Silent Circle, a company that makes secure smartphones and communications products, just launched its latest product: an Android smartphone designed for privacy obsessives. The Blackphone 2 is a $799 device with access to the Google Play store–more or less designed as a personal phone that is secure enough for work purposes.
According to Silent Circle CEO Bill Conner, the Blackphone 2 has a target audience that ranges from government employees to corporations afraid of large-scale hacks and celebrities worried about their conversations being monitored. Silent Circle intends for customers to find the phone easy to use, while also providing built-in privacy controls and powerful encryption.
The phone has separate virtual workspaces for recreational and work usage, and it gives employers granular control over what information is emitted through it. Conner says that level of control is one of the main factors that separates Silent Circle’s product from the competition: The Blackphone 2 runs a modded version of Android called Silent OS, which is designed for use by privacy-conscious Android users. Silent Circle, which Fast Company named one of this year’s most innovative companies in consumer electronics, is staking its business model on enterprise customers who are willing to pay a premium for a more secure alternative to enterprise-friendly phones offered by firms like Apple and Samsung.
When it came to mobile devices, the enterprise privacy space once belonged to BlackBerry. In fact, just last week, the Canadian smartphone manufacturer announced its first Android phone, which will feature BlackBerry’s trademark physical keyboard. But newer competitors like Silent Circle, along with larger phone manufacturers, have in recent years encroached on BlackBerry’s territory with secure, business-friendly smartphones of their own. As Fast Company wrote earlier this year, Silent Circle is specifically taking aim at BlackBerry’s dwindling user base, which now largely consists of enterprise customers.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified the name of Blackphone’s operating system. It is Silent OS.