Consumers looking for a little more privacy can now preorder the Blackphone 2. It’s a smartphone that mobile manufacturer Silent Circle claims can keep users' apps, data and communication secure.
At the center of it is Silent OS, a custom version of Google Android built with various security features and apps, including peer-to-peer encrypted VoIP calling, messaging and address book. It also includes a smarter Wi-Fi feature to protect the device against insecure wireless networks.
While Silent Circle’s phone apps still send data over a standard cellular or wireless data connection, it functions like a highly encrypted Skype -- routing encrypted calls through its network in Canada and out to other Silent Phone users. Blackphone owners using the Silent Phone app can also make calls to users outside the network, while encrypting and masking the source of the call, according to Ars Technica. To protect its users, Silent Circle doesn’t have access to the encryption keys for communications made on its network, similar to how Apple protects data stored on its users’ iPhones.
Additionally, the phone allows for the creation of what it calls “Spaces” -- a virtualization feature that allows users to have separate sections of the phone for work and personal lives. No data is shared between each space, so owners of a Blackphone 2 can delete the space without worrying about losing data stored in one of the other virtual phones. And if the Blackphone 2 is lost or stolen, it can be remotely wiped.
Silent Circle also offers its encrypted phone and messaging apps as standalone products for iOS and Android. The caveat is that if you go that route, it charges a separate subscription fee to access the same apps. With the Blackphone 2, it includes a two-year subscription for its communications apps.
Internally, the Blackphone 2 comes with fairly standard specs for an Android device: 5.5-inch 1080p display with Gorilla Glass cover, 64-bit octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 3060 mAh battery, microSD card support and 13MP camera.
The Blackphone 2 was first previewed in March by Silent Circle. Though the company hasn’t officially revealed a price for the phone, it has said it expects the smartphone to sell for around the same price as the previous model, which retailed for $629. The phone is expected to ship in September, following preorders.