Freedom Telephone: Why it is best to keep away from it and what else to know

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

Freedom Telephone; screenshot by Carrie Mihalcik/CNET

Most of us have an “it is sophisticated” relationship with our telephones with regards to privateness and social media. A brand new handset referred to as the Freedom Telephone guarantees to prioritize “free speech and privateness” above anything. You may assume that the Freedom Telephone follows the development of phone-makers like Apple making it more durable to your information to be shared unwillingly, and for firms to trace you. The web site for the Freedom Telephone, which has no fewer than 10 “purchase” buttons, states, “Not simply making America nice. But in addition making an incredible telephone.” Clearly the Freedom Telephone is saturated in politics.

When you’re searching for a telephone that protects your privateness, look elsewhere. The Freedom Telephone has loads of purple flags. 

In a launch video, self-proclaimed “bitcoin millionaire” Erik Finman, who’s funding the telephone, claims that Freedom OS protects your privateness and has an “uncensorable” app retailer. The PatriApp retailer claims to function apps banned by “Massive Tech.” Within the video, Finman reveals off a telephone that’s powered off and appears just like a price range Chinese language telephone that sells for one-quarter of the Freedom Telephone’s $500 value. He does not share primary specs or technical particulars in regards to the telephone — like if it really works on the quicker 5G information networks each US service is rolling out.

Learn extra: 5G myths, debunked

The Freedom Telephone and its politically conservative branding will attraction to many. However there’s nothing to counsel that the telephone, its privateness claims or avoidance of “Massive Tech” work the way in which Finman suggests. For the reason that announcement, quite a few publications and privateness consultants have raised questions and safety issues in regards to the telephone and whether or not Finman is being totally forthright with potential consumers.

The very fact the telephone is already accessible to order — and that there are extra purchase buttons on the web site than telephone {hardware} specs describing the telephone’s capabilities — are all purple flags. The telephone is marketed totally on its politically conservative branding and looks like nothing greater than a savvy entrepreneur trying to become profitable from conservatives pissed off with Fb and Twitter banning former President Donald Trump. I contacted Freedom Telephone and Finman for remark and to get extra details about the telephone. 

I additionally ordered a Freedom Telephone for testing, however do not advocate you purchase it at the moment.

What’s the Freedom Telephone?

It is a new telephone 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 Telephone “does all the pieces your present telephone does besides censor you or spy on you.” He says it is similar to the very best smartphones in the marketplace. He goes on to state that everybody is complaining about “Massive 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. 

Does the Freedom Telephone 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 Telephone for extra particulars.

Why is the Freedom Telephone controversial?

Any time a handset vendor makes claims a couple of telephone’s options, it falls to the corporate to show 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 telephone or how its protections work. The absence of technical particulars and the truth that the corporate is already accepting cash for preorders heightens our skepticism that the corporate will have the ability to meet these orders in addition to its lofty privateness claims.

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.

Learn extra: The perfect telephones underneath $500 in 2021

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

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 Metropolis. In an interview with The Every day Beast, Finman confirmed that Umidigi made the Freedom Telephone however did not specify which Umidigi telephone design is used.

Matthew Hickey, a cybersecurity skilled who co-founded Hacker Home, advised the Every day Dot that the Freedom Telephone is a Chinese language telephone referred to 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 associate in Hong Kong to make a telephone 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 telephone works, or the way it protects your privateness or free speech. Regardless of the claims thus far, the Freedom Telephone’s primary technical and software program particulars are absent, which provides clients little or no to go on. Whereas I am unable to outright name it a rip-off, I’d strategy this handset with warning till it is accessible for testing. 

What makes the Freedom Telephone safe?

Finman says that the telephone will not monitor your apps, your keystrokes or your location, however he does not clarify how. The telephone’s Freedom OS has a safety privateness guard referred to as Belief.

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

Now we have 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 relies on Android. And only a reminder that “Massive Tech” firm Google makes Android.

Google incessantly updates Android with software program upgrades and safety patches which this telephone doubtless would not get.

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 shield in opposition to illicit legal 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 telephone would deal with technical particulars like IP tracing, web site cookies or different standard monitoring instruments used on telephones and different digital units. We do not know if the Freedom Telephone has obtained clearance from the FCC.

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What carriers does the Freedom Telephone work on?

The Freedom Telephone web site states it’s going to work with “Verizon, AT&T, T-Cell & Dash, and all different home and worldwide carriers.” Itemizing Dash is curious as a result of, in 2020, T-Cell formally closed its $26.5 billion merger with Dash.

How does the Freedom Telephone shield in opposition to service monitoring?

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

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

That is additionally unclear. In Finman’s promo video, “Massive Tech” is essentially used within the context of Twitter and Fb banning former President 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 on the market to preorder now. We strongly advocate you do not order it.

When does the Freedom Telephone ship?

Items of the telephone are stated to reach in August.

The place can you purchase a Freedom Telephone?

Presently, 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 internet 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.

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 reveals the show powered on operating Freedom OS. Photographs present a dual-SIM card tray with a spot for expandable storage. Apart from Finman saying issues like “nice digital camera,””similar to the very best smartphones in the marketplace” and a “tremendous quick processor,” the specs are unknown.

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

Now we have sturdy doubts. The design proven within the video appears to be like like dozens of price range 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.

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 allegedly purchased 100 Bitcoin ($1,000) which, by the point he was 20, was value greater than 1,000,000 {dollars}. In 2017, he based the training startup, Botangle. In 2019, he invested in a cryptocurrency firm referred to as Metallic Pay to be a competitor in opposition to Fb’s upcoming Libra cryptocurrency (now referred to as Diem).

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