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Blackphone 2 Is Now Available For Pre-Booking

In today’s world, privacy and security are the two things that hover over everyone’s mind. Blackphone, a joint venture between Silent Circle and Geeksphone, that was released last year, was the first Android phone manufactured for those who wanted more security and privacy.

Blackphone was intentionally made keeping in mind privacy and security at the forefront and is run on a forked version of Android previously called PrivatOS and now renamed “Silent OS,” which puts it more in line with the company’s other “Silent” products. Thanks to the encryption and special software, all calls and texts made with the phone are secure from all the inquisitive eyes.

Recently, Silent Circle who acquired Geeksphone’s share of the business released the Blackphone 2 earlier this year at Mobile World Congress. However, there was no clarity as to when would be the new phone available. The company quietly announced that you can preorder the BlackPhone 2 now, ahead of its September release.

The original Silent Circle device, the Blackphone, was very much a mid-range Android device when launched. However, Blackphone 2, the privacy-obsessed phone has more mid-range specs this time around.

The original Silent Circle device features a 4.7-inch, 720p display, a 2.0 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 4i processor and comes with 1GB of RAM. It includes a number of Silent-branded applications for secure, end to end, encrypted communication including voice, messaging and email. These applications work best when used in conjunction with another Blackphone. Customers also receive one year free subscription with the Blackphone.

On the other hand, Blackphone 2 comes with a 5.5-inch display with 1080p (1920×1080 pixels) resolution along with a Gorilla Glass 3 display. The device features a octa core 64-bit processor coupled with 3GB of RAM. It comes with an in-built storage of 32GB, which can be expandable with a microSD card.

The device is powered by a 3,060mAh battery and it will also have Quick Charge 2.0 capability. It will support 3G, GSM, WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth. On the camera front, Blackphone 2 will feature a 13MP rear camera, while the front-facing shooter will be 5MP.

Silent OS is a security-and privacy-focused OS that comes without bloatware, carrier software or other leaky data, according to the company. The OS supports “Spaces,” a feature that allows users and companies to create isolated operating system accounts that don’t interact with each other and therefore, remain more secure.

Each virtual phone can be customized to your liking and no data is shared between them. This is perfect not only for work but also for play and other family members. Blackphone 2 is also compatible with Google’s Android for Work program.

One advantage that Blackphones hold over other Android smartphones is that security patches can arrive much more quickly. Silent Circle promised to patch discovered security bugs within 72 hours, and in the past, the company has managed to live up to this promise.

However the Blackphone 1 was not so secure as Silent Circle claimed it to be. It was hacked in 5 minutes flat at the DefCon in 2014 and in 2015, it was reported that the Silent Circle messaging app called Silent Text was vulnerable to flaw.

The security flaw was present in Blackphone’s secure text messaging application, Silent Text, which is bundled with the phone and is also available for free on Google Play.

The pricing for the Blackphone 2 is unknown and Silent Circle directs the interested customers to contact Silent Circle’s sales team for more information or for a pre-order.

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Gadgets

Huawei launches its new MediaPad M5 tablets


Tablets may not be the most exciting product category these days, but they also aren’t quite as dead as some pundits would like you to believe — and for Huawei, they are actually a growing business. Indeed, the company argues that it’s now the third largest tablet maker in the world. It’s no surprise then that the company today unveiled two (or three, depending on how you want to count) new tablets under its MediaPad brand at its annual Mobile World Congress press conference in Barcelona.

Unlike Huawei’s new MateBook laptops, which feature a rather odd camera that’s built into the keyboard, we’re talking about some pretty standard tablets here.

The new MediaPad M5 tablets will come in two sizes: 8.4 and 10.8 inches, starting at 349 and 399 Euro respectively. For the most part, the smaller and larger tablets have exactly the same specs, with 2560×1600 displays (for a 359 and 280 PPI rating, respectively), Kirin 960 quad-core processors, 4GB of RAM and either 32, 64 or 128 GB of storage space. They also come with pretty standard 8MP front cameras and 13MP rear cameras, all the usual sensors (including a fingerprint sensor) and Android 8.0. All of the SKUs also offer an SD card expansion slot that can bring the total on-board storage up to 256 GB.

There is a third version, too, the 10.8-inch MediaPad M5 Pro, which features the exact same specs as the regular 10.8-inch M5, but with added support for Huawei’s M-Pen. As the company stressed during a briefing ahead of the event, the pen features 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and support for tilting and shading. The Pro will also support a detachable keyboard and offer a desktop view with expanded file management features.

All versions of the tablet are available in, as Huawei notes, “two iconic colors: Space Gray and Mystic Silver.” LTE support is an option on all versions, too.

We had a bit of time with all of the tablets ahead of today’s announcement. It’s hard to get excited about tablets these days, but the M5’s look like perfectly solid choices if you’re in the market for an Android tablet, with both the build quality and screens being the stand-out attributes here.
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Gadgets

Watch HMD unveil Nokia phones live right here


HMD is holding a press conference at MWC in Barcelona to showcase some Nokia-branded phones. The conference starts at 4:00 PM CET (3:00 PM GMT, 10:00 AM EST).

HMD licenses the Nokia brand so that the company can release smartphones under the Nokia brand. It isn’t the company we used to know and love, but it still says Nokia. So get ready for some new Nokia phones running Android.

You can check it out live via HMD’s official stream above, and stay tuned on TechCrunch.com for ongoing coverage of all the news coming out of MWC.


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Gadgets

Watch Samsung’s MWC conference live right here


Samsung’s press conference at MWC in Barcelona is happening today. The conference starts at 6 PM CET (5 PM GMT, 12 PM EST, 9 AM PST). You can also check out our liveblog to get our commentary on Samsung’s news.

And of course, everybody is waiting for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. Details about the company’s new flagship devices already leaked, but we don’t know much about new software features. You don’t want to miss this one — Samsung’s conferences are always full of surprises.

You can check it out live via Samsung’s official stream above, and stay tuned on TechCrunch.com for ongoing coverage of all the news coming out of MWC.


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