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Mobile privacy obsessives with $800 to spend can buy the Blackphone 2 today

You may not have heard of the Blackphone, but it made a splash among privacy-conscious buyers. Released last year as a result of a joint venture between Silent Circle and Geeksphone, it was the first Android phone geared toward those who want more security and privacy. All calls and texts made with the phone are secure from prying eyes, thanks to encryption and special software. Silent Circle recently acquired Geeksphone’s share of the business and unveiled the Blackphone 2 earlier this year at Mobile World Congress

Updated on 09-28-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in pre-order details, spec confirmation, and price for the Blackphone 2

Available to by in the U.S. now

If you’ve been waiting to buy the Blackphone 2, here’s your chance, at least if you live in North America. The phone can be purchased for $800 SIM-free and unlocked through the company’s website, and will be available in the UK and other parts of the world in the near future.

Related: Blackphone returns for round 2 with the Blackphone 2 and Blackphone+ tablet

Upgraded Specs

Niche phones like the BlackPhone 2 usually bring sub-par specs. That was the case with the original Blackphone, but Silent Circle stepped up its game with the Blackphone 2. The privacy-obsessed phone has more mid-range specs this time around.

For starters, the Gorilla Glass 3 display gets bumped up from 4.7 inches to 5.5 inches, and the resolution increases from 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) to 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels). The processor is a Snapdragon 615, 1.7GHz octa-core processor. Last year’s model featured a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4i. The phone’s RAM also got bumped up to 3GB from 2GB.

Blackphone 2

A MicroSD slot is included again this year for extra storage, but the entry-level amount of built-in storage increases to 32GB from last year’s measly 16GB.

Related: Blackphone is now under one company’s direction, flush with $50 million in new funds

While the special privacy features may be the most important aspect of the phone for most BlackPhone 2 buyers, the camera performance is also paramount. The Blackphone 2 has a 13-megapixel rear camera, up from 8 megapixels last year. The resulting photos should turn out better. The front-facing shooter remains the same, with 5 megapixels.

The battery has seen a capacity bump from last year’s 2,000mAh to a 3060mAh cell, plus it has Quick Charge 2.0 capability, which is important for road warriors. The Blackphone 2 supports 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE GSM networks around the world, and is suitable for either AT&T or T-Mobile in America.

New Silent OS software

Last year’s Blackphone featured a forked version of Android called PrivatOS, but it’s now known as Silent OS. PrivatOS was based on KitKat, so we can only presume that Silent OS is based on Lollipop. The downside to PrivatOS was that it didn’t offer Google services, but Silent OS does, so you will now get all the same Google apps that Android users are familiar with like Chrome, YouTube, Maps, and of course, Google Play.

A new feature called Spaces allows users to create multiple, separate “virtual phones” on the device. Each virtual phone can be customized to your liking and no data is shared between them. This is perfect for work, play, and other family members. Blackphone 2 is also compatible with Google’s Android for Work program.

Related: What is the ‘Stagefright’ hack? How to defend yourself

Since the Blackphone 2 is sold as an unlocked device, it’s free from any bloatware or carrier apps. Silent Circle can update the software much quicker than other Android manufacturers, since carriers aren’t involved.

Article previously published on 08-18-2015