Anti-NSA smartphone Blackphone to launch at MWC, pre-orders begin on February 24

Last month, we came across Blackphone, an privacy-oriented smartphone designed to provide secure phone calls, browsing and messaging. What caught everyone’s attention was its alarmist dystopian video, hinting at the ongoing spying controversy that was unleashed courtesy Edward Snowden. Users may soon be able to get their hands on the NSA-proof phone as the company plans to launch it at the Mobile World Congress later this month.


Called Blackphone, the phone being built by the eponymous company, is a result of a joint venture between Silent Circle and Geeksphone. To jog your memory Geeksphone were the guys who released the first smartphones running the Firefox OS. With this launch announcement, the company has also revealed some more features of the phone. Though the Blackphone is based on Android, it runs a highly skinned fork of Android dubbed PrivatOS. The phone will work like any other phone, but gives users control over privacy and security.  One can not only make secure phone calls and send/receive data, but the device will also ensure that the content stored on the phone is secure from snooping.


As the phone runs a variant of the Android OS users don’t need a Google account for initial activation, but will be permitted to add one if they wish to use the standard Google apps. Lastly, the device will include all the full Silent Circle suite of applications namely, Silent Phone, Silent Text, and Silent Contacts. These apps, designed with keeping privacy at their core, require the user to connect to the internet using their smartphones or tablets and both parties must have the apps installed in order to keep things private between them.


The apps are subscription-based and it is believed that the Blackphone will be dependent on this premium subscription service. It also possible that this subscription cost will come bundled with the phone. Currently there are very few technical details available regarding the phone and the encryption technology used.


The company has stated that the OTA upgrades will be delivered directly by the company, and not carriers, as is the norm in many countries. The company has also said that the smartphone will be carrier and vendor independent, meaning it will be sold unlocked to give control to the user. The pre-orders for the device begin at Mobile World Congress, Barcelona starting February 24.

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