Silent Circle has released the Blackphone 2, its second smartphone with an emphasis on privacy and security.
First announced at MWC in March, the Blackphone 2 introduces support for Google services - something that was missing from the original Blackphone due to security concerns. As a result, the new handset can now download apps from the Google Play store, and is compatible with Google's Android for Work program. The latter represents Silent Circle's attempts to target enterprise users as well as security-minded consumers, as does the Blackphone 2's certification with multiple mobile device management (MDM) platforms, including MobileIron, Citrix, Good and SOTI.
The Android-based Silent OS allows users to tweak app permissions from its Security Center, where all security and encryption settings can be customised. The Blackphone 2 also enables the creation of separate sandboxes for personal, business and social data, named Spaces, which can be remotely wiped if it gets lost or stolen. Furthermore, it comes pre-loaded with the Silent Phone app, which adds a layer of encryption to voice and video calls as well as text messaging and file transfers.
"Today our privacy is increasingly threatened by governments, businesses and individuals," said Silent Circle president and CEO Bill Conner.
"In addition, the growing number of companies where employees work on their own devices in and out of the office means that it is ever more vital to build smartphones that deliver on privacy. People and enterprises want to take back control of their privacy but too often they don't know how, or they feel they must compromise too much - that's why the time is right for Blackphone 2."
As for specs, the Blackphone 2 is a significant upgrade on the first Blackphone in multiple respects, featuring a larger 5.5in display, 32GB of internal storage - expandable via microSD - and a 13MP rear-facing camera.
The octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, comprised of four 1.7GHz cores, four 1.0GHz cores and 3GB of RAM, is also an improvement on the original's 2GHz quad-core chip.
However, it does not come cheap, with the Blackphone 2 launching with an RRP of $799. The latest handset is out in the US now, and will be coming soon to the UK market.
Despite the hefty price tag, the Blackphone 2's distinct emphasis on protecting user data gives it a considerable advantage over consumer handsets in the enterprise space; indeed, it is one of five nominees in the V3 Technology Awards' Best Business Smartphone category.
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