Full disclosure: I am good friends with Phil Zimmermann, co-founder of Silent Circle. He and I worked together for many years to publish his ZRTP media security protocol as an RFC in the IETF standards body. I also helped him with his Zfone Project. I’m also friends with Jon Callas, Travis Cross, and others at Silent Circle, who collaborated with Geeksphone to produce the Blackphone.
After the Blackphone was announced back in February in Barcelona, I ordered one as soon as they started taking orders, and have pretty much just been killing time ever since then. I even had a false alarm delivery the other week when I was at the IETF conference inToronto. Another package with an address that had “Black” in it arrived, and I jumped to the conclusion that it was my Blackphone. Instead, my Blackphone arrived the day I was in Chicago at ClueCon, on a Security Round Table panel with Phil and Travis.
My first impressions are quite positive: the packaging is good, the phone is nice to hold in the hand. If anything, it feels lighter than I expected. And it is black. Included accessories are USB cable, charger with US and European plugs, and a headset.
I’ve been using Silent Circle for a while now on my iPhone, so I recognized the Silent Phone and Silent Text apps. Silent Contacts was new to me, as were the other pre-installed security apps.
It took me a little while to get Silent Phone and Text working. I had forgotten that I had to look up the Product Keys to get the Silent Circle Ronin code to activate the service and create my account. The Silent Circle apps are similar to those on my iPhone although the user interface is inscrutable. Why does it show one grey dot when I’m calling then switch to three green dots when I’m connected and ZRTP has been authenticated? What does “Secure to server” mean? Hopefully this is an easy fix to the UI to make it understandable.
Next, I need to try out SpiderOak and Disconnect.Me. Also, I haven’t put a SIM in yet. My friend James Body has given me a fantastic Truphone travel SIM that I really could have used last month during all my travels…
Look for a future post on these topics. As always, questions & comments most welcome.