Privacy-focused Blackphone smartphone starts shipping

The Android-based Blackphone secure smartphone has started shipping to those who pre-ordered one earlier in the year.

Geneva-based SGP Technologies, who manufactures the device, and Silent Circle, a provider of encrypted communications services, launched the device at Mobile World Congress in February.

The Blackphone runs on a version of Android called PrivatOS and features Silent Circle's secure phone, text, and contacts suite of apps.

In addition, the Blackphone comes preloaded with other third-party secure applications including Kismet Smarter WiFi Manager, to prevent users' browsing history and Wi-Fi hotspot details being leaked to hackers, and anonymous web search, private browsing and secure storage.

Disconnect Secure Wireless for offers virtual private networking and SpiderOak allows users to take advantage of encrypted cloud storage.

The Blackphone features remote wipe to delete all user data from the device if it's lost or stolen, and a Security Center feature that allows users to control the security of each app via their permissions, such as location-based apps that could easily reveal your location.

A selection of third-party apps will also be pre-installed, although Google Play is not among them, so users won't have access to everything Android offers unless they sideload it, no doubt voiding the device's warranty.

In terms of hardware, the Blackphone features a 4.7-inch IPS screen with 16GB storage and external microSD support. The smartphone can run on LTE networks or HSDPA+ and for creative types, there's an 8-megapixel camera round the back, with a 5-megapixel camera on the front of the device.

The device runs on a 2Ghz NVIDIA Tegra 4i quad-core system-on-a-chip coupled with 1GB LPDDR3 RAM, and is available for $629 (367), although the device is currently out of stock.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.