After the announcement at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) back in February, Blackphone manufacturers have begun shipping to pre-order customers. The Blackphone handset is the first consumer-grade smartphone openly marketed as a privacy-centric, anti-surveillance device.
Blackphone is a joint undertaking between encrypted communications firm Silent Circle and Geeksphone, a Spanish device maker. Their partnership is ?called SGP Technologies. Following explosive revelations of former National Security Agency (NSA) employee Edward Snowden about the extent of the U.S. agency?s alleged surveillance and spying, the demand for mobile privacy-focused devices has never been higher.
The handset uses a hardened, ?security-oriented? version of Android they branded as ?PrivatOS.? After its MWC unveiling, the smartphone had been up for pre-order the following month. As of now, the company has started to fulfill those orders. The Blackphone retails for $ 629 off-contract, that price tag puts it in the upper end of the smartphone device market. Given its relatively mediocre specs, it is clear that the new model heavily relies on its privacy features to gain traction.
Upon announcement, we?ve known that the Blackphone will come with a 2 GHz quad-core processor, 4.7-inch HD IPS display, 16 GB of internal memory, 8-megapixel rear camera, and LTE connectivity. This Android smartphone will be equipped with several anti-surveillance and privacy services that users will need to subscribe to. Those services will focus mainly on Silent Text, an encrypted messaging app; Silent Phone, a secure and encrypted VoIP call service; and Silent Contacts, which encrypts the user?s contacts list so other apps won?t be able to access it.
Apart from the security features mentioned, the Blackphone will also offer third-party services focusing on the same goal. These include a secure cloud storage service called SpiderOak; Disconnect, for a VPN-anonymised web browsing; and a Wi-Fi analyser product from Kismet. As if those were not enough, the Blackphone handset also comes with a standalone SaltIM app. This is a messaging service which provides end-to-end encryption for all messages as well as voice calls ? doing all these while cloaking the network used by the subscriber. It also has the ?Global Burn? feature allowing users to wipe out message on both ends ? received and sent.
Photo Credit: ?Blackphone.ch