MAGA World's 'Freedom Phone' Actually Budget Chinese Phone

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  jbb  •  2 weeks ago  •  53 comments

By:   Will Sommer (The Daily Beast)

MAGA World's 'Freedom Phone' Actually Budget Chinese Phone
MAGA Influencers are pushing a phone preloaded with apps like Parler and Rumble that appears to be a vastly more expensive version of a phone made in China.

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S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



OF COURSE

MAGA Influencers are pushing a phone preloaded with apps like Parler and Rumble that appears to be a vastly more expensive version of a phone made in China.

Will Sommer


Politics Reporter

Updated Jul. 15, 2021 9:15PM ET / Published Jul. 15, 2021 6:37PM ET

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos Getty


The pro-Trump internet went wild on Wednesday for the Freedom Phone, a $500 smartphone that comes stocked with conservative apps and promises to liberate anyone else who buys it from Silicon Valley censorship. The American flag-branded phone was immediately promoted by a wide range of right-wing figures, including former Trump adviser Roger Stone, Jan. 6 rally organizer Ali Alexander, and pundit Dinesh D'Souza.

"I'm holding a freaking phone that is not controlled by Apple or Google," conservative personality Candace Owens told her fans in an Instagram video. "We made the switch immediately."

Despite being lauded by some of the right-wing media's leading figures, though, the Freedom Phone's buyers could be getting less than they expect for its $500 price tag. That's because the Freedom Phone appears to be merely a more expensive rebranding of a budget Chinese phone available elsewhere for a fraction of the Freedom Phone's price.

The Freedom Phone was created by Erik Finman, the self-proclaimed "youngest bitcoin millionaire" and one of Time Magazine's "Most Influential Teens of 2014." In a video announcing the phone, Finman said he was inspired to create the phone after the tech giants' crackdown on both Donald Trump and conservative social media app Parler in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot.

"Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg censored MLK or Abraham Lincoln," Finman said in the video.

Freedom Phone's website is nearly totally devoid of technical information about the device. Finman declares in the promotional video that the Freedom Phone is "comparable to the best smartphones on the market" and "truly is the best phone in the world."

In fact, Freedom Phone appears to be a simple rebranding of a budget phone called the "Umidigi A9 Pro," made by the Chinese tech company Umidigi. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Finman confirmed that the Freedom Phone was manufactured by Umidigi, but couldn't say immediately which Umidigi phone it was based on.

The Freedom Phone's $500 price tag would represent a substantial markup on the Umidigi A9 Pro. That phone is available on Chinese retail giant AliExpress for $120 — less than one quarter of the price of a Freedom Phone.

Asked to justify the Freedom Phone's notable price increase over the Umidigi model, Finman claimed vaguely that the Freedom Phone features customized hardware and improved memory. He committed Wednesday to publishing the phone's technical specifications — basic details any company selling a phone should be able to provide. As of Thursday afternoon, however, no technical specifications had been provided to The Daily Beast or added to the Freedom Phone's website.

In an interview, Finman claimed that the Freedom Phone is manufactured in Hong Kong.

"Nothing's manufactured itself in mainland China," Finman said.

According to Umidigi's website, the tech manufacturer's headquarters is located in Shenzhen, a mainland Chinese city near Hong Kong. Umidigi didn't respond to a request for comment.

The Freedom Phone also comes preloaded with an array of free apps for social media networks Parler and MeWe, would-be YouTube competitor Rumble, and media networks One America News and Newsmax. Popular battle royale shooter Fortnite is also preinstalled on the Freedom Phone— a fact that confused more than one conservative influencer who promoted the product.

It's not clear why a handful of free apps, all of which are currently available in the Google Play app store for other Android devices, would justify the price increase over the Umidigi. Even if the apps were ultimately banned from Google's store in the future, users could still install them on non-Freedom Phone Android phones through a process called "sideloading."

The vagaries of Freedom Phone's actual specifications has produced some awkwardness among the Freedom Phone's legions of conservative influencers. For example, the Freedom Phone's "Freedom OS" operating system is based on Google's Android operating system, according to Finman. But during a livestream video promoting the phone, right-wing activist Anna Khait was confused by her fans' basic questions about the phone.

"Is it an Android?" Khait said. "I'm not really sure. No, it's a Freedom Phone."

While Freedom Phone's founder has failed to include basic details about its device, he did line up a massive ad campaign among conservative influencers. Along with Owens, Stone, D'Souza, and Alexander, the Freedom Phone has also been backed by a number of other figures popular on the right, including Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, journalist John Solomon, and Students for Trump cofounder Ryan Fournier.

