Blackphone – the spyproof love child of Silent Circle and Geeksphone – seems to be set for a February cloak pull, after ITProPortal received an invite to the "Blackphone presentation at the MWC 2014 Barcelona."
Blackphone is the mobile device for those who spend their evenings sat in their basement with their specially made tin foil hat safely on head. The first smartphone to run free of carrier and vendors, it places privacy and control directly in its owners hands through its PrivatOS operating system.
Based on Android, the OS allows users to make and receive phone calls, exchange texts, transfer and store files, use video chat and VPN enabled private searches without fear of government surveillance. It's a direct response to the NSA's spy practices uncovered by whistle-blower Edward Snowden last year.
Fittingly, little is currently known about the elusive device, but the invite suggests it is at MWC that we can expect to learn the design, specs and features of the phone, getting our first glimpse of everything it is capable of.
Of particular interest will be the price. Blackphone will allegedly have similar specs to current flagship smartphones on the market, and according to the device's creators it will also be GSM enabled.
Personally, this seems to be a phone aimed at a niche customer base – something that WH Smith would keep behind the counter and you'd have to ask for. It's marketed specifically at those people paranoid about government surveillance, and consequently I think the price could be slightly higher than a more commercialised equivalent product.
The other issue lies in the fact that whilst you can send an encrypted text or phone call, the intended recipient must have an encrypted device too to be able to make sense of it. In other words, the main selling point of the Blackphone, its ability to keep your correspondence private, is severely limited.
Whether the device turns out to be a relevant political statement or just a gimmick, pre-ordering should begin later this month. So if you really do relish the idea of the Blackphone, you have one week to persuade your friends to give up their HTC Ones, Nexus 5s and Galaxy S4s, or you may have a shiny new phone but no one who can understand your texts.