Silent Circle Wants To Be Your Go&To For Secure Android Phones

29 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Silent Circle Wants To Be Your Go-To For Secure Android Phones.

Silent Circle, a company that makes secure smartphones and communications products, just launched its latest product: an Android smartphone designed for privacy obsessives. Featuring a more premium design than its predecessor, the 5.5-inch 1080p handset is covered in Gorilla Glass 3 and runs a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 chip. The Blackphone 2 is a $799 device with access to the Google Play store—more or less designed as a personal phone that is secure enough for work purposes. In exchange for the extra money, users will get one of the most secure Android phones out there, built on an Android fork known as PrivateOS that’s designed to offer as little attack surface as possible.

The phone’s Silent OS 1.1 software is built on Android, but boasts default full device encryption, and lets users control and fine-tune individual app permissions and data access. The phone has separate virtual workspaces for recreational and work usage, and it gives employers granular control over what information is emitted through it. We were impressed by an earlier model Blackphone at Mobile World Congress last year, although there are plenty who are skeptical of the phone’s privacy promises.

Like every computer, it still has vulnerabilities, and many of PrivateOS’s privacy defaults could be achieved by a determined user on a far less expensive phone. It is not about candy-colors, emoji keyboards, curved screens or ‘the next big thing,'” Silent Circle co-founder Mike Janke said, taking a shot at popular iOS and Android devices. “It’s about security, privacy and protecting your digital life, plain and simple.” During the spring’s MWC, Silent Circle also announced the BlackPhone+, a 7-inch tablet that shares many of the same security and privacy-minded features found on the company’s smartphones. Silent Circle, which Fast Company named one of this year’s most innovative companies in consumer electronics, is staking its business model on enterprise customers who are willing to pay a premium for a more secure alternative to enterprise-friendly phones offered by firms like Apple and Samsung.

The way it handles app permissions is smart: Instead of forcing people to accept or decline app requests for access to personal data, the phone lets you pick and choose which permissions you want to allow. In fact, just last week, the Canadian smartphone manufacturer announced its first Android phone, which will feature BlackBerry’s trademark physical keyboard. But newer competitors like Silent Circle, along with larger phone manufacturers, have in recent years encroached on BlackBerry’s territory with secure, business-friendly smartphones of their own. Besides app permissions, you do get a respectable suite of privacy features for your money: Silent Circle’s PrivateOS 1.1 has a compartmentalized UI, putting up a virtual wall between the stuff you do when you’re working and what you do when you use the phone privately. As Fast Company wrote earlier this year, Silent Circle is specifically taking aim at BlackBerry’s dwindling user base, which now largely consists of enterprise customers.

Blackphone 2’s Silent Phone service makes encrypted calls and messages easy, and its Smart Wifi Manager prevents your phone from connecting to untrustworthy wifi. Blackphone 2 has decent but unexceptional hardware— a 5.5-inch screen, a 13 MP camera—and I’d be surprised if anyone bought it for its looks alone.

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