Blackphone 2 Quick Review
If you have not heard of Blackphone before, it is because they’re not basically for regular users. Blackphone’s focus is making more secured devices for people who are more concerned about their privacy. This is basically an enterprise phone that addresses concerns on security and privacy.
Design and Construction
On the outside, the Blackphone 2 looks like any typical Android device — a solid piece of slab with a metal frame and glass-on-glass design that’s reminiscent of the older Xperia handsets. Since the first Blackphone, a lot of improvements have been made in the second generation.
There’s a 5.5-inch display with a full HD resolution and protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass. The power button and volume controls are on the right side, the micro-SIM card slot is on the left along with the microSD card tray. The 3.5mm audio port is up top and the microUSB port is at the bottom. At the back is the 13-megapixel camera with a dual-LED flash.
The Blackphone 2 is powered by a Snapdragon 615 chip with 1.65GHz octa-core processor paired with 3GB of RAM which offers very decent performance. The 32GB internal storage can be expanded further with a 128GB microSD card.
OS, UI, and Apps
What’s really at the heart of this setup is the operating system — Silent OS. At the core, it is an Android OS but heavily customized in order to become more secure and private. Right out of the box, it has 128-bit encryption and a lot of features that provide granular controls of the apps and data that is being used by the system.
Silent OS looks and works pretty much like a regular Android system (the core is based on Android 5.0 Lollipop). From the UI and and the cosmetic design, it practically just a tyical Android system. It is the stuff under the hood that offers the big difference compared to just any other Android smartphone around.
Even the virtual numeric keypad for security PIN codes are mixed randomly so its harder to decipher.
Silent Circle’s custom Silent OS is still vulnerable to attacks since it is based on Android OS but in case there are bugs or vulnerabilities, the company is very quick to send out a patch or update, oftentimes even ahead of Google’s own Nexus devices.
The system offers a multiple virtual phones feature called Spaces which allows the user to create a separate account for work and personal apps and data. This means any data or files (photos, videos, SMS and contacts) stored in one Space will not be accessible to the other Spaces.
If a user is not confident with the security of its carrier for voice calls and SMS, each Blackphone 2 comes with a free one-year subscription to the Silent Circle network. This gives the user 100 minutes of encrypted audio and video calls to non-members and unlimited for other Silent Circle users, as well as in-network texts. These communications are heavily encrypted from end to end (scrambled from the caller and then unscrambled in the receiver). Of course, the other end should be using a Blackphone too in order for this to work which is why companies who issue these types of phones need to specifically identify the individuals to be issued the handsets.
There are a couple of pre-installed Tools as well that helps in securing connectivity. The Remote Wipe feature allows you to selectively remote contents of your Blackphone or just a specific Space (perhaps just your works Space) just in case you lost your handset. You can do this by signing on to the Silent Circle website and activating the feature.
The Smart WiFi also protects communication between your device and unsecured Access Points and stops broadcasting information that could potentially leak information.
Performance and Benchmarks
Performance is decent with the Snapdragon 615 and 3GB of RAM. The device feels responsive and snappy, does well with multi-tasking and grahics-intensive games. Benchmark tests showed decent scores with Antutu benchmark giving it 26,370 points.
Battery life is unimpressive and based on our benchmark tests, the Blackphone 2 only got 6 hours and 30 minutes on a fully charged battery. It’s quite unusual considering the device has a 3,060mAh Li-ion battery and Snapdragon 615 is supposed to be a power efficient chip.
When we double checked this with our video loop test, it turns out the phone can only get around 8.5 hours of continuous playback at the same settings.
It’s pretty obvious the Blackphone 2 is not for everyone. In fact, we only know of a few people in the industry (enterprise, pharmacy, military, government) who might be in need of this device but for those who do, the features that the Blackphone 2 offers are certainly well thought out. It might be expensive at Php47,890 but if security and privacy is a major concern, then it’s quite affordable for corporate purchases.
The Blackphone 2 is currently available for purchase online here.
Blackphone 2 specs:
5.5-inch IPS LCd full HD display, 403ppi
Gorilla Glass 3
Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 1.65GHz octa-core processor
Adreno 405 Graphics
32GB internal storage
Up to 128GB via mircoSD card
4G, LTE, HSPA+
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
GPS with aGPS, GLONASS
13MP AF BSI rear camera
5MP front-facing camera
3,060mAh Li-Ion battery
7.9mm x 76.4mm x 152.4mm
What we liked about it:
* Good performance
* Better phone security
* Granular controls
What we did not like:
* Below average battery life
* Quite expensive