Android phones don’t exactly have a reputation for BlackBerry-like security but one new device is aiming to change that. Blackphone, a new Android device developed by the secure communications specialists at Silent Circle and that sells for $630 off contract, has now finally started shipping.
For those of you who don’t remember, Silent Circle started teaming up with Spanish hardware manufacturer Geeksphone last year to develop a secure Android phone in the wake of revelations about the National Security Agency’s vast surveillance practices. Among other things, the Blackphone features fully encrypted voice calls, video calls and SMS with attachments; the Kismet Smarter Wi-Fi Manager, a security system that “prevents Wi-Fi hotspots from capturing Blackphone users’ wireless connection history and other information that could be used to track users’ locations”; and private encrypted cloud services through SpiderOak.
From a specs perspective the device is nothing special and it features a 4.7-inch 720p display, a 2GHz quad-core Tegra 4i processor, 16GB of storage, microSD card support, 1GB of RAM and an 8-megapixel camera. However, if you’re shelling out $630 for a Blackphone, you aren’t paying for bleeding-edge specs, you’re paying for the ability to keep your mobile communications private.
Silent Circle and Geeksphone say that although the initial stock of Blackphones sold out quickly, they will re-open the Blackphone web store on July 14th for anyone who’s interested in getting one of the devices.
The companies’ press release follows below.
Blackphone Shipping World’s First Privacy-Optimized Smartphone
Handsets now shipping to customers; Web store re-opens July 14 for new orders
GENEVA, June 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — SGP Technologies SA, the Switzerland-based joint venture of Silent Circle and Geeksphone behind Blackphone, today announced that Blackphone handsets have started shipping to the device’s first pre-order customers. SGP Technologies formally launched Blackphone earlier this year at Mobile World Congress (MWC). There is overwhelming demand for the phone’s focus on user privacy and the unmatched array of integrated features for private communications, browsing, and cloud storage that make Blackphone a category-defining leader in privacy phones. Most recently,MIT Technology Review recognized Blackphone on its prestigious list of the “10 Breakthrough Technologies” of 2014. In addition, Blackphone has won two other awards since its media launch: “The 10 Best Products at MWC 2014” and 2014 Red Herring Europe Top 100 Winner.
“We are excited to achieve this key milestone on schedule and ship a remarkable device to customers that is the result of an unprecedented combination of privacy and mobile innovations and visionaries,” said Toby Weir-Jones, CEO of SGP Technologies. “Blackphone’s arrival puts mobile privacy directly in the hands of professionals and consumers everywhere. In a world where devices and apps increasingly offer features only in return for users’ personal or sensitive information, the pent-up demand for Blackphone shows there is strong, international demand for our brand’s devices and services that stand apart by placing privacy before all else.”
Blackphone is the world’s first smartphone built from the ground up to maximize user privacy. Blackphone’s security-enhanced operating system, PrivatOS, built on Android™ KitKat, provides users protection and control over security issues without the usual compromises. The unique advantages include:
- Private communications: Blackphone features private encrypted voice and video calls and text messaging with attachments viaSilent Circle’s, Silent Phone and Silent Text apps created by Phil Zimmermann and Jon Callas, giving users the freedom to communicate securely anywhere they find cellular or Wi-Fi connections.
- Wi-Fi security: The included Kismet Smarter Wi-Fi Manager prevents Wi-Fi hotspots from capturing Blackphone users’ wireless connection history and other information that could be used to track users’ locations or patterns of activity and information about sensitive office or home networks.
- Security Center: Gives owners complete control over application permissions, allowing immediate changes without rebooting or reinstalling.
- Remote wipe and protect: A powerful remote wipe tool gives Blackphone owners further peace of mind in having the ability to control their phone’s data from anywhere in the world.
- Anonymous Web browsing and VPN: Disconnect Search is the default search provider for Blackphone, offering private browsing protection from invasive Web monitoring by hiding users’ IP address, browser cookies and personal information. Blackphone also features Disconnect’s Secure Wireless app, which is a smart VPN designed to prevent eavesdropping over Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
- Private cloud storage: Blackphone owners can access files in SpiderOak’s private encrypted cloud service right from their mobile device, knowing only they have the means to decrypt and access their private files.
Blackphone’s initial inventory sold out quickly in the months following Mobile World Congress and SGP Technologies will re-open the Blackphone Web store on July 14 to begin accepting new orders. Customers in certain countries will be able to order Blackphone handsets through the device’s carrier partners, such as KPN N.V..
For more information on Blackphone’s availability, feature-set and technical specifications, please visit the site or follow @Blackphone_ch on Twitter.