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

Freedom Phone Erik Finman

The Freedom Telephone is a brand new “free speech and privateness first” handset unveiled in July that is elevating crimson flags with journalists and safety specialists, who say it is only a rebranded finances Chinese language Android cellphone. 

Freedom Telephone/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 Telephone guarantees to prioritize “free speech and privateness”above anything. You would possibly assume that the Freedom Telephone follows the development of phone-makers like Apple that use software program updates to make it tougher for corporations to trace you. Finman’s preliminary announcement for the Freedom Telephone was adopted swiftly by security concerns raised by numerous publications and privacy experts.

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

On Aug. 9, Finman posted to Twitter an image of a stack of FedEx containers with the caption, “It is delivery 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 have been delivery.


The website for the Freedom Phone has been overhauled because it launched. The ten completely different “purchase” buttons have been diminished to 3, together with the power to make use of Apple Pay, which is curious, due to Finman’s outspoken opposition to Large Tech corporations. The positioning states, “Not simply making America nice. But additionally making an incredible cellphone.” The Freedom Telephone seems to be extra focused on political rhetoric than technical improvements.

Should you’re searching for a cellphone that protects your privateness, look elsewhere. The Freedom Telephone raises numerous crimson flags. Initially the cellphone was presupposed to run software program referred to as Freedom OS, which Finman claimed protects your privateness. It had an “uncensorable” app retailer referred to as the PatriApp retailer that claims to characteristic apps banned by Large Tech. Within the announcement video, Finman reveals off a cellphone that’s powered off and appears much like a budget Chinese phone that sells for one-quarter of the Freedom Telephone’s $500 value.

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 Telephone will run ClearOS Cell, which is predicated on Android 10, made by the Large Tech firm Google. The brand new telephones may 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 Telephone almost on par with a $200 finances Android cellphone. Regardless of Finman claiming that the Freedom Telephone is corresponding 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 corresponding to the perfect finances telephones. There aren’t any particulars in regards to the new model of the Freedom Telephone 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 assist each Freedom OS and ClearOS shifting ahead. Additionally, if the unique cellphone and OS was presupposed 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 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 Telephone, or the brand new model that is due out in November. It is a crimson flag. The cellphone is marketed fully on its politically conservative branding and looks as if nothing greater than a savvy entrepreneur trying to earn cash from conservatives annoyed with Fb and Twitter banning former President Donald Trump.

I additionally ordered a Freedom Telephone for testing, however had my order canceled. I positioned one other order and hope to check it out after I obtain it. I do not suggest you purchase the Freedom Telephone at the moment. I contacted Freedom Telephone and Finman for remark and to get extra details about the cellphone. 

What’s the Freedom Telephone?

It is a new cellphone that guarantees to guard your privateness and permit free speech with out censorship throughout the system. In his promotional video, Finman says that the Freedom Telephone “does all the things your present cellphone does besides censor you or spy on you.” He says it is corresponding to the perfect smartphones in the marketplace. The Freedom Phone’s specs will not be corresponding to the specs of the perfect telephones. At finest, a few of the specs are corresponding to the $200 Moto G Play or the $250 Moto G Energy. Each of these telephones have a large 5,000-mAh battery. The scale of the Freedom Telephone’s battery is unknown.

Finman goes on to state that everybody is complaining about “Large Tech censorship” however nobody is doing something about it. On display 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 publish is dated Nov. 5, 2013. 

What number of Freedom Telephones are there?

There may be the unique Freedom Telephone and apparently a brand new model that comes out in three months’ time. 

Does the Freedom Telephone really work?

We do not know. Within the launch video, the cellphone stays powered off your entire time. That might point out that the software program is not prepared for viewing. We requested Freedom Telephone for extra particulars.

Why is the Freedom Telephone controversial?

Any time a handset vendor makes claims a few cellphone’s options, it falls to the corporate to display and clarify how these options work. The Freedom Telephone’s web site, launch video and Finman’s posts on Twitter give few particulars in regards to the cellphone 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 cellphone deliberate with a completely new OS is a large crimson flag.

How a lot does the Freedom Telephone value?

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

Learn extra: Greatest telephones beneath $500 in 2021

Is the Freedom Telephone only a rebranded $120 Chinese language Android cellphone?