Many of the Freedom Phone's prominent endorsers urged their followers to use a promo code to buy the phone, suggesting that the influencers will receive a cut when their fans buy the phone. Each referred sale results in a $50 payment to the influencer who endorsed the phone, according to a website explaining Freedom Phone's "promoters" program.

Freedom Phone's promotional campaign generated attention across Twitter, as conservatives promoted it and critics pointed out its potential technical shortfalls. Finman spoke to The Daily Beast from the Freedom Phone's launch party, right as he realized the phone's name had become a "trending topic" on Twitter.

"Oh shit, this is trending," Finman said. "Wow."


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JBB
Professor Principal
1  seeder  JBB    2 weeks ago

Suckers!

 
 
 
Split Personality
PhD Principal
1.1  Split Personality  replied to  JBB @1    2 weeks ago

On March 6, 2021, the phone was $449.99, since then it has gone up to $499.99

in spite of it being a base Android which the "Freedumb Phone" people

cannot or will not disclose the origin, network rating ( 4G,5G, etc), memory or camera quality.

I just got 2 Apple iphone12s for "free" from ATT.

Why would I pay for some shady unrated phone because I can't be at my PC all day on Parler?

Who really needs Parler on their phone?

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1.1  Kavika   replied to  Split Personality @1.1    2 weeks ago
Who really needs Parler on their phone?

Perverts.

 
 
 
Split Personality
PhD Principal
1.1.2  Split Personality  replied to  Split Personality @1.1    2 weeks ago

I am surprised that Turley and Pregar aren;t involved yet

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
1.1.3  Bob Nelson  replied to  Split Personality @1.1    2 weeks ago
the phone was $449.99, since then it has gone up to $499.99

My guess is that when they calculated the original price, they forgot to include the cheapo-phone's purchase. 

 
 
 
Split Personality
PhD Principal
1.1.4  Split Personality  replied to  Bob Nelson @1.1.3    2 weeks ago

LOL!!

Nah, they had to add in the influencer's finders fees when there was no initial interest in the phone.

Saw an interview the other day and the spokesperson was gatting really annoyed by the millenials asking nothing but technical questions when the spokesperson just wanted to focus on the privacy issue.

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
1.2  cjcold  replied to  JBB @1    2 weeks ago

And far right wingers fall for yet another scam.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

It was obvious from the beginning that this was a con designed to separate dumbass Trumpsters from their money. 

The only mystery left is how does Trump get his cut? 

Roger Stone, Candace Owens, D'nesh D'Souza, all in on the con. If the Trumpster target market for this scam had any sense they would run all these grifters out of town on a rail, especially Erik Finman. . 

 
 
 
pat wilson
Professor Guide
2.1  pat wilson  replied to  JohnRussell @2    2 weeks ago
how does Trump get his cut? 

If he doesn't he'll be squealing like a pig stuck under the gate.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
2.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  JohnRussell @2    2 weeks ago

I wonder if the patent was one one of seven that Ivanka got from China after she and daddy sucked up to the head guy over dinner.  Using Steve Buschimi's (sp) picture with this seed is perfect.  He has played some truly evil characters in movies.

 
 
 
SteevieGee
Junior Silent
2.3  SteevieGee  replied to  JohnRussell @2    2 weeks ago

Lots of people are sayin' the Freedom phone's actual specifications will be released as soon as the audit is finished.

 
 
 
Split Personality
PhD Principal
2.3.1  Split Personality  replied to  SteevieGee @2.3    2 weeks ago

jrSmiley_12_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2.3.2  Kavika   replied to  SteevieGee @2.3    2 weeks ago

I'm sure that will be in two weeks. 

 
 
 
pat wilson
Professor Guide
3  pat wilson    2 weeks ago

"Oh shit, this is trending," Finman said. "Wow."

Isn't that the whole point ?

Freedumb fone

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4  Kavika     2 weeks ago

It truly is the Freedumb fone. Just look at who is promoting it and who will be buying it.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
5  seeder  JBB    2 weeks ago

"FREEDUMB! FREEDUMB! FREEDUMB!"

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
6  Bob Nelson    2 weeks ago

Reading about the Freedom Phone has been like reading about the Nigerian Prince. It's been obvious since the first word that this is a scam. 

Apparently, TrumpTrueBelievers are in a great hurry to give their money away. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
7  Buzz of the Orient    2 weeks ago

Well, it's from China so why isn't Biden banning it?

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
8  Bob Nelson    2 weeks ago

"Biden"? "Ban"? Those words don't fit into the same sentence..

