Flipping Out for the M1

The M1, a Flipper Zero alternative, offers similar capabilities and a professional design at a lower price — if you can wait until July.

Nick Bild
4 months agoSecurity
The M1 is a compact multi-tool for technophiles and hackers (📷: K. Wang)

The Flipper Zero is an innovative and versatile hacking tool designed for both cybersecurity professionals and hobbyists alike. Developed by Flipper Devices, it is a compact and multifunctional device that combines various capabilities into a single sleek package. At its core, the Flipper Zero is equipped with a microcontroller and several types of transceivers, allowing users to perform a wide array of tasks ranging from penetration testing to hardware manipulation.

Beyond its technical capabilities, the Flipper Zero distinguishes itself with its user-friendly interface and open-source software. Its intuitive interface and customizable firmware make it accessible to users of all skill levels, while its open-source nature encourages collaboration and community-driven development. This combination of accessibility and flexibility positions the Flipper Zero as a powerful tool for both educational purposes and real-world cybersecurity applications.

The device has captured a lot of attention in recent months for some notable hacks that were carried out while leveraging its capabilities. We reported on one particularly annoying attack that was targeted at a wide range of Apple devices last year.

If you are looking for an alternative to the Flipper Zero, until recently that probably meant buying a drawer full of devices at a much higher overall cost and lacking in simplicity and usability. But now an ongoing Kickstarter campaign is offering a device, called the M1, with functionality and a form factor suspiciously similar to the Flipper Zero. At least for now, the M1 comes with a lower price tag — at the time of writing, a $109 early bird special is still available. This is in comparison to the $169 charged for a Flipper Zero in the Flipper store. The retail price of the M1 is listed as $165, however, so those savings may evaporate in the future.

The M1 does offer a bit of an upgrade with respect to the microcontroller, sporting a STM32H series chip with an ARM Cortex-M33 core. This also brings a security feature called TrustZone along with it, which helps to keep sensitive data, like access codes, private. Aside from that, the M1 has a wide range of transceivers to support NFC, RFID, Bluetooth, WiFi, and sub-1 GHz frequencies. The hardware can also hack on infrared and has GPIO pins for wired connections. SD cards of up to 256 GB are supported to enable hacking on the go, and the battery powers the M1 for up to 14 days of use.

If you are familiar with the Flipper Zero, you will recognize that there is not much of a differentiator here between it and the M1. Aesthetically, however, the M1 goes with a more serious-looking black and white coloring scheme, and it does away with the cartoonish dolphin “cyber buddy.” Whether or not one wants the dolphin theme is just a matter of personal preference, but if the device is being used in a professional context, the M1’s design may inspire more confidence in your clients.

If you are in the market for an all-in-one multi-tool hacking device, you now have another option. You could save a few bucks and get a more professional looking device with the M1 — but you will also have to wait until July of this year for delivery. And of course there is always a risk with Kickstarter campaigns that the delivery could be delayed, or that you could even lose your entire pledge. Decisions, decisions!

Nick Bild
R&D, creativity, and building the next big thing you never knew you wanted are my specialties.
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