If you’re reading this on a regular browser at work or home, you probably don’t need the Blackphone 2, a new smartphone that aims to be the most secure mobile device ever built. Indeed, the insanely high-tech (and expensive) Blackphone 2 is made for people who are legitimate targets of espionage or surveillance — the spy set.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t want the Blackphone 2. The 5.5-inch phone runs on Silent OS, a version of Android that’s heavily modified to keep the device and its data secure. That includes native apps and features, such as Silent Phone, that allows for encrypted phone calls and texts.
And new for the second generation of Blackphone is the security feature Spaces. Because hackers, spies, or jealous exes can use backdoors in third-party apps, or guess your Google password, Spaces lets you split your phone into multiple identities or levels. It effectively creates up to four separate phones on a single handset. So you can limit your random browsing and non-sensitive Gmail use to one space, and work-related activity to another. If villains wriggle their way into a space that doesn’t hold information to exploit, they’re no closer to breaching the ones that do. Even if you don’t go to the trouble of compartmentalizing your phone use, this handset will make it difficult for anyone to spy on you. Silent Circle claims it doesn’t have special access to its users devices, so there are no backdoors to be opened (no matter how hard the NSA might press for them). The phone’s memory is encrypted, and whenever an app tries to access your personal information, you’re prompted to agree or decline.
None of this means that the Blackphone 2 is unhackable. With enough time and resources, any device can be cracked. But this phone will ward off casual hacks and pervasive online behavioral tracking. It will also force more serious privacy threats to decide whether it’s worth pursuing your data. But who is this phone for exactly? If you’re a lawyer with big-ticket clients, or an executive at a company with aggressive industry rivals, or an agent for a rising Hollywood star, get this phone. If your employer gives you a Blackphone 2, with a pre-loaded work space (controlled by the company, not you), don’t put up a fight. It’s a quality Android handset, with 32GB of storage, the same screen resolution as the iPhone 6S Plus (1920×1800), and a fast processor. If the Blackphone 2 becomes the new Blackberry, consider it an upgrade.
And sure, this is probably a dynamite choice for criminals. Not the low-level sort, who are still better off with disposable prepaid burners (just like in the movies). This is a sophisticated device whose security features will apply to the most sophisticated lawbreakers. Again, that’s the point of this phone, and of anything that increases privacy. What and why you’re hiding is your business, until someone else tries hard enough to make it theirs. [$799; silentcircle.com]