'Secure' Phone Could Cost $15,000

John Lister's picture

A new manufacturer plans to sell ultra-secure smartphones for as much as $15,000. They won't be the most expensive ever made, but will be the costliest outside of gimmick "luxury" handsets.

Sirin Labs, a company based in the United Kingdom and Israel, has raised $72 million in investment funding. It plans to launch its first handset in a dedicated retail store next year. (Source: reuters.com)

The company has released relatively little detail about the handset, but has been working on it for almost three years. It says the big selling point is that it will offer military level security while having the functions needed by consumers, particularly senior business executives.

Military Handsets Can't Run Common Apps

Existing military handsets combine rugged and durable hardware with the highest level of encryption, usually with custom-made operating systems to make them harder to breach. That means they usually can't run common office and communications applications.

The Sirin phone will be based on the Android system, with customizations to add the security. That means it can run mainstream apps.

According to the company, the phone will initially retail for less than $20,000, with the most likely price range of different models being $10,000 to $15,000. The company's president said this price could drop over time if the technology catches on, something he likened to the market for Tesla's electric cars. (Source: techcrunch.com)

Can You Put a Price on Security?

The idea is that while the price will severely limit the number of potential buyers, it will maximize revenue from those people willing to pay for "guaranteed" security. The company hopes companies will conclude that a five figure sum is a price well worth paying given the potential costs if a rival company or hostile foreign government was able to access trade secrets.

The Sirin phone will by no means be the most expensive, with some handsets selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even in the millions. In those cases, luxury is the selling point, with the handset casings sporting precious metals and gems.

What's Your Opinion

Do you think there'll be a market for a $15,000 phone? Is it a price worth paying for senior business figures? Can even "military grade" security be enough to make it safe to use a phone for sensitive and confidential business activity?

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Dennis Faas's picture

$15,000 for a smartphone is just way too pricey. I am sure there are other ways to harden security on a smartphone using various apps and configurations. Out of the box Android is very secure, providing you don't accidentally open the wrong attachment, etc - similar to how PCs operate. Also, a "secure phone" is only as secure as it's weakest point; if it's based on Android and if Android has an exploit, that means this secure phone will likely be exploitable too - that is, until the developers catch on and fix it.

femakahuna's picture

The lock has not been built that cannot be picked. The market for this level of security is small for the $72million investment and the cost to maintain it when it is eventually exploited.

If it will run mainstream apps then insecurity is built since they all seem to require access to way too much information on the phone. Smart criminals will continue to buy cheap phones, use them once or twice without putting any personal information on them and discard them.

femakahuna's picture

The iPhone recently received all the publicity about the difficulty the FBI had in "cracking" the security. How difficult is it to access an Android phone when it is similarly locked?