Besides... there's no point. TrumpTrueBelievers will fall all over themselves to exchange their cash for Trump's snake-oil. 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
9  Bob Nelson    2 weeks ago

From Gizmodo :

384 MAGA-Branded 'Freedom Phone' Is a Black Box That Should Be Avoided at All Costs
Nobody can blame GOP voters for wanting a phone that prioritizes privacy and autonomy, but the Freedom Phone can't be trusted.

Be it Parler, Gab, or GETTR, recent times have seen no shortage of dollar-sign-eyed entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on conservative America’s disdain for “liberal” Silicon Valley. It was only a matter of time before someone tried to invent the MAGA phone.

Er, make that...the “ Freedom Phone .” The device, which launched Thursday, is the product of Erik Finman, a 22-year-old crypto-millionaire who says that he wants America’s patriots to take “back control” of their lives from the tech oligarchy. Finman’s phone, which costs $499, claims to offer conservatives a way to be free of Big Tech’s “spying” and “censorship”—though it is radically vague on the details. Like a random handgun, the phone should be treated as if it were loaded and dangerous because we simply don’t know what’s in the chamber.

Freedom Phone claims that it can protect users from the data collection that comes with an iOS or Android operating system (it has something called a “FreedomOS”—which, ironically, just appears to be a modified version go Google’s Android OS). The phone is also meant to liberate users from Big Tech’s alleged ideological preferences: it has an “uncensorable app store” (called the “PatriApp,” lol), where it is apparently impossible for apps to get booted no matter how unsafe or horrendous they are.

The device also comes pre-loaded with a host of privacy features (Signal, DuckDuckGo, Brave), as well as a suite of apps that seem tailor-made for Trump voters: Parler, One America News Network, Newsmax, and Rumble are all included.

“This is the first major pushback on the Big Tech companies that attacked us - for just thinking different,”   Finman tweeted   Thursday morning. “We’re finally taking back control.” Other right-wing influencers and commentators could also be seen   promoting the product   on their channels.

Yet while the product is being sold as an escape from Big Tech’s nefarious oversight, in reality, it appears to be a budget phone from Asia that may end up compromising buyers’ autonomy rather than protecting it.

Before we get into the specifics of why this device probably sucks, let me just say that the desire to have a phone that is dedicated to protecting your autonomy and privacy is a reasonable one—and should be encouraged. That said, I don’t think the Freedom Phone provides that. Actually, aside from its overt partisan bent, it’s impossible to tell what kind of device this is because Finman and his acolytes haven’t provided any information about it.

Let’s start with   the website   (freedomphone.com). Hilariously, it provides literally zero specs about the actual device. There is no information about the phone’s operating system, storage, camera, CPU, or RAM capabilities. It has a list of features, but there are no actual details about them. Instead, under each feature, there’s merely a “Buy it now” button which redirects you to the site’s shopping cart. The phone’s hefty price, combined with the company’s total lack of transparency, is ridiculous—essentially asking the buyer to cough up half a grand in exchange for, uh, something! We sent an email to Freedom Phone to ask for further information and will update this story if they ever respond.

The fact that the device is essentially a black box also makes it a potential security (and thus also privacy) nightmare—and once again, it should be treated that way until proven otherwise. In fact, based on the assessment of some security professionals who have scoped it out, the Freedom Phone should be avoided at all costs.

Matthew Hickey, the co-founder of   Hacker House   and longtime cyber professional, said that, while it hasn’t been confirmed, the Freedom Phone would appear to be a cheap Android device sourced from Asia—the likes of which could be vulnerable to all assortment of supply chain risks and other issues.

“Based on photographs from the company website a number of Internet sleuths identified that the device has the same form-factor, shape, and appearance of a   Umidigi A9 Pro ,” said Hickey, via email. “This device is a drop-shipped customizable Android-based phone that can be ordered from ASIAPAC region and customized to a project’s requirements,” he said, clarifying that such devices can be “bought and shipped in bulk with custom logos and branding so as to give the appearance of a phone that has been designed for a unique purpose but is actually just a common cheap Android-based smartphone with core components produced in Taiwan and the surrounding areas.” It’s also very cheap: the A9 Pro is currently   available for about $120 , much less than the Freedom Phone’s $500.

According to  The Daily Beast , Finman confirmed that the device he was selling was made by Umidigi but couldn’t say what specific model it was.

On top of everything, “Freedom” would also appear to be using a CPU from Taiwan produced by Mediatek, the likes of which is “popular in low-end Android-based devices” and is known to be buggy, said Hickey.

