FreedomPop Rolls Its Own Smartphone

Says ‘V7’ model will give it more control of service, improve supply issues
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FreedomPop, the company behind a WiFi-first voice and data products, has introduced its own full-featured, low-cost phone for £59 (US$69.77) that will initially be offered in the U.K. and Spain, with plans to introduce it in the U.S. later this year.

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FreedomPop has previously relied on refurbished Android smartphones. The new device, called the V7, will give the company more control of its service, gain access to a higher-quality product, and will help FreedomPop deal with supply issues for refurbished Android devices, said FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols.

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He said FreedomPop, which tends to operate in the lower end of the market, has run into supply problems by leaning on refurbished devices that, on occasion, has caused the company to stop promotions prematurely and created a backorder issue.

“There are only so many devices in the market,” he said, noting that FreedomPop’s issue with supply has been ongoing for about 18 months.

By going with its own smartphone, FreedomPop will also get more control of the service and the overall experience, which uses a WiFi-first model that falls back on cellular networks through MVNO deals with carriers, Stokols said.

FreedomPop isn’t naming its initial supplier for the V7, but the company could eventually work with multiple OEM partners, he said.

While acknowledging that FreedomPop doesn’t need the volumes of a company like Samsung, the aim is to take on partners that can produce in the volumes it needs, “and ramp up with us," Stokols said. 

FreedomPop doesn’t disclose exact customer figures, but is approaching 2 million worldwide, according to Stokols. 

Stokols said FreedomPop expects to introduce the V7 to U.S. customers by sometime in the next quarter.

The FreedomPop V7 includes a free FreedomPop SIM that supports free voice, text and data included, as well as free WhatsApp usage. Customers who want more than the basic free plan can either upgrade to a paid FreedomPop plan, use a different SIM, or both, because the phone is dual SIM device.

The phone itself runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, features a five-inch IPS scree and 13 megapixel camera, and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor. It has 8 gigabytes of internal memory and can support 32 GB micros SD card.