Blackphone

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For the phone by Boeing, see Boeing Black.
Blackphone
Manufacturer SGP Technologies, SA
Type Smartphone
Release date 30 June 2014
Introductory price 629 USD[1]
Operating system PrivatOS
Power 2,000 mAh
System-on-chip used Tegra 4i[2]
CPU 2 GHz Quad Core
Memory 1 GB RAM
Storage 16 GB flash
Display 1280x800 4.7 in (120 mm) diagonal IPS LCD
Camera Rear: 8 MP with flash
Front: 5 MP
Connectivity Wi-Fi :802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4/5 GHz), GPS, Bluetooth 4.0
Online services Bundled secure voice/video/text/file sharing and VPN service
Weight 119g
Website www.blackphone.ch

The Blackphone is a smartphone developed by SGP Technologies, that will provide encryption for phone calls, emails, texts, and internet browsing. SGP Technologies is a joint venture between the makers of GeeksPhone, and Silent Circle. Blackphone provides internet access through VPN.[3] The phone runs a modified version of Android called PrivatOS, forked from Android 4.4.2, that comes with a bundle of security-minded tools.[4] On June 30, 2014, the Blackphone began to ship pre-orders.[5]

Background[edit]

The concept of an encrypted phone has long been an interest of Silent Circle founder and PGP creator, Phil Zimmerman. In a video on Blackphone's website, Zimmerman said,

I had to wait for the rest of the technology infrastructure to catch up to make it possible to do secure telephony. PGP was kind of a detour for me while waiting for the rest of the technology to catch up to make really good secure telephony possible.[4]

Aaron Souppouris of The Verge states:

The Blackphone looks like a fairly standard Android phone. It has a 4.7-inch HD (the exact resolution has yet to be announced) IPS display, a 2GHz quad-core processor, 16GB of storage, an 8-megapixel camera, LTE—pretty much everything you'd want in a smartphone, and very little you wouldn't. Produced by Silent Circle, a company with an existing portfolio of security- and encryption-related software[6]

The Blackphone also allows unsecure communications. Mike Janke, CEO and co-founder of Silent Circle, suggests there are certain calls you'll want to encrypt, but "if you're ordering a pizza or calling your grandma", it's unlikely you'll feel the weight of the NSA on your shoulders. "This is why Blackphone is so unique—it gives the user the chance to choose the level of privacy."

Blackphone will run a custom built Android OS called PrivatOS. The operating system essentially “closes all backdoors” which are usually found open on major mobile operating systems. Some major features of PrivatOS are anonymous search, privacy-enabled bundled apps, smart disabling of Wi-Fi except trusted hotspots, more control in app permissions, private communication (calling, texting, video chat, browsing, file sharing and conference calls). Geeksphone also claims the phone will receive frequent secure updates from Blackphone directly.[4]

Services Bundled[edit]

• A two-year subscription to Silent Circle’s secure voice and video calling and text messaging services, plus three one-year "Friend and Family" Silent Circle subscriptions that allow others to install the service on their smartphones.

• Two years of 1 GB-per-month Disconnect virtual private network service that includes anonymizing search in the phone’s web browser.

• Two years of SpiderOak cloud file storage and sharing, limited to five gigabytes a month.[7]

Reception[edit]

Ars Technica praised that the Blackphone's Security Center in PrivatOS gives control over app permissions, liked the bundled Silent Phone and Silent Text services anonymize and encrypt communications so no one can eavesdrop on voice, video, and text calls and Disconnect VPN and Search keeps web trackers away from your phone, anonymize your searches and Internet traffic. Ars did not like that the phone’s performance is mediocre, using a custom OS means no Google Play or any of the other benefits of the Google ecosystem, spotty support for sideloaded apps, and reliance on Amazon or other third-party app stores.[7]

The phone's original launch amount (unknown), was reported to sell out shortly after launch.[8] Blackphone has since resumed normal sales.  

References[edit]

  1. ^ Anti-NSA Blackphone Smartphone Now Available to Pre-Order for $629
  2. ^ Nvidia's Tegra chip powers ultrasecure Blackphone - CNET
  3. ^ heise.de: Das Blackphone soll die totale Überwachung stoppen ("The Blackphone is to stop total surveillance")
  4. ^ a b c Brodkin, Jon. "Creator of PGP e-mail encryption making secure Android 'Blackphone'". Ars Technica. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Blackphone now shipping to pre-order customers. Techspot. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  6. ^ Souppouris, Aaron. "Blackphone: an Android phone that puts privacy first". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "A review of the Blackphone, the Android for the paranoid]". Ars Technica. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  8. ^ Shipping Starts on Blackphone, World’s First Privacy-Optimised Smartphone | Mobile Marketing Magazine