Freedom Telephone: The ‘final political device’ and why you need to keep away from it

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

The Freedom Telephone is a brand new “free speech and privateness first” handset unveiled in July that is elevating pink flags with journalists and safety consultants, 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 Instances 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 the rest. You may assume that the Freedom Telephone follows the development of phone-makers like Apple that use software program updates to make it more durable for corporations to trace you. Finman’s preliminary announcement for the Freedom Telephone was adopted swiftly by safety issues raised by quite a few publications and privateness consultants.

The Freedom Telephone and its politically conservative branding will enchantment to many, however there may be nothing to recommend that the cellphone, its privateness claims or avoidance of Large Tech work the best way Finman suggests. The cellphone raises plenty of pink flags regardless of its maker wanting you to see nothing greater than pink, white and blue. The Freedom Telephone contradicts Finman’s hype and it makes me surprise if he’s being solely forthright with patrons.

On Aug. 9, Finman posted to Twitter an image of a stack of FedEx packing 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 had been delivery.


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

If you happen to’re searching for a cellphone that protects your privateness, look elsewhere. The Freedom Telephone raises plenty of pink flags. Initially the cellphone was alleged 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 Large Tech. Within the announcement video, Finman exhibits off a cellphone that’s powered off and appears much like a finances Chinese language cellphone 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 relies on Android 10, made by the Large Tech firm Google. The brand new telephones can have higher {hardware}, safety and a ClearCellular emblem on the again.

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

The primary specs and technical particulars put the Freedom Telephone practically on par with a $200 finances Android cellphone. Regardless of Finman claiming that the Freedom Telephone is similar to one of the best smartphones, its {hardware} does not come near premium telephones just like the Galaxy S21 Extremely or iPhone 12 Professional Max. On paper, it does not even appear similar to one of the best 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 isn’t clear whether or not the fashions that shipped in August will probably 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 alleged 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 an excellent signal.

Learn extra: 5G myths, debunked

There 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 Telephone, or the brand new model that is due out in November. This can be a pink flag. The cellphone is marketed solely on its politically conservative branding and looks like nothing greater than a savvy entrepreneur trying to earn money from conservatives pissed off 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 advocate you purchase the Freedom Telephone right now. 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 machine. In his promotional video, Finman says that the Freedom Telephone “does every little thing your present cellphone does besides censor you or spy on you.” He says it is similar to one of the best smartphones in the marketplace. The Freedom Telephone’s specs should not similar to the specs of one of the best telephones. At greatest, among the specs are similar to the $200 Moto G Play or the $250 Moto G Energy. Each of these telephones have a large 5,000-mAh battery. The dimensions 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 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 tackle whose final publish is dated Nov. 5, 2013. 

What number of Freedom Telephones are there?

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

Does the Freedom Telephone truly 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 reveal 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 wholly new OS is a large pink 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 truly made by a Chinese language firm known as Umidigi that is primarily based in Shenzhen. In an interview with The Each day Beast, Finman confirmed that Umidigi made the Freedom Telephone however did not specify which Umidigi cellphone design is used.

Matthew Hickey, a cybersecurity professional who co-founded Hacker Home, instructed the Each day Dot that the Freedom Telephone is a Chinese language cellphone known as the Umidigi A9 Professional that may be purchased from AliExpress for as little as $119. He mentioned that the A9 Professional is offered 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 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 grow to be true, it is best to attend till units 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 similar to one of the best cellphone in the marketplace. The truth that he’s releasing a wholly new model of the Freedom Telephone simply months after the preliminary one shipped is not an excellent signal both. Whereas I am unable to outright name it a rip-off, I might 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 monitor 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 Belief.

“With highly effective instruments corresponding to Belief, you’re accountable for what your apps can do everytime you need. Belief will enable you to perceive the safety of your machine and warn you about doable threats.”

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

Google continuously updates Android with software program upgrades and safety patches, which this cellphone doubtless 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 towards illicit felony 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 Telephone has acquired clearance from the Federal Communications Fee.

Which carriers does the Freedom Telephone work on?

The Freedom Telephone web site states it can 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 towards service monitoring?

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

If the Freedom Telephone avoids Large Tech, why does it work on all the 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 offered to order now. We strongly advocate 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 anticipated 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 exhibits 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, relationship apps like Tinder or Grindr, or video video games.

Is the Freedom Telephone ‘similar to one of the best smartphones’ as Finman claims?

We’ve got sturdy doubts. The design proven within the video appears 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 digital camera, which is a design selection many Android telephones had three years in the past.

From the specs which can be shared, it is clear that the Freedom Telephone’s should not on par with specs from the greatest 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, despite the fact that the Moto telephones have further options like Turbo Charging.

What are the specs for the Freedom Telephone?

It has a 6-inch display screen that Finman says is edge-to-edge. Within the video, he by no means exhibits 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,” “similar to one of the best smartphones in the marketplace” and a “tremendous quick processor,” however the specs shared inform a distinct story.

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

Curiously, the Freedom Telephone has NFC, which implies it might be capable of use wi-fi funds like Google Pay. However since Google is a part of Large Tech I am unsure 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 towards some 2021 finances telephones under.

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 screen 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
Value off-contract (USD) $500 $120 $200 $250 (64GB); $200 (32GB

Who owns Freedom Telephone?

In keeping with its web site, 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, 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 Steel Pay to be a competitor to Fb’s Libra cryptocurrency (now known as Diem).

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