Silent Circle has launched its new Blackphone 2 Android smartphone with the promise of protecting privacy for individuals and enterprises through encryption, and giving users control over the data that is shared with carriers and app vendors.
The device runs a custom version of Google's Android operating system, albeit with Silent Circle's privacy enhancements, such as the security centre that lets users fine-tune individual app permissions to limit the data they can access, and a remote wiping feature in case the Blackphone 2 is stolen.
Blackphone 2 is built around a Qualcomm system on a chip with an eight-core processor, 3GB of memory and 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded to 128GB with micro-SD memory cards.
The 5.5-inch screen is made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and has 1920x1080 pixel resolution. It has a 13 megapixel rear camera.
Communications between Blackphone 2 users conducted via the over the top application Silent Phone and not through carriers' voice and text messaging services.
The Silent Phone app is also available for other Google Android devices and Apple's iPhone, and handles voice, text, conference calls, video messaging and file transfers.
It promises full encryption of communications, in transit and otherwise, with perfect forward secrecy to limit what can be decrypted if digital keys are stolen.
The code for Silent Phone is open for independent reviews and audited, with documented security design, Silent Circle said. Calls to non-Silent Phone users and landlines are not encrypted and secured once the data leaves Silent Circle's network.
Subscription pricing for Silent Phone starts at US$12.95 a month with 100 "Out-Circle" minutes (to standard phones) in 120 countries, going to US$39.95 a month for 1000 voice minutes. Receiving calls is free, along with communications betwen Silent Phone subscribers.
The phone forms the first part of Silent Circle's enterprise privacy platform, and is certified to work with several mobile device management systems. Silent Circle's EPP is cloud-based for global reach, with the company developing an app store and MDM plug-ins to manage privacy on devices.
Google's Android for Work enterprise productivity suite is supported by Blackphone 2, along with the Play app store, and work/private areas device partitioning.
Blackphone 2 is currently only available in North America, with LTE 4G wireless frequency bands optimised for that region. It will sell for a recommended retail price of US$799 (A$1145).
Silent Circle did not say when the Blackphone 2 would be available in other markets such as Australia.