Freedompop? That’s the question I’m trying to answer. Lets start the review:
In August 2016, I purchased my Freedompop “Privacy” phone for around $200. I was sold on the idea of encrypted calls, texts, and a security-hardened Android OS. I received this:
…yes, a galaxy S3 (released in early 2012) for $200. I was excited because Freedompop clearly picked the performance-challenged S3 and the couple generation old OS for security reasons, as they would have had time to patch any exploits in the OS. Freedompop even added another layer of security: silence.
That’s right. The out of box experience is as secure as it gets since you can’t actually make any calls or send texts. To be honest, I don’t remember how I managed to start sending texts successfully. (Maybe it was the 8th time resetting the phone?) This unpredictability, or unreliability, would certainly annoy any eavesdroppers or malicious hackers who were attempting to sniff my traffic. And since most of my texts didn’t actually get sent, there wasn’t a trace of them, which is a core feature of Freedompop’s Privacy phone.
Freedomp also applied its own neat voice modulation to calls which obscured my voice. For example, my dad noted during one phone call, that I sounded like darth vader. I was about tell him that was because of Freedompop’s voice modulation software, but the call dropped. Or maybe my dad got tired of asking if I was still there since Freedompop’s special security features also input regular delays or echoes or dolphin sounds or whale mating calls, during your phone calls to loved ones.
And the encryption? It turns out this is done via their VPN software, which didn’ actually run. I contacted their support forum, but I didn’t receive a response, which I assume is also a security feature of their forums.
Unfortunately, I wasnt able to activate my S5 on their network so I called their support department in india to cancel my account. They were courteous and let me know they cancelled my account. However, I didn’t realize that another feature of Freedompop’s service is that you actually have to make the cancellation request at least three times, which is similar to my experience with trying to make a phone call on their network. Fortunately, I believe I was able to cancel my service after I specifically requested not to speak to their customer support but rather to their automated voice system. (Interestingly, you can cancel anyone’s service on Freedompop via the automated voice system, no verification required.)