The Blackphone was just announced a few days back, and the two companies Silent Circle and Geeksphone joined hands to launch the phone officially at the MWC 2014 event, and we did get a chance to do a hands-on along with an interview with Toby Weir-Jones, the Managing Director of Blackphone. Do check below on what the Blackphone offers for the users who are intending to maintain maximum privacy while doing all their regular activities on the phone.
The Blackphone presents itself with a black color to already showcase what it intends to do – maintaining privacy with the several options available for the users in the interface. It has the PrivatOS, which takes its base from the Android OS, but there is something unique about it. You are offered with a wide range of security options which enhance the way you can maintain privacy.
First of all, with the design it’s totally black and you would see the branding on the front top and on the rear side of the device. Everything else looks quite similar to what the other Android devices look like. Below the display, there is a circle which takes you to the home screen and the three buttons below the display are touch-based.
There is a special security section, where you can set the phone to understand the level of security you need, with sections such as Location, Camera & Audio, Network etc. and under each you will be able to understand which apps would use the Internet, the camera and which transmit the audio and video, and you can choose those apps to run with limited functionality or block them.
You can choose to block all the applications which are accessing the Wi-Fi data, as that compromises your personal data. Basically what the app does is – it would check for the permissions taken by the applications and based on that, it sorts the apps in different categories.
There are certain permissions such as Read Contacts, Read Call Log, Read Phone State which can be given only to a few apps which you trust and can’t avoid, but being too easy and giving access to any application would be again a problem with the security and the contacts would be readable to any application.
There is a Smarter Wi-Fi Manager which would manage the radios and Auto-learn locations – Control Wi-Fi and Bluetooth based on auto-learned locations, time ranges, and other criteria, and Automatically learn when to enable Wi-Fi based on cell tower identities. To begin learning in a new location, enable Wi-Fi normally.
Overall, there is a lot you can do to alter the settings and enhance the privacy of the data in your smartphone, and that is what the Blackphone is all about. If you really don’t care and don’t store much of the important stuff in the device, there is no point choosing this device, but if you worried even about your each phone call being heard by someone who could breach into the system and do anything, the Blackphone is a perfect security option we found. Specifications wise, it doesn’t have much to boast and everything is quite basic, but it’s not those internal specs and the design which the company is calling as the USP.
The smartphone did receive a lot of fame and appreciation around for the unique features, the PrivatOS but the pricing is still not any convincing – with the price tag of $629. But again there are bundled services coming along in the device, which are worth $879, so a win-win situation for those who care about the privacy.