BlackPhone Reviewed: Secure OS Inside a Generic Design and Not Quite Cheap
The BlackPhone wants to impress the world and become the number 1 security smartphone, and this is putting them in direct competition with BlackBerry. Let’s have a look at a recent review to see how the BlackPhone fares so far.
Jamie Rigg over at Engadget has given an extensive review of the BlackPhone and we’ve decided to go through it and extract the most important points he made.
Here’s what Rigg had to say about its hardware:
“The Blackphone doesn’t look special, but the generic design almost complements the discreet nature of the device. It’s unlikely to attract the attention of an opportunistic thief scoping out tables at the local bar, for example. I doubt creating a furtive device was a conscious choice, though, and more the result of trying to keep hardware costs down.”
And here’s what were his opinions of the software, the PrivatOS:
“And now, the real reason the Blackphone exists: its privacy-focused software. The handset runs a custom fork of Android 4.4.2 KitKat with the catchy name PrivatOS (pronounced private O S). While custom builds usually layer additional features or UI elements on top of what’s already there, PrivatOS does the exact opposite.
In fact, it strips away almost everything you’re used to seeing on an Android device. You get only the bare essentials for making calls, sending messages and storing contacts, as well as a calendar, internet browser, calculator, email and camera apps. The sound recorder is almost a luxury, as is the music player and gallery app, which doubles as the video player.”
And here’s how the performance looks like:
“The Blackphone is one of only a few handsets packing NVIDIA’s quad-core, 2GHz Tegra 4i SoC, and here it’s paired with 1GB of RAM and 16 gigs of internal storage, though only around 12 and a half of that is user-accessible. There’s always the microSD slot that supports up to 128GB cards if you need more, of course.
NVIDIA has a reference device it uses to demonstrate the graphics capabilities of its mobile chip, but naturally I had to test that myself. With the Google Play store unavailable, I searched for the most intensive-looking 3D games I could find in Amazon’s app store, and settled on GT Racing 2, Angry Birds Go! and Trials Frontier. (As a side note, devices with an NVIDIA chip usually come with the TegraZone Android game store preinstalled, but I wasn’t shocked to see it omitted from the Blackphone, given no other app stores are accessible out of the box.)”
And the wrap-up:
“If privacy is important to you, the Blackphone is almost certainly what you’re after in a mobile device. Besides, you don’t have much choice currently. One thing I’m still coming to terms with, however, is the concept of selling peace of mind.
As Edward Snowden continues to leak information about how the NSA and other national government agencies were/are hoovering up every bit of personal data available to them, digital privacy has never been a hotter topic. With people wanting more control over how their data is handled, it was inevitable that products like the Blackphone would appear.”
The smartphone has obtained a score of 78 and here are the pros and cons that the review found out:
Super secure OS
Bundled with various privacy-focused apps
Includes subscriptions to several encrypted services
Capable pair of cameras
Spotty performance and app compatibility
Bundled subscriptions expire in a year
Emphasis on security trumps convenient user experience