Scared of the NSA? Security-focused Blackphone starts shipping worldwide

With so much focus on the NSA’s apparent jiggery-pokery recently and news outlets continuing to pump out endless articles on matters of mobile phone security, it wouldn’t be surprising if paranoia levels among the general smartphone-using population have risen accordingly, possibly motivating some owners to seek out a new handset with super-strong security features.

That device may have landed in the form of the Blackphone, an intriguing handset born from a joint venture involving global encrypted communications service Silent Circle and mobile phone solutions outfit Geeksphone – the company that created the first Firefox OS hardware.

The phone was announced at the start of the year and made its official debut at MWC 2014.

Updated on 06-30-2014 by Malarie: Added Blackphone ship date information for pre-order customers and future buyers.

Blackphone starts shipping to pre-order customers

After months of waiting, those who pre-ordered the infamous Blackphone will soon receive their new device. The company announced that shipping began on June 30 to pre-order customers worldwide. For those of you who have yet to buy one of these super secure smartphones, the Blackphone will be available for purchase again on the company’s website for $630 unlocked, starting July 14.

Secure, anonymous and private

Described by its makers as “a real no-excuses solution for traveling executives looking to bring-your-own-device, families concerned about personal security, and anyone else who understands the value of maintaining personal privacy rather than giving it away for free,” the Blackphone runs on a special security-oriented version of Android called PrivatOS and comes with a full suite of privacy-enabled apps, including Silent Phone, Silent Text, and Silent Contacts.

Anonymous search, private browsing, and secure cloud file storage are also part of the package, as is a remote-wipe and device recovery tool. Smart disabling of all Wi-Fi except trusted hotspots is possible, too, and the handset also offers secure video chats.

Keep in mind that after the first year of owning the phone, use of the suite and services becomes subscription based, costing $120+ over two years.

It’s all about the software, not the hardware

Specs-wise, the Blackphone features a 4.7-inch HD IPS screen, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (with no slot for expansion), LTE connectivity, and is powered by a 2GHz quad-core processor. Its primary shooter offers 8-megapixel photos, while the front-based camera sports 1.3 megapixels.

“No longer will the use of a smartphone demand acceptance of unauthorized surveillance, commercial exploitation of activity data, and the loss of privacy, security and fundamental human rights,” the handset’s makers said in a release.

The idea behind the Blackphone is bound to generate much interest among smartphone users concerned about privacy and related issues, with many no doubt keen to see security experts put it through its paces before committing.

Article originally published 02-25-2014

Updates:

Updated on 02-27-2014 by Andy: We caught a brief demo of the Blackphone at Mobile World Congress, and added several images of the prototype device.

Product Review

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the simplest entry into a smarter doorway

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 may lack the style and sophistication of premium door-dingers, but few can match its simplicity and versatility. The device, available in both wired and wireless configurations, is easy to set up and adds instant…
Smart Home

Want a smarter home? Ditch the keys with these great smart locks

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.
Computing

Data breach compromises 773 million records, 21 million passwords

A security researcher was alerted to a collection of breached data that included more than 773 million compromised records. After digging deeper, the breach was revealed to contain more than 21 million passwords.
Web

Shutdown makes dozens of .gov websites insecure due to expired TLS certificates

The US government shutdown is causing trouble in internet security. As the shutdown enters day 22, dozens of government websites have been rendered insecure or inaccessible due to expired transport layer security (TLS) certificates.
Mobile

Verizon’s deal could get you a free iPhone XR — but there’s some fine print

Verizon launched a new deal for its smartphones aimed at encouraging customers to open a new line. If you're willing and you want two new phones, you could get a free Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone XR, or Pixel 3.
Photography

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.
Mobile

OpenTable points can now be used to whittle down cost of a hotel stay

Have some OpenTable Dining Points built up? Now those points can also be used to make your own hotel discounts. OpenTable is teaming up with Kayak to use points as discounts on participating hotels.
Mobile

Get $100 discount on the Razer Phone 2 for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
Deals

REI slashes prices on Suunto, Garmin, and Fitbit Versa smartwatches

Though fitness trackers and smartwatches can get pretty pricey, REI is offering some sweet discounts on top brands. Right now, you can get a new smartwatch from Fitbit, Suunto, and Garmin for up to 35 percent off its normal price.
Social Media

Twitter suffers privacy scare as bug reveals tweets of protected accounts

If you set your Twitter account to private and you have an Android device, you'd better check your settings now. Twitter says it's just fixed a four-year-old bug that flipped the privacy switch to make the account public.
Wearables

Check out the four cool Swatch watches you can use for mobile payments

Swatch has announced its Swatchpay technology is now available in Switzerland, enabling mobile payments from your Swatch watch. It works in a similar way to Apple Pay and Google Pay. Here's everything about it.
Mobile

How to jailbreak your iPhone on iOS 12: A beginner’s guide

The latest jailbreaking tools for iOS 12 make freeing your iOS device easier than ever. This guide will teach you how to jailbreak your iPhone or iPad, and explain what jailbreaking will do for you.
Social Media

Spice up your Instagram videos by adding your top tunes to the soundtrack

Have you ever taken a beautiful video, only to have it ruined by some jerk in the background yelling curse words? Here's a list of apps you can use to add your own music to Instagram posts as well as your Story.
Home Theater

Dolby’s secret recording studio app may soon exit stealth mode

In secret testing since June, Dolby's stealth recording and social network app may soon be ready to make an appearance. Dolby 234 blends unique noise-canceling tech with Instagram-like audio filters.