BARCELONA, Spain -- In a world of leakers, hackers, spooks, and crooks, absolute privacy seems like a pipe dream, but that's what the intriguing Geeksphone Blackphone promises: a smart phone in your pocket without putting you in the pocket of Google, the NSA, or Big Brothers of any stripe.
The Blackphone comes from Switzerland, where privacy is enshrined in the constitution. The first network to offer the phone is KPN, a carrier from the Netherlands. But you can buy it anywhere, for a flat price of $629.
The Blackphone is a 4.7-inch quad-core, 4G smart phone with an HD screen, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. It's powered by a heavily-customised and entirely customised version of Android called Privacy OS, which GeeksPhone promises will be update "much more often than you're used to" with regular Android.
Won't 'play the game'
GeeksPhone officially announced the Blackphone to a media scrum at an industry shindig Mobile World Congress on Monday. Amid a flurry of thinly veiled rhetoric aimed at the likes of Google and other companies that gather data on you and your behaviour in order to sell you more stuff, the folks behind GeeksPhone declared they refuse to "play the game."
Phil Zimmerman of privacy service Silent Circle -- a launch partner with the Blackphone -- suggested that the device is not the result of a phone company adding privacy features, but a privacy company making a phone.
A two-year subscription to Silent Circle is one of the extras included with the Blackphone, guaranteeing encrypted phone calls and e-mail for you -- and up to three friends as well, regardless of what phone they own. Other free extras include two years of Disconnect anonymous Wi-Fi and two years of SpiderOak anonymous cloud storage.
You can order the Blackphone today. It's expected to turn up in June. We got our hands on the privacy-minded phone today -- check back soon for our first take complete with hands-on photos and video.
For more of the coolest phones, tablets, and wearable technology of 2014, check out our in-depth coverage of Mobile World Congress here.