A new smartphone is making waves among Trump supporters. This week, a 22-year-old self-described Bitcoin millionaire introduced the Freedom Phone, a $ 499 device that should be completely free of “Big Tech’s” censorship and influence.
But it turns out that the same smartphone is actually from China, and probably just a cheap knock-off.
Freedom Phone comes from Erik Finman, who unveiled the device earlier this week. He claims that the product has everything Trump supporters could dream of, including an “uncensored” app store, pre-installed conservative friendly apps, including Parler and Rumble, and even its own anti-surveillance system called FreedomOS.
“There is no app tracking, no keyboard tracking and no location tracking because I believe in your security,”
The product quickly gained support from Trump supporters, including political commentator Candace Owens. On the other hand, The Daily Beast noticed that Freedom Phone looks strikingly like a budget smartphone device from a Chinese supplier called Umidigi.
The device is called the Umidigi A9 pro, and you can actually buy it over at the Chinese e-commerce site AliExpress from $ 119.
Freedom Phone (left) compared to the Umidigi A9 pro
Finman told later The Daily Beast that Freedom Phone was actually sourced from Umidigi, a company based in Shenzhen, China. It’s not a great look, given the “America First” attitude among Pro-Trump supporters.
Hiring a Chinese supplier to build the device is also ironic, since Freedom Phone promises to be free of Big Tech’s influence and censorship. China has gained a notorious reputation for suppressing online dissent and sponsoring computer hacks to spy on the US government and the private sector. Fear of security has prompted the United States to ban certain Chinese companies, such as Huawei and ZTE, from the US supply chain.
In response, Finman said he had no choice but to pick up the phone from China. “We designed this between my design lab and our partner in Hong Kong to create a custom phone,” he claimed in a tweet on Friday. “Unfortunately, it is impossible to build a phone in the United States from top to bottom. Motorola tried to put billions of dollars into it, right now it is impossible.”
We designed this between my design lab and our partner in Hong Kong to create a customized phone.
Impossible to build phone in the US from top to bottom unfortunately. Motorola tried to put billions of dollars into it, right now it’s impossible: https: //t.co/nr1yoeQCrz
– ERIK FINMAN (@erikfinman) July 16, 2021
Finman is right that many consumer electronics, including Apple’s iPhone, are made in China. Nevertheless, he also makes big promises with Freedom Phone that does not go down, especially on the security front.
So far, Finman has not yet released technical specifications for the product. But an uncensored app store allows hackers and shady developers to circulate malicious software and data collection programs to users. We also doubt that Freedom Phone has its own operating system if it can run apps like Parler and Rumble, in addition to Signal, Telegram and Brave. Your phone is more likely to use only a customized version of Google’s Android.
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But if the phone really uses a custom operating system, we hope it is safe. Both Apple and Google spend significant resources on routinely plugging in vulnerabilities in iOS and Android. Finman must do the same to prevent hackers from using their own software.
The second problem is quality: Do gloomy Trump supporters really want an untested phone from a little-known Chinese manufacturer? At least Finman sees an opportunity to make money.