Silent Circle aims at the enterprise market with Blackphone 2

The new phone's features make it more enterprise-friendly than its predecessor

Silent Circle's second privacy-focused device, the Blackphone 2, is designed to meet the management and security needs of enterprises, while not alienating workers who will end up using it for their personal affairs as well.

The phone, launched Monday, integrates with Google's Android for Work program, which allows companies to manage and secure the Android devices of their employees. The phone also works with major device management platforms including those from MobileIron, Citrix, Good and SOTI.

One of the most important new features of Blackphone 2 is called Spaces and allows users to create virtual phone environments with different security settings.

Users can have separate spaces for work and personal use, with a different selection of apps and file storage that is separated using a hardware-assisted mechanism. Companies can also create and manage their own enterprise space on their workers' Blackphones.

Blackphone runs PrivatOS, an operating system based on Android that was created by Silent Circle to provide more granular control over security and privacy settings.

The PrivatOS Security Center can be used to manage spaces, but also provides fine-grained control over each installed application's permissions. Users can remove permissions that they feel some apps shouldn't have -- and many Android apps do ask for excessive permissions.

Silent Circle is so confident in the OS's ability to limit what applications can do on the device that they've included support for Google Play in Blackphone 2. This opens up the whole Android app ecosystem to Blackphone users, something that wasn't available on the first device.

The new phone also gets encryption by default, which is enabled during the initial setup; Silent Circle's encrypted voice, text, video conferencing and file transfer service, and over-the-air firmware updates.

The Blackphone 2 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor, a 5.5 inch full HD display, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. There is a microSD card slot for storage expansion and decent cameras both in the back and at the front, 13 megapixels and 5 megapixels respectively.

The device's $799 retail price puts it in the range of high-end Android devices, even though hardware-wise it's not on par with some of them. Blackphone's value, though, comes from the security-focused software and services that are bundled with the device.

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Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
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