“Historically Mediatek devices have shipped with a wide number of insecure configurations and are prone to trivial vulnerabilities that allows anyone with physical possession of such a device to read/write the data on the phone through its early bootloader,” Hickey said. “They make phones specifically to permit high customization and as such many of the vendors own software [that] can be used to manipulate the devices, which is why such hardware is popular in countries like North Korea as often the security enabled by a user can simply be circumvented by a state operative,” he added.

Nothing screams “freedom” like products popular in the DPRK.

The funny thing is, if Trump voters are looking for a way to get off the “Big Tech” grid, there’s no need for them to buy this sketchy shit. There are actually entire subcultures within the phone industry dedicated to escaping the Android/iOS paradigm. You can wade into   the de-Googled phone sector , for instance—where Android phones are sold that have ostensibly been refurbished to rid the devices of code that will “send your personal data” back to the tech giant. There’s also   the Linux-based Pinephone , which sells at a fraction of the Freedom Phone’s cost (between $150 and $200), and is a favorite of those in the privacy community. All of these come with caveats, obviously, but the point is that there are much more transparent and affordable options than the Freedom Phone.

Of course, total security and privacy aren’t really what the Freedom Phone is about. For Finman and his company, it’s just a cash-in on the growing conservative demand for products that are brand MAGA. For the customers, meanwhile, buying a phone like this is a statement of identity—a consumer choice that brings with it a sense of community, as well as a chance to give a big middle finger to the commercial and cultural establishment that they feel has repudiated them.

It’d be nice if Americans could actually come together around the issue of privacy since it’s an area where—regardless of political party—we’re all collectively getting screwed. However, something tells me the “Freedom Phone” isn’t exactly a harbinger of that—more the opposite.

 
 
 
Split Personality
PhD Principal
9.1  Split Personality  replied to  Bob Nelson @9    2 weeks ago

"taking back control" of their lives fits right in with "taking back our country",

doesn't it?

Finman is money laundering his Bitcoins into real cash, plain and simple.

 
 
 
devangelical
PhD Principal
9.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Split Personality @9.1    2 weeks ago

hopefully it comes preloaded with CCP malware that will empty their bank accounts, all at once.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
9.1.2  Ender  replied to  devangelical @9.1.1    2 weeks ago

Just don't hit the donate to trump button...

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
9.2  Kavika   replied to  Bob Nelson @9    2 weeks ago
it appears to be a budget phone from Asia that may end up compromising buyers’ autonomy rather than protecting it.

LOL, a whole flock of Trumpette dumb fucks, compromised. Big time karma.

 
 
 
devangelical
PhD Principal
9.2.1  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @9.2    2 weeks ago

for some time now, it's been US government policy for official visitors to china to have their cell phones turned off during flights to china, to proceed to the nearest embassy or consulate and have a loaner phone issued to them while their personal or gov't issued phones are quarantined and scanned. gee, how come?

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
9.2.2  Bob Nelson  replied to  devangelical @9.2.1    2 weeks ago

To install an NSA chip? 

 
 
 
Hallux
Freshman Principal
10  Hallux    2 weeks ago

Aw come on guys, XXJefferson51 was going to be such a proud ... er ... grateful owner/user.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
10.1  Bob Nelson  replied to  Hallux @10    2 weeks ago

It's s-o-o-o obviously a scam. Which means that its promoters think that a blatantly obvious scam is viable for TrumpTrueBelievers. 

The disdain these scammers show for TrumpTrueBelievers is... telling... 

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
10.1.1  Gordy327  replied to  Bob Nelson @10.1    2 weeks ago

Not as telling as those who would actually buy the phone or think it somehow has special capabilities or functions to bypass "censorship" from particular sites. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
10.1.2  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Bob Nelson @10.1    2 weeks ago

It's EASY to scam ignorant Americans who send Trump money and continue to believe the election was stolen, so why shouldn't American entrepreneurs take advantage of those fools and make lots of money from them. They DESERVE to be fleeced, if they have anything left after Trump fleeced them - those sheep following their shepherd. 

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
10.2  Thrawn 31  replied to  Hallux @10    2 weeks ago

I know he already has one. I also wonder how much of his money he will have to give to Trump for no return that it will take for him to realize he has been had.

 
 
 
devangelical
PhD Principal
10.3  devangelical  replied to  Hallux @10    2 weeks ago

meh, you have to admire anyone that rips off those fucking dolts...

