Here’s a fun fact for you: Toyota designs their Lexus and Toyota logos to be the same size; it’s so they can easily swap the designs. Yes, a Lexus will be nicer, but why design two different steering wheels if the same dimensions can work for both brands? At the same time, you’d probably feel pretty dumb and angry if you bought a Lexus from a dealer only to discover they had charged you Lexus prices for an old Corolla with a Lexus badge. And if that sounds far-fetched, well, just ask anyone who was suckered into buying a Freedom Phone!
What’s a Freedom Phone, you ask? Well, there’s the marketing answer, and then there’s the real answer. Erik Finman, the guy behind Freedom Phone and its marketing says it’s a phone that is “free from censorship.” It has several preinstalled apps that cater to a specific political viewpoint, including Parler, One America News, Signal, and Newsmax preinstalled.
It also runs something called “Freedom OS,” which is apparently a generic rebrand of non-Google-controlled Android. So you get free apps already available on every other platform plus an open-source OS that may or may not get updated, all for the low price of $499.99.
Sticking it to the man with the Freedom Phone!
Although, you might want to check which “man” you’re sticking it to because most of the tech world immediately clocked the Freedom Phone as a rebrand of a Chinese phone called the Umidigi A9 Pro, which can be found for around $120. Even with some under-the-hood improvements, $500 is a lot to ask for the convenience of a few pre-installed apps. I’m not even going to take a potshot at anyone who would need to pay for that convenience because that’s almost too easy.
The Freedom Phone people have admitted Umidigi is involved in phone manufacturing, but that the Freedom Phone is made in Hong Kong, not mainland China. First of all, as Daily Beast points out, the Umidigi phones are made in Shenzen, which is most definitely in mainland China. Second of all, it has become increasingly clear that any autonomy Hong Kong has enjoyed is under significant pressure right now.
Finally, don’t forget the pressure and eventually pull-back from Huawei by many countries, all because there was significant concern that they might be forced by the Chinese government to provide any and all information they gathered. But hey, I’m sure that a phone made by a Shenzen-based company wouldn’t be subject to the same security laws as their much bigger competitor.
So great job, Freedom Phone. You’ve successfully pushed away Google, a company that most definitely steals your data but is open about that and likely is using it to predict when you want a pizza. Instead, you’re handing it over to a communist government that definitely wouldn’t try to use your data to learn more about political unrest in a rival nation. But hey, now Google won’t know when you need a new pair of sneakers!