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

Matthew Hickey, a cybersecurity knowledgeable who co-founded Hacker House, instructed the Daily Dot that the Freedom Telephone is a Chinese language cellphone referred to as the Umidigi A9 Professional that may be purchased from AliExpress for as little as $119. He mentioned 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 associate in Hong Kong to make a cellphone that’s customized.”

Ought to I purchase a Freedom Telephone?

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

Is the Freedom Telephone a rip-off?

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

What makes the Freedom Telephone safe?

The primary Freedom Telephone 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 cellphone’s Freedom OS has a safety privateness guard referred to as Belief.

“With highly effective instruments equivalent to Belief, you might be answerable for what your apps can do everytime you need. Belief will aid you perceive the safety of your system and warn you about potential threats.”

We’ve by no means heard of Belief. It is perhaps one thing Finman’s group 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 Large Tech firm Google makes Android.)

Google ceaselessly updates Android with software program upgrades and safety patches, which this cellphone possible would not get.

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

What makes the Freedom Telephone ‘uncensorable’?

The web site says the Freedom Telephone 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 in opposition to illicit prison exercise, hate speech, graphic and sexual materials or pedophilia. Is the PatriApp retailer principally just like the 4chan of app shops?

It additionally is not clear how the cellphone 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 Telephone has acquired clearance from the Federal Communications Fee.

Which carriers does the Freedom Telephone work on?

The Freedom Telephone web site states it would work with “Verizon, AT&T, T-Cell & Dash, and all different home and worldwide carriers.” (In 2020, T-Cell formally closed its $26.5 billion merger with Dash.)

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

How does the Freedom Telephone defend in opposition to provider monitoring?

It is unclear, and the problem is not addressed on the Freedom Telephone web site.

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

That is additionally unclear. In Finman’s promo video, the time period Large 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 Telephone?

The Freedom Telephone is obtainable to order now. We strongly suggest you do not order it.

When does the Freedom Telephone ship?

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

The place can you purchase a Freedom Telephone?

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

What apps does the Freedom Telephone run?

The web site reveals icons for Parler, NewsMax, OANN, Rumble, the DuckDuckGo net browser and Telegram encrypted messaging. However it’s unclear if will probably 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 Telephone ‘corresponding to the perfect smartphones’ as Finman claims?

We’ve sturdy doubts. The design proven within the video appears to be like like dozens of finances Android telephones we have seen through the years. It would not look high-end. The display has a teardrop cutout for the selfie digital camera, 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 Telephone’s will not be on par with specs from the finest smartphones just like the iPhone 12 or Galaxy S21. The Freedom Telephone has some specs that match as much as finances telephones just like the $200 Moto G Play and $250 Moto G Energy, although the Moto telephones have further options like Turbo Charging.

What are the specs for the Freedom Telephone?

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

At finest, the Freedom Telephone’s {hardware} specs put it barely on the identical degree with a $200-$250 finances cellphone. Necessary particulars about the kind of processor (Qualcomm or MediaTek) in addition to the battery dimension are disregarded. There are three rear cameras, however apart from the decision of the sensors, info concerning cameras is absent, equivalent to if one is ultrawide or a depth sensor.

Curiously, the Freedom Telephone has NFC, which implies it may have the ability to use wi-fi funds like Google Pay. However since Google is a part of Large 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 cellphone or for on-line procuring. See how the Freedom Telephone’s specs stack up in opposition to some 2021 finances telephones beneath.

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

Freedom Telephone Umidigi A9 Professional Motorola Moto G Play (2021) Motorola Moto G Energy (2021)
Show dimension, 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
Digital camera 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 digital camera 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 protector, 10W quick charging, digital infrared thermometer, customizable {hardware} shortcut key, dual-SIM card (each bodily), 10W speedy charging, spot coloration images 15W turbo charging, EIS, FM radio, spot coloration images and video
Worth off-contract (USD) $500 $120 $200 $250 (64GB); $200 (32GB

Who owns Freedom Telephone?

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

Who’s Freedom Telephone’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 value greater than $1 million. In 2017, he founded the education startup Botangle. In 2019, he invested in a cryptocurrency firm referred to as Metal Pay to be a competitor to Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency (now referred to as Diem).

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