Blackphone 2 Delivers Secure Smartphone Improvements - InformationWeek

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8/19/2015
01:05 PM
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Blackphone 2 Delivers Secure Smartphone Improvements

Silent Circle is now accepting preorders for the Blackphone 2, its secure enterprise smartphone.

7 Hot Advances In Email Security
7 Hot Advances In Email Security
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Silent Circle's second-generation Blackphone will arrive in September. The company's new device delivers dramatically improved hardware, but also ships with a new version of Silent Circle's secure operating system.

The Blackphone 2 is for executives and mobile professionals who demand the most secure device and communications services available. The company's first phone arrived in 2014 and the follow up is better in almost every way.

Silent Circle improved the phone's design by giving it a glass front and a glass back. The new look gives the Blackphone 2 a boost in sex appeal. The phone has a 5.5-inch full HD screen, which is protected by Gorilla Glass. Under the hood, Silent Circle swapped engines for a 64-bit, 1.7-GHz octa-core processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. The phone supports high-capacity memory cards up to 128 GB. The battery is expanded to 3,060 mAh and can be charged in no time at all thanks to Qualcomm's QuickCharge 2.0 technology. The Blackphone also has a 13-megapixel camera.

(Source: Silent Circle)

(Source: Silent Circle)

The Blackphone runs Silent OS (formerly PrivatOS). Silent OS is an Android fork; it uses Google's code for the underlying platform, but skips Google Services in the same way Amazon's FireOS does. That means no Gmail, no Google Calendar, no Play Store.

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Without Gmail, what sort of email is available to the Blackphone? That's part of the rub.

Silent Circle isn't a hardware company.

True, it bought out former partner Geeksphone's share of the Blackphone business earlier this year, but Silent Circle's main product is secure communications. It offers encrypted email and messaging products and secure phone calls. Silent OS offers IT plenty of MDM hooks, and it supports major vendors like Citrix, Good, and SOTI. The Blackphone also has a client for securing WiFi connections. Without the accompanying service, the device doesn't provide the same level of security.

One of the key functions of Silent OS is the way it segregates information.

For example, the platform includes Silent Space, Enterprise Space, and Personal Space to keep work and personal information in containers and protected. Silent Circle plans to add an enterprise-run app store to the platform this year, but the company hasn't shared too many details about that just yet.

Pricing and exact availability have not been locked down.

The original handset sold for more than $600 and the follow up is likely to fall in that same range. Silent Circle's original service plans offered 100 voice minutes for $13 per month, 250 minutes for $20 per month, 500 minutes for $25 per month, or 1,000 minutes for $40 per month. The Blackphone uses VoIP -- not cellular -- to make secure phone calls.

The Blackphone 2 ships in September.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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