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
10.4  Gordy327  replied to  Hallux @10    2 weeks ago

What's ironic is that those who complain about censorship probably think of China as an "evil empire," or other like derogatory term, but will buy this overpriced phone that comes from China. Because, you know, freedom. jrSmiley_4_smiley_image.png

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
11  Ender    2 weeks ago

Can't you just jailbreak a phone. Sounds a lot easier.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
11.1  TᵢG  replied to  Ender @11    2 weeks ago

Or just load your own apps and go only to the websites you wish.   This is soooo stupid.

 
 
 
devangelical
PhD Principal
11.1.1  devangelical  replied to  TᵢG @11.1    2 weeks ago

... uh, consider the mentality of his targeted market.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
11.1.2  Gordy327  replied to  devangelical @11.1.1    2 weeks ago
consider the mentality of his targeted market.

Or the lack of.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
12  TᵢG    2 weeks ago

This (and similar initiatives) are predictable.   People see a target market of demonstrated gullibility consisting of potentially tens of millions of people.   So of course they will come up with products that appeals to the red-meat emotional thinking of this market and rake in the dough.

I see this as akin to the prosperity gospel televangelists who soak their gullible audience.

Critical thinking needs to be taught more aggressively in our educational system.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
12.1  Kavika   replied to  TᵢG @12    2 weeks ago

The lastest flim-flam man to join the fleecing of Trumpettes is Ron Deathsantis, Governor of FL.

Don't Fauci My Florida': Gov. Ron DeSantis Selling Koozies, Spoof Merchandise

The products show a clear disdain for Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading health expert

By   Selima Hussain     Published July 13, 2021     Updated on   July 14, 2021   at   5:00 am

   
Screen-Shot-2021-07-13-at-3.36.51-PM.png?resize=320%2C180&quality=85&strip=all

A new line of merchandise from Florida   Gov. Ron DeSantis   is creating quite a stir on social media.

From a koozie emblazoned with the message "How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?" to a T-shirt reading "Don't Fauci my Florida," the products show a clear disdain for Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading health expert, as well as skepticism over stringent   coronavirus regulations .

Another shirt featuring an image of DeSantis over a fused photo of the American and Florida flags reads: "Keep Florida free."

 
 
 
Split Personality
PhD Principal
12.2  Split Personality  replied to  TᵢG @12    2 weeks ago

nope, they are dead set against CRitical Thinking /s

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
12.3  Gordy327  replied to  TᵢG @12    2 weeks ago
I see this as akin to the prosperity gospel televangelists who soak their gullible audience.

It seems the target audience for either market are quite similar, if not actually the same.

Critical thinking needs to be taught more aggressively in our educational system.

This is probably the same market audience opposed to our ("liberal") educational system. Or critical thinking.

 
 
 
devangelical
PhD Principal
12.3.1  devangelical  replied to  Gordy327 @12.3    2 weeks ago
It seems the target audience for either market are quite similar, if not actually the same.

... morons.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
12.3.2  Gordy327  replied to  devangelical @12.3.1    2 weeks ago

You said it, I didn't. 

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
13  Thrawn 31    2 weeks ago

Wait… FUCKING WAIT… you mean something pitched by Trump ended up not being at all what he said it was and in the end you are out x number of dollars for a pile of shit that no one else wants and Trump is still “rich”?

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
13.1  Bob Nelson  replied to  Thrawn 31 @13    2 weeks ago

Astonishing, isn't it? 

jrSmiley_80_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
13.1.1  Thrawn 31  replied to  Bob Nelson @13.1    2 weeks ago

For real, if I didn’t have any sort of morality I could make a killing off of trumps base. Unfortunately for my bank account exploiting retards is morally beneath me. 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
13.1.2  Bob Nelson  replied to  Thrawn 31 @13.1.1    2 weeks ago

... stealing candy from babies... 

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
13.1.3  Thrawn 31  replied to  Bob Nelson @13.1.2    2 weeks ago

And then selling it back to them.

 
 
 
Hal A. Lujah
Professor Principal
14  Hal A. Lujah    2 weeks ago

It sucks to have morals and ethics.  There’s a lot of money to be made from idiots if you don’t have these characteristics.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
14.1  Thrawn 31  replied to  Hal A. Lujah @14    2 weeks ago

So true, over the last few years I have been chiding myself for being above taking advantage of the mentally handicapped.

 
 
 
devangelical
PhD Principal
14.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Thrawn 31 @14.1    2 weeks ago

pretend you're born again...

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
14.1.2  Thrawn 31  replied to  devangelical @14.1.1    2 weeks ago

Honestly, I am just too good a person to be a Christian.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
15  Kavika     2 weeks ago

512

 
 
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