13-megapixel (wide-angle), 2-megapixel (depth sensor) 48-megapixel (wide-angle), 2-megapixel (macro), 2-megapixel (depth sensor)
Entrance-facing digicam 8-megapixel 24-megapixel 5-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video seize TBA 1080p 1080p 1080p
Processor 1.8GHz octa-core processor; model unknown 1.8GHz MediaTek, Helio P60 octa-core (4xCortex-A73 and 4xCortex-A53) processor Snapdragon 460 with 1.8GHz octa-core Kryo 260 CPU, 600MHz Adreno 610 GPU Snapdragon 662
Storage 64GB 64GB 32GB 32GB/64GB
Expandable storage As much as 256GB As much as 256GB As much as 512GB As much as 512GB
Battery 4,000 mAh 4,150 mAh 5,000 mAh 5,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor TBA Rear Rear Facet
Headphone jack Sure Sure Sure Sure
Particular options Comes with a transparent case, dual-SIM card (each bodily) Comes with a case and display screen protector, 10W quick charging, digital infrared thermometer, customizable {hardware} shortcut key, dual-SIM card (each bodily), 10W speedy charging, spot colour pictures 15W turbo charging, EIS, FM radio, spot colour pictures and video
Worth off-contract (USD) $500 $120 $200 $250 (64GB); $200 (32GB

Who owns Freedom Cellphone?

According to its website, Freedom Cellphone is owned by Finman, LLC, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Eric Finman is listed as the corporate’s agent and organizer.

Who’s Freedom Cellphone’s billionaire founder Erik Finman?

Finman grew up in Idaho. In 2013, at the age of 14 he reportedly bought 100 Bitcoin for $1,000, which, by the point he was 20, was price greater than $1 million. In 2017, he founded the education startup Botangle. In 2019, he invested in a cryptocurrency firm known as Metal Pay to be a competitor to Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency (now known as Diem).

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