Security-themed Blackphone now available for pre-order; priced at $629

In January, two companies, Silent Circle and Geeksphone, announced plans to release Blackphone, an Android device that they claimed will be far more secure than normal smartphones. Today, they announced that pre-orders for the phone have begun for $629 (not including shipping and taxes).

For that price, users will get an unlocked 4.7 inch phone with an unidentified SoC with a 2GHz quad-core processor. It packs 2GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage, along with an 8 megapixel rear camera. However, the Android OS has been modified so much that the companies are calling it "PrivatOS".

Silent Circle will provide Blackphone with its own suite of apps but it will also include a number of exclusive programs, such as Blackphone Security Center, Blackphone Activation Wizard and Blackphone Remote Wipe. The end result is that, in theory, activities such as Internet searching and browsing, calls, texts and video chats will be private when using the phone.

Blackphone will be available for sale from a select number of wireless carriers in Europe but there's no word if any U.S. companies will sell the phone. Test units will be sent to those select carriers sometime in April and the first Blackphone devices will ship to people who pre-order it in June.

Source: Blackphone  | Image via Blackphone

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23 Comments

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For $629, I can see where the security comes from. Nobody in their right mind can afford it, so it's DEFINITELY secure if you don't even own it!

Anyone that spends that much on a stupid/smart phone, is flat out nuts anyway, IMO!

I'm going to pretend I didn't even read this story also, as just the thought of some one blowing that kind of money on this probably deserves to be compromised!

I just thought. So you know how your phone can be turned on remotely by authority's. Could you set up an android phone to boot in a form of airplane mode when turned on, with a prompt stating when it was turned on, an if you in fact authorized this?

correct me if I'm wrong since its using android source code which I believe is open source don't they have to release the source code for their os?

I could be wrong don't hurt me....

Any independent security testing/auditing done or buyers are just supposed to swallow their claims about security? I'm sure their EULA will ensure they have no liability if the phone does get hacked, even without potentially insecure third party apps installed.

wingliston said,
Long as its got any kid of usability at all, its compromised. lol.

Let me correct that for you.

Windows Phone and iOS should follow the lead of this company, so their phones can be secured as well. I know Windows Phone is the Linux of smart phones but it will be a good idea to implement features that this company has taken their version of Android phone to.

"no word if any U.S. companies will sell the phone."

lol, that's probably for the best if you're going to want true security, use voip and a secure Wi-Fi hotspot and stay off the compromised networks

*IF* (and that is a big if right now) you can trust the encryption, then this is a much better alternative: https://play.google.com/store/...ghtcrime.redphone&hl=en

Again, you are limited by the fact that you better KNOW what you are installing on your phone. LOOK at the permissions that the app needs. Windows/Linux/OSX/Unix security is no better when it comes to the end user. If you just click "YES" to any security prompt, then you will get infected. Once infected, someone could intercept you call *BEFORE* it is encrypted.

Right now, I trust NO encryption except for OTP (one time pad), and RedPhone doesn't support OTP.

EDIT: Yes, I am a paranoid freak. It isn't a matter if you are paranoid, it is a matter if you are paranoid ENOUGH.

Add "security" to the title = $200 jack up in profit. Must be the same people that came up with "All Natural" for food products.

It connects to a telco: Compromised
You download an app: Compromised
You use google play services: Compromised

Or am I missing something?

Nik L said,
It connects to a telco: Compromised
You download an app: Compromised
You use google play services: Compromised

Or am I missing something?

I was just thinking that through myself - just the telco in general is the problem. You're only as secure as the devices you're connecting to. Just because you send a secret text to someone who has an iPhone, doesn't mean all of the sudden it's more secure. You're text is now on an unsecured device.

Finally - this is Android - one of the worst in terms of security. Much better than they used to be, definitely, but still Android.

I tend to think once I've connected to the internet, I'm potentially compromised along the way to wherever I'm sending data.

The majority of security and privacy issues with Android smartphone don't come from your calls, texts, or from the operating system itself. They come through apps. The Blackphone, security apps aside, is still an Android phone, and although it will only install Google services like the Play Store if you ask it to, the third-party apps it runs are no different to those on a Galaxy S4 or HTC One. Silent Circle's answer to the Android app problem is a Security Center that gives granular control over what apps can do.

"Normally," explains Toby Weir-Jones, GM at Blackphone, "when you download an app from the Play Store, it tells you all the permissions it wants in a single aggregate list, and you only have the option to accept or decline that list in full." What Security Center does is give users the option to modify every permission every app can take advantage of. You'll be able to set system-wide permissions, like saying "no app can have access to my location data or my contact information," or set permissions on an app-by-app basis. This won't necessarily stop malware or phishing attacks, but if a user is concerned about insecure apps they're free to revoke any permissions they choose. The idea is to neutralize the risk of, for example, an app secretly transmitting data or calling premium numbers.

basically yeah. If has any tie-ins with google or its services, then it defeats its purpose. However, they could always sandbox the apps and mess with the android apis to avoid google from exploiting your phone's data.