Has anyone else here owned or used a Freedom Phone?

I bought a Freedom Phone when they first came out, mid 2021 IIRC (though it wasn’t delivered until early 2022, chip shortage). It runs on ClearOS, which seems to have been developed by ClearCellular. They have a different business model than most carriers, though I’m not using their carrier service (stuck with the one I had). From what I understand, their OS is based on Android (the FOSS elements) and custom built on top of that. It’s supposed to have security features built in, and uses “decentralized” storage of information, rather than ‘telemetry’ to carriers and data brokers.

I’m just curious if anyone else has experience with the phone and what your thoughts are about its usefulness and security, etc. They seem to be still selling them, but I haven’t heard anything about them in a long time: https://www.freedomphone.com/. I’ve been pretty happy with mine. They have their own App Store, but it interfaces fairly well with Android apps that are commonly available (I think they test the Apps for compatibility with their platform).

I’m watching the discussions about GrapheneOS here, and other options, for the day that I’ll eventually need a replacement.

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Yes, I bought it too a few years ago and started to use it for our business phone. The OS was forever updating. Part of my problem was selecting a bad cell service provider. I dropped the provider and stopped using Freedom Phone altogether. But it sits on my desk in hopes of doing something with it… like learning the ClearOS better.

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I did a tutorial with a support person from Freedom Phone a few months after I got the phone. He spent about an hour with me educating me on using it. One of the things he told me - and I assume this is what you’re talking about - is that there’s a trick to updating the apps on the phone. To my knowledge the OS (ClearOS 10.x IIRC) on my phone has never updated. But the ClearOS related apps on the phone, as well as any 3rd party apps will try to upgrade when upgrades are available. There will be a flashing “down arrow” (with a line below it) “icon” at the top left of the screen when you turn on the phone or take it off Airplane Mode.

What you need to do in that case is go into the “ClearAPPS” app (their App Store), and then tap the “Updates” icon at the bottom middle of that screen. If you have Updates available, it will show you a list of them. The trick is: Instead of “Update All”, just update one app at a time - then, after that one update has finished, RESTART the phone. Then go back into ClearAPPS and repeat this process - updating only one app at a time and restarting - until you have cleared the Updates screen. If you have never done this you may have a number of updates pending, so it may be a pain to “catch up”, but once that’s done, updates don’t come around that often so it’s not that big of a deal when maintained.

If you don’t update, that “down arrow” flashing icon will bug you eternally. You can probably do all this over a Wi-Fi connection if you have no SIM card or carrier for the phone at this time.

I still haven’t found a ClearOS User Manual. I think that support guy told me they were working on one, but I keep looking on their website for it and haven’t found one. The few tips and tricks I got on the support call did help, but honestly the OS is not that difficult. I had an Android phone before that, and the processes are fairly similar. The ClearAPPS app store is maybe the big difference.

I did have some issues putting Contacts into the “ClearCONTACTS” app (formerly called “ClearDID”, it changed after an update), because they would then “disappear”. But I figured out to have the phone service ‘on’ when inputting a Contact, and that helped. Their “decentralized” data server configuration backs up your data somewhere, or syncs it I guess, which won’t work properly if you’re not ‘online’. That might work on Wi-Fi as well, as it just needs to sync over the internet.

Supposedly, this “decentralized” data is encrypted/secure and is only used for the functions of the phone. Any kind of ‘telemetry’ to Big Data uses a “centralized” model. That’s my understanding anyway.