You may have come across ads or articles about it, and the website selling the free speech-oriented Freedom Phone claims that it has “large Storage, 6-inch screen, great Camera,” and is “affordable, yet fast.”
Sounds like the Holy Grail of budget phones developed with privacy in mind, especially in light of yesterday’s Pegasus spyware revelations, right? On it, the founders have loaded a couple of freely available alternative apps like DuckDuckGo for search and Rumble for socially connecting with like-minded people, as well as a few shortcuts to conservative outlets like OAN or Newsmax.
That is, of course, not deemed enough to call its overlay the bombastic Freedom OS and place a buy button below each and every one of its features listing. Oh, no, it also offers “Uncensorable App Store.” Before you think that this is a hacked iOS application shop, it’s actually “our own app store.”
We’d bet it’s one of those alternative to Google Play Store places like APKPure or APKMirror that allow you to sideload apps that are georestricted or not available in the official store for various reasons, as well as older versions of existing apps.
The all-important privacy guards? Well, they are taken care of by Trust whose icon looks suspiciously like the one of the crypto and bitcoin wallet app over at the Play Store. Makes sense, given that the creator of the aptly named Freedom Phone is Eric Finnman, a guy that bought 100 Bitcoins with Christmas money when they went for ten bucks and later sold when the price exploded, which apparently has lodged in his head the notion that he is a genius entrepreneur.
Freedom Phone founder as a young crypto millionaire
He is, if you call get-rich-quick schemes like the Freedom Phone entrepreneurship, but, hey, it’s the free market at play, and playing on people’s fears and disdain about the “Big Tech” boogeyman du jour is par for the course. Oh, not to mention that the “Freedom Phone” is a budget Chinese device by Umidigi with the potential to be a security nightmare, according to cyber specialist Matthew Hickey:
Based on photographs from the company website a number of Internet sleuths identified that the device has the same form-factor, shape, and appearance of a Umidigi A9 Pro. This device is a drop-shipped customizable Android-based phone that can be ordered from ASIAPAC region and customized to a project’s requirements… bought and shipped in bulk with custom logos and branding so as to give the appearance of a phone that has been designed for a unique purpose but is actually just a common cheap Android-based smartphone with core components produced in Taiwan and the surrounding areas.
Eric has himself confirmed that the Freedom Phones is an Umidigi something but he doesn’t remember exactly which model, perhaps not to shine a light on the fact that these cost a hundred and he is selling them at five times that with a few interface tweaks and freely available apps preloaded.
In short, if you are into the market for a secure phone that will allow you to live in your own confirmation bias bubble, there are much better options out there designed by people who know that real privacy needs hard work rather than a website, cheapo Android, and the right slogans with the American flag plastered as a wallpaper.
Oh, and for support – you can return it… unless you’ve opened it, you can replace it if it broke… at the repair shops of Umidigi if you find one, and as for warranty? 90 days to flaunt your conservative cred at the table with a peace of mind.