In a world plagued with hacking scares and corporate data leakage, the company Silent Circle attempts to combat low security standards by rolling out the new Blackphone 2 – a phone that claims to maximize security. The high price tag, however, makes it an unattainable commodity for many college students.
According to the Silent Circle website, “Silent OS is an Android-based operating system, enhanced to address mobile privacy concerns facing enterprises today … Silent OS puts privacy in the hands of you and your enterprise, without compromising productivity.”
Silent OS comes without bloatware, the unwanted software that is often included on phones by manufacturers, and claims to be free of leaky data. One unique feature of the phone, according to the website, is that it comes with the ability to make up to four separate virtual spaces. In other words, people can create separate “phones” for different aspects of their lives on the same device, with no data sharing in between – for example, one virtual space for home and one for work.
The Blackphone 2 also comes with peer-to-peer encrypted audio, video calling and secure messaging, according to Silent Circle. Peer-to-peer communication allows separate entities to connect without the use of a central administrative system, making it more secure. The phone has an advanced Wi-Fi service, which helps keep users away from risky, unsecure Wi-Fi networks. Leaving a phone’s Wi-Fi on can allow it to connect to different public networks that make it easy for hackers to see what routers a person has recently connected to; the Blackphone 2 aims to avoid this.
Another feature included in Silent OS is the ability to control security settings in apps. It gives the user the power to turn off certain information-gathering features of apps, for example, Facebook attempting to access one’s contacts. Silent OS also enjoys “the world’s fastest vulnerability management,” according to Silent Circle’s site. Essentially, owners of the Blackphone 2 will receive security updates to their Androids before other phone owners.
Aesthetically, the Blackphone 2 is your average thin, black slab. It comes with 32 GB of storage and is 3 inches wide, 6 inches tall and 0.3 inches thick and weighs 165 grams. The iPhone 6, for comparison, is 2.64 inches wide, 5.44 inches long and .27 inches thick, weighing 129 grams. The Blackphone 2’s rear camera comes with 13 MP and the front with 5 megapixels.
This phone is largely marketed toward businesspeople who have a lot to lose from hacking or data leakage. The phone comes with a sizable price tag, too. People can purchase the Blackphone 2 to the tune of $799.
“I absolutely wouldn’t buy a phone that expensive,” said senior Graciela Morilla. “I don’t consider security that important. I’m not afraid of anything on my phone being released. Even if I were a businessperson, I wouldn’t buy a phone that expensive. There are other security measures I could take.”
While the increased security features may put the Blackphone 2 on the top of the lists of many corporate leaders, it is doubtable that such an expensive phone will make its way into the pockets of college students.
“I don’t really worry about hackers because I don’t really have sensitive content on my phone, but if I did, I have an Android, so I have the ability to encrypt my phone,” said senior Christine DePope. “If there was a phone that had very poor security features, I wouldn’t buy it, but I don’t go phone-shopping with security specifically in mind.”