Privacy-centric Blackphone to run Nvidia Tegra 4i processor

Phone to ship in June for $629

The privacy-focused Blackphone, which starts shipping in June for $629, will run an Nvidia Tegra 4i mobile processor, the phone's makers announced Monday.

The smartphone, with a 4.7-inch display, was first announced and went on pre-sale at Mobile World Congress on Feb. 24. The phone quickly sold out during its first pre-sale run, according to device maker SGP Technologies SA, a startup based in Switzerland that is a joint venture between Silent Circle and Spanish phone maker Geeksphone.

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SGP's booth at MWC was overrun, owing apparently to heightened interest in privacy after the series of leaks by former U.S. government security contractor Edward Snowden, including the National Security Agency's bulk collection of U.S. telephone records.

The choice of the Tegra 4i processor, which was not officially known until today, supports Blackphone's integrated privacy features, SGP said. Tegra chips are made by Nvidia, which competes against Qualcomm, the leader in smartphone processors.

SGP noted that the Tegra 4i has 60 GPU (graphical processor unit) cores and a quad-core CPU (central processing unit) based on the ARM Cortex A9 r4 specification and clocked at 2.0 GHz. It also has a fifth-battery saver core and uses an integrated Nvidia i500 LTE modem. The Blackphone will use the model name of BP1 and will run a custom operating system called PrivatOS that is based on Android 4.4.

SGP revealed other new details about the specs. Calling the Blackphone carrier agnostic, it supports multiple LTE bands globally, including bands 4 and 7 in the United States and Canada, which support theoretical downlinks of 150Mbps. It also runs over GSM and HSPA+. Phones pre-ordered on the Blackphone website will ship in June to purchasers as well as to carriers and resellers, but SGP didn't say which U.S. carriers would provide the phone.

The phone also includes an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera, support for 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS. A 2,000-mAh battery is included, as well as a 1,280-by-720-pixel HD display, a single micro SIM slot, and 16GB of internal storage with a microSD slot for an added 16GB. It comes in black and looks similar to many Android phones.

To take advantage of Blackphone's privacy and encryption capabilities, users must communicate via voice, video, or text with another Blackphone or an iPhone or Android phone that runs over an app called Silent Circle. SGP enhances its Blackphone device with the Silent Circle app pre-installed, anonymous browsing and mobile VPN protection from Disconnect, and private encrypted cloud storage from SpiderOak.

Included in the $629 price is a two-year subscription to Silent Circle calling, Disconnect, and SpiderOak (up to 5GB per month) secure file transfer.

This article, "Privacy-centric Blackphone to run Tegra 4i processor, ship in June," was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

This story, "Privacy-centric Blackphone to run Nvidia Tegra 4i processor" was originally published by Computerworld .

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