While today's smartphones have evolved into powerful computers, they are often too complex and tightly integrated to be opened-up by the majority of hackers. By design, they also tend to leak private data to third parties (through built-in apps, OS, and network operation).
Ben Wilson, the electronic engineer behind California-based HackEDA which officially runs the WiPhone Kickstarter campaign , wants to help users regain control over their phone, a device they can easily take apart or incorporate into different projects, while controlling where the data goes.
“It's sort of like the phone James Bond would carry if he was also a programmer” explains Wilson, noting that the firmware is open and the hardware is expandable so one could add a LoRA radio, a mega battery back, or cover the back of it with an LED array. While the WiPhone is more intended to be an Arduino-compatible hacking tool than a phone, it is self-contained and also works well as a backup phone to make free VoIP calls over any WiFi connection.
The WiPhone can be completely disassembled, using only 6 screws, to be repaired or re-purposed, and the whole back of the phone comes as an expansion port and prototyping area, which can be replaced with a breadboard or any custom PCB. The Arduino-compatible firmware is open and easy to understand, claims Wilson, which eases the modification or replacement of software functionality.
The 120x50x12mm phone also comes free from built-in trackers, spy tools, and cannot be triangulated from cell towers, highlights the campaign. Owners can even disable automatic firmware updates, or completely remove the stock firmware and use their own.
The phone is built around an ESP32 dual core processor running at 240 MHz, it has a 2.4” screen (320x240), a 25 buttons backlit keypad (all keys being user programmable), a micro USB connector, a 3.5mm audio jack and an internal microSD slot. Its 700mAh battery gives the WiPhone an