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

    The Freedom Phone is a brand new “free speech and privacy first” handset unveiled in July that is elevating crimson flags with journalists and safety specialists, who say it is only a rebranded finances Chinese Android cellphone. 
    Freedom Phone/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 ultimate political tools. Everyone has one in their pocket.” His model new Freedom Phone guarantees to prioritize “free speech and privacy”above anything. You would possibly assume that the Freedom Phone 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 Phone was adopted swiftly by safety considerations raised by quite a few publications and privateness specialists.The Freedom Phone 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 Big Tech work the way in which Finman suggests. The cellphone raises various crimson flags regardless of its maker wanting you to see nothing greater than crimson, white and blue. The Freedom Phone contradicts Finman’s hype and it makes me surprise if he’s being fully forthright with patrons.On Aug. 9, Finman posted to Twitter an image of a stack of FedEx bins with the caption, “It’s shipping time.” The tweet was posted utilizing Twitter for iPhone.Eric Finman posted a tweet utilizing Twitter for iPhone to announce that the primary batch of Freedom Phones had been transport.
    The web site for the Freedom Phone has been overhauled because it launched. The 10 totally different “buy” buttons had been lowered to 3, together with the power to make use of Apple Pay, which is curious, due to Finman’s outspoken opposition to Big Tech corporations. The web site states, “Not just making America great. But also making a great phone.” The Freedom Phone seems to be extra curious about political rhetoric than technical improvements.
    If you are in search of a cellphone that protects your privateness, look elsewhere. The Freedom Phone raises a whole lot of crimson flags. Initially the cellphone 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 function apps banned by Big Tech. In the announcement video, Finman reveals off a cellphone that’s powered off and appears just like a finances Chinese cellphone that sells for one-quarter of the Freedom Phone’s $500 worth.On Aug. 26, Finman introduced a partnership with ClearCellular, which runs on AT&T and T-Mobile networks within the US. Future fashions of the Freedom Phone will run ClearOS Mobile, which is predicated on Android 10, made by the Big Tech firm Google. The new telephones can have higher {hardware}, safety and a ClearCellular emblem on the again.

