What is the Freedom Phone? Should you Buy It?

by July 26, 2021 0 comments

Everyone knows a scam when they see one. If you think you are aware of all the dirty scams in the tech world, wait till you see this one. Last week, a 22-year-old Bitcoin millionaire announced the Freedom phone. A smartphone that is free of all the censorship and interference by big tech giants like Facebook. It is also comparable to the best smartphones in the market.

The announcement blew up immediately. It hit the Twitter trending page real fast and everyone was talking about it and insisting people on getting one. This is a $500 smartphone and it has to be good. Not to forget, the last freedom phone that was seen by the people was the Freedom 251. The Freedom 251 was sketchy and no one got their hands on the INR 251 smartphone.

The inspiration behind creating this phone was the January 6, 2021 riots in the US. This is the incident where the Capitol Building was stormed by a bunch of Americans after Donald Trump had lost the elections. Most of the writing about this was taking place of Parler, a free speech app. After everything happened, Google and Apple removed the app from their stores, and this is what gave Eric the confidence and the idea of bringing in the phone.

Eric’s point of view comes from the belief that everyone should be able to say what they want and where they want. So he created a phone that allows him to do that. For someone who is not much into tech, this phone might look like a normal, regular phone but do you actually get more freedom with this phone.

Freedom OS

The entire pitch of the phone rests on the new OS called the Freedom OS. This is android, but with some obvious tweaks and changes. Snooping apps like Google Chrome have been taken out and replaced with non-snooping apps like DuckDuckGo. There are a few apps that Google has censored that can be found on the store, called PatriApp. The main highlighting message that is given out with the phone is that it does everything your current phone does apart from censoring you.

The Problem

The claims made by the company and the founder seem fascinating and promising, but there is no way to verify all these claims. There is no information about the camera, battery or processor of the phone on the website. There is only a “buy it now” button under every feature mention on the phone. The Freedom OS also looks very similar to a pre-existing OS called the Lineage OS.

Eric’s journey started off as a gamble when he convinced his parents to let him skip school if he can turn $1000 into $1 million dollars via investment. He invested the money in Bitcoin, and the cryptocurrency blew up. This makes Eric someone with no technical knowledge. If the claims about building a new OS are true, then it opens the gates to a number of more security concerns.

The main concern revolves around regular updates. Security is extremely important on any smartphone, and updates play a major role in that. If you are not getting those updates, then having an app store that has no censorship can expose your phone to multiple malware that is present out there. There is no certainty of the security support that you might get from the company. The support that you might get from the company is also very vague, as there is no contact number mentioned and the only email address mentioned does not respond.

Giving people the option of using banned apps is not and should never be a selling point of a phone. If you want to use apps such as Parler on your Google device, and you can not find it on the Play Store, you can always download it from the official website, for free.

Celebrity Endorsement

Ever since the phone was announced, there have been a bunch of high-profile people endorsing the phone as if it is the best thing to come out of humanity after the slice of bread. The endorsement revolves around the argument that it is a phone that has no Apple or Google interference. However, another phone with no Apple or Google interference would be the Nokia 3310. No one is talking about the specs of the phone yet claiming it to be the phone that everyone needs. All these celebrities have their own coupon codes to get the additional discounts, meaning that it is nothing but paid promotion.

The Drawbacks

Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives now. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the security features that it provides. For starters, the phone does not come with facial recognition. It might sound foolish to a number of people because that is one feature that can be turned off. it might be important for some consumers to have that feature available. There must be multiple other things that the phone would not let you do but since the spec-sheet of the phone is not out yet, nothing can be said.

Why Is It a Scam?

This is an America-first phone. The whole point of the phone is to keep you from being spied on. Even the logo is inspired by the American flag. However, the phone is actually built by a small company in China. This is the same country that Donald Trump accused of spying. The ex-President also went on to ban Huawei based on these reasons. In an interview, the founder, Eric, disclosed that the company he was working with was Umidigi. The company is known for their shockingly low price and no attention to security. Moreover, the company already has a phone that looks like the Freedom phone, the A9 Pro. Even the camera module is the same, along with the notch and the buttons.

So when the founder said that he has worked closely with Umdigi, he meant that they bought a bunch of Umidigi phones from Alibaba and rebranded them as the Freedom phone. The Umidigi A9 Pro is not even a current phone. it is a phone from 2020 with the MediaTek Helio P60 which is vulnerable to authentication bypass attacks.

It does not look like a product that someone might need to protect their privacy, but a product that creates a need in the eye of a less tech-savvy person. This is not a phone anyone should go for, especially people who are concerned about their phones. Normal smartphones are good enough, and they know what needs to be there and what needs to be discarded.

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