Blackphone and 'Snowden Phone': New smartphones give you "total privacy"

As we become more attached to our smartphones and keep an increasing amount of business and personal information on them, the level of security that your phone offers is becoming increasingly important.

Two new devices aim to target this insecurity around privacy. The Blackphone and the Snowden Phone have been launched, claiming to offer privacy against hacking, as well as Internet tracking and viruses.

The Blackphone was launched at MWC 2014 and is a product from SGP Technolgies; a joint venture between Silent Circle - an encrypted communications firm – and Spain-based smartphone firm GeeksPhone.

MORE: MWC 2014 – highlights, new phones and tablets

It has been described by its makers to be the "world's first smartphone which places privacy and control directly in the hands of its users".

Available to pre-order for $629, the Blackphone uses a combination of operating system and application tools to offer "unparalled security and privacy" to anyone who wishes to keep their personal information safe.

It runs on PrivatOS, which is in itself built on Android. This is paired with Silent Circle's suite of apps – including Silent Phone, Silent Text; and Silent Contacts. Silent Phone and Text services offer encrypted voice and video calls, as well as text messaging on mobile devices.

Under the cover, Blackphone also features a 2GHz SoC (system on a chip), a 4.7in HD IPS display, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of onboard storage and 8- and 1.3-megapixel rear and front-facing cameras.

Phil Zimmermann, co-founder of Silent Circle, said: "Now that mobile technologies are mature enough, we couldn't be more proud of the launch of Blackphone, the first mainstream, fully-integrated secture communications phone, designed for anyone to use as easily as the legacy phone they're used to already."

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Meanwhile, the second new smartphone to be launched with the offer of similar privacy claims, nicknamed the 'Snowden Phone' – or to give it its proper name, the FreedomPop Privacy Phone, which is based on FreedomPop's own VoIP network.

The device features 128bit-encryption – used by banks and Government agencies. Application and Internet data is sent through a secrure VPN (virtual private network), protecting users from viruses, phishing websites and other malware.

The Snowden Phone is based upon the Samsung Galaxy S2 and lets users surf the web anonymously, as well as change their number when and as many times as they want.

FreedomPop's new handset costs $189. It comes bundled with unlimited voice and texts, as well as 500MB of data for three months. Users are required to pay $10 per month after this.

Steven Sesar, COO at FreedomPop, commented: "Large carriers don't have the flexibility, desire or creativy to invest in privacy."

"We don't agree with this approach and felt it was up to us to create a truly private mobile phone service at an affordable price."

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by Max Langridge

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Max is a staff writer for What Hi-Fi?'s sister site, TechRadar, in Australia. But being the wonderful English guy he is, he helps out with content across a number of Future sites, including What Hi-Fi?. It wouldn't be his first exposure to the world of all things hi-fi and home cinema, as his first role in technology journalism was with What Hi-Fi? in the UK. Clearly he pined to return after making the move to Australia and the team have welcomed him back with arms wide open.