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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
# no peeking
This smartphone wants to prevent anyone from spying on your calls and texts
BlackPhone 2 offers encryption by default and allows users detailed control over app permissions.

THE FOLLOWUP TO a privacy-focused smartphone which allows users to control apps permissions at a minute level has been launched today.

The Blackphone 2, designed by Swiss security company Silent Circle, is designed to protect users against surveillance and attacks by offering encryption by default and can be wiped remotely.

The smartphone runs on a modified version of Android Lollipop (5.1.1), allowing users to fine-tune the amount of access an app, site or service has to their data.

Blackphone 2 Silent Circle / YouTube Silent Circle / YouTube / YouTube

While the next version of Android, which is called Marshmallow, allows users to control app permissions, BlackPhone 2 allows users to dive deeper, controlling anything that an app has access to like the vibrate function or data when connecting to WiFi.

It also allows people to create ‘spaces’, profiles that allow different permissions for apps depending on what the phone is being used for.

Silent Circle / YouTube

The original, which was released in 2014, offered the same functionality, but was criticised for lack of functionality and no access to the Google Play store. This version allows full access to Google Play – and has been endorsed by Google itself and follows the pure version of Android closely.

So far, the response to Blackphone 2 has been positive with praise being directed at its privacy features and its ease of use.

ZDNet says it an “elegant handset… [that has] a whole lot of potential” but questioned whether it would be able to appeal to security-minded people and pick up from Blackberry, which is still the standard for smartphone security despite its woes.

Wired say that while you’ll be trading in some performance for increased privacy, despite the 3GB of RAM, it’s not a deal-breaker. It cites the deep dive into app permissions and what it can reveal as one major reason for purchasing one.

Some of the finds are surprising, like the social networking app that wants the ability to access and delete your phone’s call log, or the fact that almost every app, even the most basic of utilities, wants to see your contacts. Most of the permissions sliders are meant to protect your privacy and to keep your phone secure, but some are just downright useful.

Forbes called it “slick“ but criticised the high price point, $799 (€714) for an unlocked version in the US, which it feels would put the average consumer off buying one. It did praise the extended privacy controls, saying that its success would depend on how much people would value privacy when considering a device.

The device is only available in North America for now but a European release is on the cards.

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