Silent Circle and Geeksphone announced their joint venture to build an Android smartphone which places “privacy and control directly in the hands of its users” back in January. At the time details of the handset, known as the Blackphone, were fairly scarce. However the phone has now been officially announced at MWC 2014 and is now available for pre-order at $629.
Blackphone uses a modified version of Android (called PrivatOS) along with a set of apps from Silent Circle to create a device with “unparalleled security and privacy.” Silent Circle’s apps, including Silent Phone, Silent Text, and Silent Contacts allow users to to make encrypted video and voice calls as well as send encrypted text messages. Other apps on the device allow for anonymous search, private browsing, secure cloud file storage and remote-wipe/device recovery functionality.
The phone itself will use an as-yet-unnamed quad-core processor running at over 2GHz and feature a 4.7 HD IPS screen, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, an 8MP camera, and LTE. There are also the other normal bells and whistles including Bluetooth 4, Wi-Fi and GPS. There is no mention of NFC. Is that deemed as insecure for the Blackphone?
For those not using a Blackphone, Silent Circle’s services aren’t free and user needs to subscribe and pay a monthly charge which starts at $9.95. However when you buy a Blackphone you get two years worth of Silent Circle for free. Existing Silent Circle users can add an additional two years of use to an existing subscriptions, or start new subscriptions when they activate their new phone. Since the Blackphone is less useful if the person you are trying to contact isn’t using Silent Circle’s apps, the
Blackphone also includes 3 separate 1-year ‘Friends and Family’ subscriptions for the Silent Circle suite. This means that if you get a Blackphone you can give away the subscriptions to friends and family enable you to connect with them securely.
According to the number released by Blackphone, if you factor in the cost of the different subscriptions that come free with the device then it is at least $800 cheaper to buy a Blackphone rather than buy any other Android phone plus pay for all the services.
Test units of the Blackphone will start shipping in April and the first customer release should happen in June 2014.