Blackphone preorders ship; new orders to open 7/14

The privacy-focused device, created in response to leaker Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA, sells for $629.

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Blackphone Sarah Tew/CNET

Blackphone, a privacy-obsessed smartphone developed in response to Edward Snowden's revelations about the National Security Agency's mass surveillance of Americans' phone records, started shipping Monday.

The $629 phone, created as a joint venture between Silent Circle and Geeksphone, was unveiled at Mobile World Congress in February. The device's sales pitch claims that security and privacy are put "ahead of everything else."

In order to achieve that goal, the Blackphone is based on a forked Android operating system, called PrivatOS. The operating system comes with built-in support for encryption of voice calls, video calls, and text messaging. It automatically prevents Wi-Fi hotspots from identifying personal information. A Security Center feature gives users control over a wide range of application permissions. And the device comes with both anonymizing Web browsing and VPN support.

On the hardware side, Blackphone features a 4.7-inch HD IPS screen, a 2GHz Nvidia Tegra 4i CPU, and 16GB of internal storage. It supports LTE and HSPA+ for wireless networking.

The phone's joint venture, dubbed SGP Technologies, plans to re-open orders on July 14.

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