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The secure mobile company Silent Circle, which last week raised $50M and bought out the joint venture behind its Blackphone handset, has unveiled a new version of that device — though prospective customers have a bit of a wait on their hands.
The Blackphone 2 will appear in the second half of this year, providing much better specs than the initial handset that was made by Geeksphone, the joint venture partner that is now out of the picture. It will have an 8-core processor and 3GB of RAM (the quad-core original had 1GB) and will also be substantially larger, with a 5.5-inch screen (up from 4.7 inches).
Apart from making the privacy-first phone more desirable as a handset, Silent Circle has also previewed the Blackphone+ tablet, which will come later this year. Both devices will of course use version 1.1 of the PrivatOS Android fork, which features an OS-level virtualization feature for keeping sensitive material away from less-private apps, as well as a privacy-focused app store.
While its security track record is not entirely unblemished, U.S.-based Silent Circle is a very credible player, coming from people such as PGP encryption pioneer Phil Zimmermann. It offers its privacy-focused communications apps separately from the Blackphone as well as bundled with it, and it’s part of the Dark Mail Alliance that’s trying to build the successor to email.
However, it may face a challenge from a newly announced partnership between Finnish handset-maker Jolla and security outfit SSH Communications Security, which are working on a secure version of Jolla’s Android-compatible Sailfish OS, with great emphasis on the fact that theirs is a homegrown European alternative to Android-based mobile operating systems (surely a dig at Silent Circle, among others).