Annoyed with monthly cellphone bills? FreedomPop is offering to erase them completely if you buy their flagship smartphone. The company is a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO. What that means is they use other carriers’ networks; you buy a SIM card from them that work with most phones. FreedomPop’s claim to fame is their offer of free mobile plans. The company turns a profit by charging for extra calls, texts, and data. While FreedomPop doesn’t sell brand-new devices, they’ve been offering refurbished devices for quite some time, and recently launched an online store, FreedomShop, to sell pre-owned Android and iOS devices. They’re looking to change that by offering their own budget-minded smartphone: the FreedomPop V7.
The FreedomPop V7 is a pretty basic Android device, with a 5-inch screen, 13MP camera, 16GB of internal memory, 1GB of RAM, and a modest 1.1Ghz quad-core processing chip. Nothing impressive, but the company isn’t looking to wow. FreedomPop does most of its business in Europe, where these type of lower-mid-range smartphones reign supreme. The V7 will launch in the U.K. and Spain and cost £59/€59 (or about $72), with a US release coming soon, according to the company.
“We want the entire FreedomPop experience to be simple, convenient and affordable for consumers, and that includes the device you use with your free plan,” said Nicholas Constantinopoulos, FreedomPop’s international president. “In order to ensure everyone can get access to wireless service, it was important we offer a high-quality, full-featured Android phone at a price anyone can afford. Starting today with the FreedomPop V7, there is no reason anyone should be without wireless service.”
FreedomPop’s business model isn’t too difficult to comprehend. They lure consumers in by giving away a limited amount of free mobile data, text, and talk time, then upsell to those who need more. The company has raised around $110 million in equity funding, including a $50 million round last January, with some notable backers on board, including one of the co-founders of Skype. It seems like that gave them enough confidence to dip their toes into the hardware market.
For 59 euros, you’ll get a brand-new FreedomPop V7 along with an activated mobile SIM card with voice, text, and data bundled. 200 megabytes of data, 200 texts, and 200 minutes of phone calls a month are included with that basic, free plan. WhatsApp will be completely data-free to use as part of a partnership with the popular communication app. FreedomPop won’t be locking the V7 to its own SIM cards. Feel free to buy the device and use it on whatever network you wish, either at home or internationally. The device is even dual-SIM, so you don’t even have to swap the cards out.