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Freedom Phone Promises Privacy and Security But Offers Neither

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Mixed Signals is a new regular column of Tech Advisor that explores the status of the smartphone today.

Whitewashed in good ol ’red, white and blue in almost every product shot, Freedom Phone is transparent about its potential audience: American patriots who want to attack Silicon Valley and China simultaneously, while protecting their privacy in the process.

The only problem? It’s a nightmare of confidentiality and security that is always done in China, always powered by Google software, and seems positioned to benefit consumers who don’t know it any better.

The Freedom Phone is the brainchild of Erik Finman, who describes himself as “the youngest Bitcoin millionaire in the world,” and says the new phone is part of his efforts to “fight for freedom of expression.” .

U Freedom of Telephone Site it’s great on promises, but light on details, clearly forgetting about detailed specifications – or really all the facts – in favor of persistently pushing purchase links for the $ 499 device.

“Large Storage. 6inch Screen. Large Room. “It’s about everything the site has to say about the phone’s hardware, which is otherwise left to the imagination. Internet uselessness soon realized that the phone is almost certainly a featured Humidigi A9 Pro – an available Chinese phone yes AliExpress from only $ 120.

U Humidigi A9 Pro

Finman claims that the phone is “comparable to the best phones on the market,” which is true as far as I can make a comparison: this is substantially worse than the best phones on the market. The budget Helio P60 chipset, the 10W charge and the basic specifications of the camera reveal this for what it is: a budget phone. Maybe a good value at $ 120, but certainly not at $ 499.

So what does Finman do to justify that $ 380 markup? That will be FreedomOS, “the first mass-marketable mobile phone operating system based on freedom of expression.”

There’s a small explanation of how freedom of speech is embedded in the code base, especially since this is almost certainly running the same Android 10 software built into A9 Pro. Sure, Android is from Google, but it’s open source, that is sort of such as freedom of expression. But wait, isn’t Google part of the Big Tech that Finman fights?

Freedom Phone

Fortunately, Freedom Phone shoppers shouldn’t give Google a penny when they use the phone, since they can bypass the Google Play Store and instead stick to the “uncensored” integrated app store, PatriApp.

“We don’t ban applications,” Finman insists. “Period.”

That might be good news if you want to install Parler, but there are several non-political reasons to ban applications. Does PatriApp ban apps with illegal content? App with child pornography? What about applications loaded with malware and other security threats?

A key part of Freedom Phone’s pitch – and without a doubt a huge appeal to its potential audience – is that it’s a phone that protects your data, protects your privacy, keeps you free from censorship and protected. from Silicon Valley.

There are, no doubt, privacy advantages for a phone that doesn’t come preloaded with Google software, and it’s understandable that there are those who want a smartphone without the widespread influence of the world’s largest technology companies.

But Finman’s Phone Freedom just swaps the devil you know for what you don’t know. Google may have less of your data, but without the latest Android security patches, without a robust and secure app store, without ongoing software support, Freedom Phones owners are certainly more vulnerable to malicious players.

Perhaps the most indicative part of the whole project is the repeated insistence – both on the phone’s launch video and on its website – that it’s quick and easy to transfer your SIM card to the new phone.

Technology-savvy buyers don’t need to be told how to change phones. But Finman isn’t meant for people who understand phones, who know how to value their hardware or software. It is aimed at people who don’t know any better, who don’t understand how their phone does or don’t use their data, who will believe their blatant lies about the quality of the hardware on offer here.

The most embarrassing part of all this debacle is that Freedom Phone doesn’t seem like the best Liberty Notebook on the market.

Before Finman arrived, another company was selling Freedom phones in the website inlaid with stars and stripes already, with similarly grand promises about privacy and security.

Free Phones with GrapheneOS
U
other Freedom Phone, using refurbished Pixel 4 phones

Of course I count on the guarantee of the legitimacy or quality of the operation, but at least on paper Finman clapped his hands. For starters, the hardware they sell is refurbished Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL phones – not Google’s most beautiful flagship phones, to be fair, but a damn better look than a Humidifier.

More importantly, they have replaced Google’s own operating system not with the vague promises of Finman’s FreedomOS, but with the well-regarded open source Android project. GrapheneOS, which diverts Google’s services and incorporates advanced encryption, along with other confidentiality and security features – without leaving vulnerable users vulnerable to an unmanaged app store.

At the end of the day, anyone who is really concerned about the privacy of their phone will benefit more from learning security practices rather than relying on their phone – Freedom or otherwise – to do the work for them.

But it’s hard to imagine a bad phone suited to keeping its promises other than Freedom Phone. It’s anti-Big Tech but works with Google’s OS; it is intended for Chinese skeptics, but the hardware was built here; and will keep you safe by relying on an app store that can be invaded by malware.

I’m not sure if you can put a price on freedom, but $ 499.99 is certainly not.

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