A “wireless underdog” best known for its free Internet and phone plans has introduced another revolutionary product: a smartphone that enables users to reclaim some lost privacy.
The company, FreedomPop, is taking advantage of the privacy-oriented, Android operating system smartphone trend in developing and marketing its Privacy Phone, a device that joins with others like Blackphone, which launched at Mobile World Congress in late February. FreedomPop is also joining with Boeing, which is reportedly planning to develop and market a tamper-proof, privacy-minded smartphone of its own.
As reported by Alice Truong at Fast Company, the new device is rooted in current events:
FreedomPop’s phone, nicknamed the “Snowden Phone,” runs on the Samsung Galaxy II and encrypts calls and data with a secure virtual private network. While Blackphone and Boeing’s secure smartphones will run on custom Android builds, FreedomPop’s phone will make customizations to the read-only memory, not the operating system.
The new FreedomPop phone will also feature a kill switch that enables users to remotely wipe the phone’s contents, additionally rendering it inoperable if it is lost or stolen. It has similarities to “burner phones” too, “because users can request a phone number change as often as they’d like by logging into their accounts,” Truong writes.
No question, the phone will likely not top the list of the National Security Agency’s most favorite devices.
And the prices is right
Another cool feature of the phone is its price: At about $189, it is completely affordable — and fully encrypted.
In addition, the price includes an unlimited voice and text plan, as well as 500 MB worth of data per month for the first three months. By contract, the Blackphone is much more expensive — retailing for about $629, on pre-order.
FreedomPop co-founder and CEO Stephen Stokols told Fast Company that the price of his firm’s device makes it geared more toward “the average consumer.” Blackphone officials, however, responded by saying theirs is competitively priced when compared to retail prices of unlock phones, devices that are not subsidized by wireless telecoms.
Following the introductory period, FreedomPop’s phone plan comes to around $10 a month. And really privacy-oriented consumers have the choice of paying for their service with bitcoins, a digital currency that also provides users a modicum of anonymity.
We taken all the steps we can
TechNewsWorld reported that the Snowden Phone likely isn’t capable of locking out the NSA or any other determined hacker/spy, “but like a lot of security measures, it will make it a lot harder for anyone to intrude on its owner’s privacy.”
And that alone may make it more attractive to a tech-heavy, tech-savvy generation that is nonetheless tired of having its privacy violated regularly and with impunity.
Here are some of the additional features on the Snowden Phone:
— an 8+ megapixel camera that comes with autofocus and an LED flash;
— camera scene modes, smile detection and a panorama feature;
— a microUSB port;
— it supports WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 with ADP and WiMAX plus EVDO Rev. A; and
— a VoIP feature that enables voice transmission encryption and lets users bypass firewalls.
“We do not claim that it is NSA-proof,” said FreedomPop spokesperson Tony Miller, in an interview withTechNewsWorld, adding that right now the phone is only available in areas with strong 4G coverage (3G will be added soon).
“We’ve taken all the measures we can,” Miller said. “We can’t do anything with 100 percent certainty and don’t make claims to.”
You can check one out online here.