Tech

Trump fans like Candace Owens and Jack Posobiec are hyping the $500 Freedom Phone, which appears to be a cheap Chinese handset with a big markup

  • Conservative figures are excited for the Freedom Phone, which promises to be ‘uncensorable.’
  • But the $500 phone looks to be a much marked-up handset from a budget Chinese brand.
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  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The launch of an “uncensorable” smartphone aimed at US conservatives is being hyped by Trumpworld figures such as Candace Owens and Jack Posobiec — but it may not be all it’s cracked up to be. 

The $500 Freedom Phone targets users concerned about big tech censorship and freedom of speech. It comes pre-loaded with apps like Parler, Rumble and Newsxmax’s app, as well as a privacy guard.

Despit the price tag, the phone appears to be a reworking of Chinese handsets available for as little as $119, per several repors.

The phone has gained enthusiastic endorsements from across the MAGAsphere — from Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec to “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, who was banned from Twitter following the January 6 Capitol riot. 

Candace Owens tweeted that she is a “proud partner” of the product, adding a promotional code. 

But as The Daily Beast reported, the handset is from budget Chinese brand Umidigi, and comes with a hefty mark-up. Finman confirmed the Umidigi origins, but was unable to tell The Beast which of its models the Freedom Phone uses.

Matthew Hickey, co-founder of the cybersecurity firm Hacker House, told the Daily Dot that the phone is most likely a rebranded version of Umidigi’s A9 Pro, an Android-based phone that retails for $133, and can be found for as little as $119

Umidigi’s most expensive model, the Bison Pro — normally priced at $299 on the company’s website, and as little as $190 elsewhere — does not resemble the Freedom Phone’s promotional images, suggesting that the model is from the lower end.

The phone “can be bought and shipped in bulk from Asia with custom logos and branding so as to give the appearance of a phone that has been designed for a unique purpose,” Hickey said.

Asked what justifies the markup to $500, Finman told the Beast that the phone had customized hardware and improved memory, but gave no specifics.

As of Friday, no detailed specifications for the phone appear on the Freedom Phone’s website. 

Hickey also told the Daily Dot that Umidgi phones have poor security — exactly the opposite of what the Freedom Phone touts — because of its use of chips made by the Taiwanese firm MediaTek.

In response, a Freedom Phone spokesperson told Insider: “the chip exploit does not apply to us because we do not use that chip.” They did not immediately address other claims about the phone.

“The Freedom Phone makes a lot of promises and it remains to be seen if it can deliver on them,” wrote tech review site ScreenRant, which has not yet got hold of the phone itself. The product is due to ship in the fall.

The might of big technology corporations is a major preoccupation of conservative politicians and media figures, most notably after former President Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter following the January 6 Capitol  riots. 

Conservative figures frequently complain that rightwing users are more often targeted by big tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google — despite the fact that Facebook’s most popular pages are often rightwing, as Insider’s Ben Gilbert reported.



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