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Smartphones

Seven of the most secure phones for travel – how safe is your smartphone from snoopers?

Your handset may be at risk from unsecured Wi-fi networks, apps that try to access your information or read your emails. These seven phones promise to ensure your privacy through data encryption, facial recognition and firewalls

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 8:18am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 8:18am

How important is mobile security and privacy to you? The world is increasingly covered in free Wi-fi networks, but while they may be tempting, most are unsecured – meaning they’re potentially risky. Snoopers are out there, and they’re after corporate secrets as well as bank account details and personal information.

Beware the dangers of free Wi-fi access

Cue the secure smartphone. Although all Apple and Android phones have some privacy and security features, there are a number of phones on the market now that promise specialised extra layers protection and privacy.

BlackBerry KEYone

This work-focused, if retro-looking stainless steel and leather-clad smartphone (US$600) has a built-in QWERTY keyboard – but what should really attract business travellers is its DTEK security app. It monitors the phone’s security status in real time and presents a rating, allowing the user to control what data is shared and the apps it’s shared with. Most usefully, it lets you know if any app is trying to access your contacts or location, or accessing your microphone or camera. Available at shop.hkcsl.com

iPhone X

Premiering on Apple’s flagship device (US$1,100) is Face ID, which scans the user’s face rather than asking for a passcode.

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This facial recognition system compares the user’s real-time face with a previously taken selfie that sits on the phone, not a remote server. Available at apple.com

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung’s flagship phone (US$730) has Samsung Knox inside. This defence-grade security app is built into the hardware and software, and keeps professional data encrypted and separate from the rest of the phone. IT administrators can manage fleets of Knox devices remotely. Available at smartone.com

Silent Circle Blackphone 2

The first smartphone built to be private by design, this Android device (US$650) is built on the Silent OS and uses a proprietary GoSilent firewall. Its Security Centre gives control over app permissions and data shared, while Spaces keeps work, personal apps and data completely separate, essentially creating numerous ‘virtual’ phones. Available at silentcircle.com

Sikur GranitePhone

Impenetrable mobile security is claimed by the GranitePhone (US$799), which uses 4,096-bit encryption to lock away data. Crucially, the encryption keys are stored locally on the device rather than on a server, so no third party or government can intercept and decode your messages.

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The downside? Apps cannot be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Available at sikur.com

BlackBerry DTEK50

Taking its name from BlackBerry’s pre-installed DTEK security app, this good value device (US$345) is focused on offering full data encryption to business users. As with the KeyONE, managing app permissions is really easy, with DTEK giving a real-time rating on your phone’s current privacy status, and offering simple steps to improve it. Available from wilsoncomm.com.hk

Solarin

Aimed at the super-wealthy, this 5.5-inch Android smartphone (US$13,500) from Sirin Labs is all about safety from snoopers. Launched with the help of Leonardo DiCaprio, the Solarin features a Security Shield mode that creates an isolated zone for encrypted calls and messages, plus access to ProtonMail encrypted email. It comes with an international charger and high-end Beryllium earphones. Available at solarin.com