Blackphone Android phone: The smartphone for the privacy aware
Privacy is in a funny place at the moment. On the one hand as a society with are being more and more careless with our private data, sharing everything from photos, running stats, contacts and much more on the internet without a care in the world, on the other we are becoming more and more aware that we are being watched by "big brother" as stories like PRISM and the work of Edward Snowdon continue to make headlines.
Perhaps capitalising on this, or the continual decline and demise of BlackBerry, a new security focused offering has come on to the market - this time for Android users.
"We wanted to deliver not just the best privacy, but the best total package,” said Toby Weir-Jones, SGP Technologies’ Managing Director, the company behind the device.
Dubbed the Blackphone and available in the summer, the new phone will have security and encryption at the heart of what it does, like nothing you would have seen before, making services like Samsung's Knox or BlackBerry's Enterprise Server efforts look decidedly rudimentary.
There are two elements to the Blackphone.
The first is the handset. It is a fairly low-key looking device with a mid-range spec sheet to match. A 2 Ghz quad-core processor married with 2GB of RAM and a 4.7-inch HD IPS display, the phone comes with 16GB of memory, LTE support and 8 megapixel camera.
The small company has opted to make the phone themselves rather than just provide software so it can control the encryption and security elements a lot tighter and that means that you have to go with what it's created rather than simply running this off a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S5 or a Sony Xperia Z2.
The main focus though is the software that has been drilled into the Android operating system blocking out cross sharing of data and even making sure your calls are encrypted up to the point of hitting the phone network. This is proper Enemy of the State stuff.
Once you've gone through the opening salvo of setup instructions (similar but slightly different to Android's standard setup) you can start setting up the range of Silent Circe services that come with the phone.
Silent Circle, a third-party subscription service allows users to make phone calls, and send text or video chats with another Silent Circle members. The transmission is secured and encrypted end-to-end from the device to other Silent Circle users whether they are also on a Blackphone, iPhone, or other Android device.
To get you started you get two years of Silent Circle, three years of Friends and Family Silent Circle subscriptions, two years of Disconnect, and two years of SpiderOak, and other features like the ability to manage Wi-Fi all of which when added together make for an incredibly secure and private offering.
If you aren't really sure what any of that does or means, don't worry. The end combination of the software means you can ban apps from accessing location or your contacts or even stopping the phone looking for Wi-Fi hotspots that you haven't set.
Silent Circle's applications can only offer peer-to-peer encryption when you're calling another Silent Circle user, and you need to pay Silent Circle to be a user - which you get free with the phone for the first couple of years, but the people you phone will either also have to have bought the phone, or subscribed to the Silent Circle service. That costs $10 a month.
The blackphone isn't going to be for everyone, but the people that really feel they need to worry about the emails they have on their phone, the calls they make, the the contacts they have in their contacts book, this is something really worth looking into. For most, though this will be overkill, still that's not something to complain about.