Hacking and spying and snooping and prying ... these are a few of our least favorite things.
For those who are concerned enough about intrusions on their electronic privacy to invest over $600 in a new smartphone, here comes the Blackphone, a "security optimized" phone that claims to provide enhanced levels of security and privacy for smartphone users.
The Blackphone was introduced in February at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. It is of Swiss design, and prides itself on bank vault-like impregnability. Blackphones that were preordered are shipping just now; new orders will be accepted starting from July 14.
Geeksphone is the maker of the Blackphone, partnering with Silent Circle, a privacy service firm. The combination of hardware and software in the Blackphone is said to be proven in government and enterprise accounts worldwide. The joint venture between the companies falls under the corporate moniker of SGP Technologies.
"Blackphone offers unprecedented value in a turnkey secure communications platform, and it's easy enough to use that anyone who's used a smartphone before will feel right at home as soon as they turn it on," said Toby Weir-Jones, SGP Technologies Managing Director.
The Blackphone, similar in shape and size to an iPhone, features a 4.7-inch HD display, a 2-GHz Nvidia Tegra 4i CPU, 1 GB RAM and 16 GB of internal storage, with up to 128 GB additional memory supported by microSDXC. It has a single micro-SIM slot, micro USB and 3.5-mm audio ports and supports Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.b/g/n. Sensors include gravity, light, proximity and magnetic, and it includes GPS. A 5-megapixel front-facing and an 8-meapixel rear camera provide the optics.
The Blackphone is operated by PrivatOS, a special edition of the Android OS that supports encryption of voice, video calls and text messaging. It also keeps Wi-Fi hotspots from grabbing personal information. Encryption and privacy are accomplished with a suite of preloaded applications from Silent Circle that cover Phone, Text and Contact information. Each app is enabled for two years before user subscription cost becomes necessary.
The basic security set of features built in to Blackphone includes remote wipe and protect; secure file transfer and storage; secure voice, video and text; a Blackphone Security Center; and secure search and browsing.
Since the Blackphone is sold unlocked, meaning that it can be ported through most cellular carriers that offer GSM service, the price of peace of mind is $629. However, the buyer is granted an additional $879-worth of software and services in the form of two years of Silent Circle Mobile encryption services, three 1-year Friend and Family Silent Circle Subscriptions, two years of Disconnect (software that detects websites that access your personal data) at 1 GB/month, two years of SpiderOak (cloud storage with privacy rights), and an international power adapter kit.