FreedomPop is about to step in to the hardware game thanks to some cash and processor, provided by Intel and its investment arm, Intel Capital. So far, the FreedomPop brand has been used purely to launch incredibly affordable smartphone data plans in the US, and recently launched in the UK in partnership with Three. This would mark the first time the company has launched its very own hardware…
A report by Ina Fried at Re/code details the virtual carrier’s plans. Having spoken with the company’s CEO Stephen Stokols, the publication revealed that the new smartphone — made specifically for use on FreedomPop’s network — will be built by a well-known Chinese smartphone manufacturer. It’s described as a “smartphone optimized for Wi-Fi” and will feature a next generation processor made by Intel.
According to FreedomPop’s CEO, Intel has a lot more to gain from this partnership than FreedomPop does. He argues that the phone will “showcase their [Intel’s] technology more than they could on their own.” If the device takes off, he might be right. Intel’s processors aren’t being adopted widely by many well-known manufacturers. Most opt for Qualcomm or MediaTek silicon. So, if this device is made by a big-name Chinese brand, it could quite possibly improve Intel’s presence in the mobile industry.
Like many phones these days, it’s aiming to be a disruptive device. It’ll cost less than $200 and feature as many high-tier features as possible at that price point. While the phone will be made for exclusive use on FreedomPop’s network where it has a presence, it will also be sold in other markets where the carrier doesn’t yet do business. FreedomPop has plans to expand to new markets in the new year as well, perhaps to tie in with the launch of this new device.
“Mobile consumers continue to look for more ways to save on mobile bills, and a Wi-Fi-first smartphone allows them to use a more cost-effective network,” said Sam Spangler, general manager of Intel’s phone business, in a statement. “We look forward to working jointly with FreedomPop in improving the customer’s Wi-Fi-first experience via this new smartphone utilizing FreedomPop’s Wi-Fi network.”
Neither company would say which manufacturer was building the phone, meaning we have some guessing to do as to who it might be. The face that the company is Chinese and “well-known” limits it slightly. It’s unlikely to be OnePlus, but could conceivably be Huawei or ZTE, both of which have growing reputations and mindshare in global markets.