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


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.

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