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    In a publish on Twitter, Finman wrote, “We designed the original version great, but now we’re making it 10x better. That means stronger security, tighter privacy, and better hardware.”The primary specs and technical particulars put the Freedom Phone almost on par with a $200 finances Android cellphone. Despite Finman claiming that the Freedom Phone is corresponding to the perfect smartphones, its {hardware} does not come near premium telephones just like the Galaxy S21 Ultra or iPhone 12 Pro Max. On paper, it does not even appear corresponding to the perfect finances telephones. There are not any particulars in regards to the new model of the Freedom Phone that comes out in November or what makes it “10x better.”It’s 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 transferring ahead. Also, if the unique cellphone and OS was imagined to be sturdy, what makes the brand new OS have stronger safety and privateness options? No matter what your politics are, this is not an excellent signal.Read extra: 5G myths, debunkedThere is not a lot details about how any of the software program privateness and free speech options truly work on the August model of the Freedom Phone, or the brand new model that is due out in November. This 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 become profitable from conservatives annoyed with Facebook and Twitter banning former President Donald Trump.I additionally ordered a Freedom Phone for testing, however had my order canceled. I positioned one other order and hope to try it out once I obtain it. I do not suggest you purchase the Freedom Phone presently. I contacted Freedom Phone and Finman for remark and to get extra details about the cellphone. What is the Freedom Phone?It’s a brand new cellphone that guarantees to guard your privateness and permit free speech with out censorship throughout the gadget. In his promotional video, Finman says that the Freedom Phone “does everything your current phone does except censor you or spy on you.” He says it is corresponding to the perfect smartphones available on the market. The Freedom Phone’s specs should not 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 Power. Both of these telephones have an enormous 5,000-mAh battery. The dimension of the Freedom Phone’s battery is unknown.Finman goes on to state that everybody is complaining about “Big 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 person “@twitteruser” that reads, “BUILD YOUR OWN PHONE!” To which Finman replies, “So, I did.” The Twitter account proven is an actual handle whose final publish is dated Nov. 5, 2013. How many Freedom Phones are there?There is the unique Freedom Phone and apparently a brand new model that comes out in three months’ time. Does the Freedom Phone truly work?We do not know. In the launch video, the cellphone stays powered off the complete time. That might point out that the software program is not prepared for viewing. We requested Freedom Phone for extra particulars.Why is the Freedom Phone controversial?Any time a handset vendor makes claims a couple of cellphone’s options, it falls to the corporate to display and clarify how these options work. The Freedom Phone’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 proven fact 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 Phone price?It’s listed at $500. That’s the identical worth as a Galaxy A52 5G, a Google Pixel 4A 5G and an iPhone XR. It’s $50 greater than the brand new Google Pixel 5A with 5G. Read extra: Best telephones below $500 in 2021Is the Freedom Phone only a rebranded $120 Chinese Android cellphone?The Freedom Phone has the tagline: “Made for conservatives by conservatives.” Turns out it is truly made by a Chinese firm known as Umidigi that is primarily based in Shenzhen. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Finman confirmed that Umidigi made the Freedom Phone however did not specify which Umidigi cellphone design is used.Matthew Hickey, a cybersecurity knowledgeable who co-founded Hacker House, informed the Daily Dot that the Freedom Phone is a Chinese cellphone known as the Umidigi A9 Pro that may be purchased from AliExpress for as little as $119. He mentioned that the A9 Pro is offered in bulk with customized logos and branding.In a tweet, Finman wrote, “We designed this between my design lab and our partner in Hong Kong to make a phone that is custom.”Should I purchase a Freedom Phone?No. Even if all of Finman’s claims in regards to the Freedom Phone turn into true, it is best to attend till units can be found to check the corporate’s claims.Is the Freedom Phone a rip-off?Finman hasn’t defined how the cellphone works, or the way it protects your privateness or free speech. Despite the claims to date, the Freedom Phone’s primary technical particulars do not match the claims Finman made about it being corresponding to the perfect cellphone available on the market. The truth that he’s releasing a completely new model of the Freedom Phone simply months after the preliminary one shipped is not an excellent signal both. While I am unable to outright name it a rip-off, I’d method this handset with warning till it is accessible for testing. What makes the Freedom Phone safe?The first Freedom Phone runs on Freedom OS. Finman says that it will not observe your apps, your keystrokes or your location, however he does not clarify how. The cellphone’s Freedom OS has a safety privateness guard known as Trust.”With powerful tools such as Trust, you are in control of what your apps can do whenever you want. Trust will help you understand the security of your device and warn you about possible threats.”We have by no means heard of Trust. It could be one thing Finman’s staff developed. Again, there are no 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 Big Tech firm Google makes Android.)Google incessantly updates Android with software program upgrades and safety patches, which this cellphone doubtless would not get.An upcoming new model of the Freedom Phone will run ClearOS Mobile, which is constructed on Android 10. What makes the Freedom Phone ‘uncensorable’?The web site says the Freedom Phone has an “uncensorable” PatriApp retailer providing apps banned by the Google Play Store and iOS App Store. 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 mainly 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 units. We do not know if the Freedom Phone has obtained clearance from the Federal Communications Commission.Which carriers does the Freedom Phone work on?The Freedom Phone web site states it should work with “Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile & Sprint, and all other domestic and international carriers.” (In 2020, T-Mobile formally 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-Mobile.How does the Freedom Phone defend in opposition to service monitoring?It’s unclear, and the difficulty is not addressed on the Freedom Phone web site.If the Freedom Phone avoids Big Tech, why does it work on all the main US carriers?This can be unclear. In Finman’s promo video, the time period Big Tech is basically used within the context of Twitter and Facebook 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 Phone?The Freedom Phone is obtainable to order now. We strongly suggest you do not order it.When does the Freedom Phone ship?The unique Freedom Phone shipped in August. A second batch will ship in October. The new model of the Freedom Phone is anticipated to ship in November.Where can you purchase a Freedom Phone?At this time, solely on the Freedom Phone web site.What apps does the Freedom Phone run?The web site reveals icons for Parler, NewsMax, OANN, Rumble, the DuckDuckGo net browser and Telegram encrypted messaging. But it is unclear if it will likely be in a position to run productiveness apps like Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat, social media apps like TikTookay or Snapchat, courting apps like Tinder or Grindr, or video video games.Is the Freedom Phone ‘corresponding to the perfect smartphones’ as Finman claims?We have 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 does 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 Phone’s should not on par with specs from the finest smartphones just like the iPhone 12 or Galaxy S21. The Freedom Phone has some specs that match as much as finances telephones just like the $200 Moto G Play and $250 Moto G Power, despite the fact that the Moto telephones have extra options like Turbo Charging.What are the specs for the Freedom Phone?It has a 6-inch display screen that Finman says is edge-to-edge. In the video, he by no means reveals the show powered on working Freedom OS. Photos present a dual-SIM card tray with a spot for expandable storage. Finman says issues like “great camera,” “comparable to the best smartphones on the market” and a “super fast processor,” however the specs shared inform a unique story.At finest, the Freedom Phone’s {hardware} specs put it barely on the identical degree with a $200-$250 finances cellphone. Important particulars about the kind of processor (Qualcomm or MediaTek) in addition to the battery dimension are omitted. There are three rear cameras, however other than the decision of the sensors, data concerning cameras is absent, resembling if one is ultrawide or a depth sensor.Curiously, the Freedom Phone has NFC, which suggests it might have the ability to use wi-fi funds like Google Pay. But since Google is a part of Big Tech I’m undecided what, if any, wi-fi funds could 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 buying. See how the Freedom Phone’s specs stack up in opposition to some 2021 finances telephones under.Freedom Phone specs vs. Umidigi A9 Pro, Motorola Moto G Play, Motorola Moto G Power

    Freedom Phone

    Umidigi A9 Pro

    Motorola Moto G Play (2021)

    Motorola Moto G Power (2021)

    Display 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





    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



    Weight (Ounces, Grams)

    5.64 oz; 160g

    7.23 oz; 205g

    7.2 oz; 204g

    7.28 oz; 206.5g

    Mobile software program

    Freedom OS or ClearOS Mobile (Android 10)

    Android 10

    Android 10

    Android 10


    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)

    Front-facing digicam





    Video seize






    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











    Expandable storage

    Up to 256GB

    Up to 256GB

    Up to 512GB

    Up to 512GB


    4,000 mAh

    4,150 mAh

    5,000 mAh

    5,000 mAh

    Fingerprint sensor










    Headphone jack





    Special 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 photographs

    15W turbo charging, EIS, FM radio, spot colour photographs and video

    Price off-contract (USD)




    $250 (64GB); $200 (32GB

    Who owns Freedom Phone?According to its web site, Freedom Phone is owned by Finman, LLC, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Eric Finman is listed as the corporate’s agent and organizer.Who is Freedom Phone’s billionaire founder Erik Finman?Finman grew up in Idaho. In 2013, on the age of 14 he reportedly purchased 100 Bitcoin for $1,000, which, by the point he was 20, was value greater than $1 million. In 2017, he based the training 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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