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Tougher security bolsters the Blackphone (pictures)

For a phone with mid-tier hardware, the Blackphone punches high with nearly $900 worth of security and privacy tools. Here's what using the phone looks like.

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Seth Rosenblatt
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1 of 6 Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

Blackphone bets on privacy

The Blackphone is a mid-tier Android-powered smartphone in terms of hardware, but it comes with nine services designed to protect your privacy.

To put its privacy skills to the test, I toted the Blackphone everywhere for three days at DefCon in Las Vegas in August.

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2 of 6 Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

Zimmermann takes another stab at privacy

Phil Zimmermann, who created the encryption tool Pretty Good Privacy in the 1990s, is looking at making smartphones safer as his company Silent Circle is co-developing the Blackphone.

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3 of 6 Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

No encryption by default

Although the Blackphone's Activation Wizard strongly encourages users to encrypt their phones, it's not required.

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4 of 6 Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

Blackphone makes your Wi-Fi smarter

The Blackphone comes with Kismet's open-source Smarter Wi-Fi Manager, a free tool that makes sure you don't accidentally hop on the wrong public network.

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5 of 6 Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

Encrypted phone, encrypted traffic

Another included Blackphone app is Disconnect's Secure Wireless virtual private network. It gives you 1GB of free VPN use per month and will protect both mobile data and Wi-Fi.

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6 of 6 Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

Tame those permissions

The Blackphone gives Android users something that Google hasn't yet -- per-app permission control. If you don't want Facebook to have access to the phone's GPS or camera, all it takes is one tap.

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