Freedom of expression is important. Privacy is important. Both are vital to a healthy society and a healthy internet. Making sure we can do what we want with the technology we buy without our data being tracked or sold is one of the biggest problems facing the technology world today. It’s an ongoing problem and battle, and everyone should work hard to know and protect their rights both online and on their devices.
On a completely different topic, the Freedom phone looks like a colossal grudge taking advantage of people who are technically illiterate and legally ignorant. It smells like a massive, cynical scam that aims to overwhelm customers by at least 400% while taking advantage of their lack of understanding of how phones, the internet, and freedom of expression work.
I’m going to pause here so you can scroll down and comment furiously. It’s okay i’m waiting
Ready to move on? Well.
Personal politics aside, this favorite project of the “youngest Bitcoin millionaire in the world” does not seem to offer anything that another Android phone cannot already do, just with a feigned “freedom” and the assumption that its users have no idea what it means to Sideload an app. Whatever you believe and how you choose, it really looks like the Freedom Phone is designed to take cynical advantage of you.
One note before we get into that: these observations are all based on what has been revealed about the Freedom Phone and what we can find out about its details. We could easily turn out to be wrong and it could turn out to be a revolutionary privacy protection tool that has good value too. However, what we’ve seen so far shows that it looks like a big, politically predatory rip-off.
Large warning sign: No specifications
Pictured: Freedom Phone
Let’s start with a purely technical, consumer-centric point of view. The Freedom Phone seems to have absolutely no specs. Basic things like CPU, storage capacity, screen resolution, and cellular bands just aren’t published anywhere on the website Freedom Phone website. According to a press release on the Freedom Phone, it has a 6-inch screen and 128 GB of storage. That’s all the details we’ve seen (and the March press release shows another phone model photo, so even those details could be wrong).
If you’re spending $ 500 on a phone, you should know what’s going on in it. Period. You don’t need to understand all of the specifications, but the information should be disclosed.
Pictured: Not Freedom Phone
As it stands, the Freedom Phone just seems to be one Chinese Android phone in bulk with a bright UI skin thrown over the Android operating system (see below). Specifically, it appears to be the Umidigi A9 Pro, which is available for $ 156 on AliExpress.com and can be purchased in bulk at Alibaba for $ 118 to $ 135 per phone. The notch fits, the side buttons fit, the camera stack fits, everything indicates that this is actually this phone. One that you can buy for just over a quarter the price with raw Android.
FreedomOS: Android for the ignorant
That mention of raw Android brings us to the great appeal of the Freedom Phone: FreedomOS and its overwhelming freedom. Yes it is Android. It’s Android with a skin on top. Check out one of the few pictures of what the operating system looks like on the phone. Android standard app icons. Android navigation buttons on the bottom. Android status icons on top. It’s Android.
Perhaps FreedomOS is really removing some of the tracking that Android can do and has features that protect your privacy. The problem is, Freedom Phone doesn’t really explain how to do it, and there doesn’t seem to be anything the phone can do from restricting tracking to adding “prohibited” apps that you can’t already do with Android do. As much as you may complain about Google’s handling of personal data or the management of its app store (and there are many legitimate complaints about both), Android is basically an open source operating system that runs on an almost universal kernel based. That means you can basically do anything.
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Is your favorite service “censored” on the Google Play Store? You can get it onto your phone pretty easily if you have the APK file (and regardless of what Freedom Phone might suggest, conservative news sources like Newsmax and OAN are available on the Google Play Store along with Telegram and Rumble). Worried about your data being tracked? Download some privacy-conscious apps like a encrypted email client, a encrypted browser, and a VPN on it (these are also available from the Google Play Store so you don’t have to bother with sideloading). There’s nothing the Freedom Phone can’t do that you can’t do with Android, so you’re basically spending $ 500 to get Parler pre-installed. That’s it. Also, Parlers has its own website shortcut Just download the APK straight to your phone so it’s easier to load than most sideloading.
Guess what? If you use cellular networks at all, especially with data and GPS services, that is understandable. So basically. This is how the technology works, and nothing can actually prevent telemetry and bandwidth from at least being seen by your carrier.
The price of freedom
If you don’t know how to sideload an app or set up and use encryption on your phone, the Freedom Phone might seem appealing. But at this point it really begs the question of how much your freedom and privacy is really worth to you personally.
Ready to spend $ 500 on a phone that claims to offer it? OK. Is it worth doing the work learning how to hide your digital footprint and download unlisted apps onto your phone? Because that’s what can really protect your rights. Learn how encryption works. Learn how to sideload “censored” apps. Teach yourself how to do these things because whatever your policy is, it is this knowledge that is actually useful in ensuring your freedoms. Don’t rely on a renamed mystery phone with vague promises about what it can do for you. Keep educating yourself and you will be able to do anything the Freedom Phone claims to be able to do any Android phone. There are some great for much, much less than the Freedom Phone and you can actually find out their specs.
Don’t be fooled by waving flags and empty rhetoric into paying too much money for a cheap phone with an Android skin. Above all, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can just toss someone cash and they’ll protect your rights. This way of thinking is appealing because it is easy and simple. This type of thinking will also keep you from actively educating yourself and learning how to do it indeed protect your rights. Why should you be satisfied with that?