Blackphone offers a mostly secure Android-based smartphone for $629

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Blackphone offers a mostly secure Android-based smartphone for $629

In a perfect world, everybody's sure their right to privacy is honored. Since that's not the case, people tend to whip up special tools for protection, like the Blackphone -- a privacy-focused device whose thick veil of mystery has now been lifted at Mobile World Congress. Its creators (SGP Technologies, made up of Silent Circle and Geeksphone) said very little when the shadowy phone was announced in January, but we now know that it'll retail at $629 unlocked and has similar specs to comparably-priced Android devices. While its final components might be altered later, right now the developers are aiming to equip the device with a 2GHz quad-core processor, 4.7-inch HD IPS display, LTE connectivity, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (no microSD card slot in sight), 8-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel front cameras.

The Blackphone will come loaded with a derivative version of Android called PrivatOS that's supposedly more secure, and it'll be bundled with two-year subscriptions to a few privacy tools. These include Silent Circle's encrypted app suite (for messages, calls and contacts), a VPN, anonymous search and browsing tools, and secure cloud storage. You'll also get a free Wi-Fi analyzer and a remote wipe and recovery tool. Plus, if you place very little faith in carriers -- the Blackphone will work with any GSM carrier, though it's partnered with KPN Mobile in Europe for launch -- you'll be happy that the creators will issue software updates directly.

Now, if you're looking for a foolproof device to shield you from stalkers, hackers or, you know, government agencies, it may best to wait for more info before shelling out your cash. We still don't know whether the phone touts secure hardware, and you can only text or call people through Silent Circle's apps if they're users, as well. Sure, the device comes with one-year subscriptions to the app suite for three friends and family, but that certainly won't cover all your contacts. Also, the security only lasts as long as you use those apps -- which will cost you and your friends after the first twelve months. Blackphone general manager Toby Weir-Jones even said: "We've never made the claim we're offering an NSA-proof device, but we are offering a tool that makes a huge difference to someone who's using no privacy tools at all." With that ringing endorsement, who wouldn't want one? Good thing you can pre-order one right now and get your paws on it sometime in June.

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