The Blackphone from Geeksphone hits this summer, takes you off the grid for $629 (hands-on)
Editors' note (September 30, 2014, 1:00 p.m. PT): For a more in-depth hands-on look at the Blackphone and its security features, check out No black art to the Blackphone's quest for smartphone privacy by Seth Rosenblatt.
BARCELONA, Spain -- If you're afraid your smartphone is sharing too much of your private information, it's too late to worry because it probably is. However, paranoid smartphone users now have an option that should give them much more peace of mind. The Blackphone from Geeksphone goes beyond any phone that came before it in terms of security. It's available for pre-order now and will ship this summer for $629.
So, the first thing I think about when I hear the words "security phone" is really complicated gobbledygook that I'll never fully understand. However, Geeksphone's intent with the Blackphone is to make your privacy options as transparent as possible, while at the same time allowing for easy modification.
The UI is simple and straightforward while allowing for a great deal of granular flexibility with regard to which apps and services can access your information and which cannot. The phone doesn't track your usage habits and allows you to completely customize just how much you're willing to reveal to your apps.
It uses a modified Android interface called PrivatOS which feels a lot like Android, but with a security-first tilt. Kind of the way that the Kindle Fire is built to serve you as much media as possible, the Blackphone's interface brings all those security options that are usually hidden, directly to the forefront.
Physically, the phone is a basic black slate with a slightly curved design. It has a smooth feel and fits comfortably in one hand. There's an 8-megapixel flash-enabled rear camera and a front camera with an as-yet unrevealed resolution.
The phone houses a 4.7-inch IPS screen with a 1,280x800 resolution. It supports the usual protocols like Bluetooth 4.0, 801.11n Wi-Fi, LTE, and HSPA+. It houses a 2GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of internal RAM and 16GB of onboard storage.
A two-year subscription to Silent Circle is included, guaranteeing you encrypted phone calls and e-mails. This deal also extends to up to three friends as well, regardless of what phone they own. Other free extras include two years of Disconnect anonymous Wi-Fi, two years of SpiderOak anonymous cloud storage, and an International Power adapter kit.
The Blackphone is an interesting concept and definitely well-timed, but -- maybe more than most products -- the proof of its success will definitely be in the pudding. If it can actually do what the people behind it says it can, then I'm sure the $629 will look much more appealing. Right now Geeksphone is asking a lot for something that's yet to show its mettle.
Look for more information as we approach the summer 2014 release date.