Venture-backed Sirin Labs to sell phone for the privacy conscious

$72M in funding accumulated for mystery smartphone

Mobile phone data privacy.

An international group of investors announced today that Sirin Labs, a startup with $72 million in venture funding, is planning to create a smartphone that combines premium performance and functionality with strong privacy protection.

Sirin’s announcement gave few details about the device, internally dubbed the SP1, but the company says that interested parties won’t have long to wait for additional information, as it should go on sale within the next two months. The SP1’s design, according to Sirin, will attempt to graft high-end flagship features onto a far greater emphasis on security than most modern smartphones.

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The group is led by the founders of Israeli VC firm Singulariteam, Moshe Hogeg and Kenges Rakishev, along with former Googler and startup veteran Tal Cohen, who serves as CEO. Sirin has also employed a former product director for Sony Mobile, Fredrik Oijer.

The idea came about when Rakishev’s phone was hacked in 2013, according to Sirin. Business travelers ought to be able to have robust mobile capabilities without risking a privacy or security compromise.

The concept isn’t a new one – Silent Circle launched the Blackphone in 2014, with similar privacy goals in mind. The Blackphone runs a modified version of Android, packs flagship-level internals, and sports a businesslike black finish. It retails for a hefty $800 in the U.S., about $100 higher than the latest from Samsung but comparable to the iPhone 6s, for non-contract prices.

Sirin’s announcement emphasizes that its device isn’t a mass-market phone, and discussed the use of expensive, cutting-edge technology, which seems to suggest that the price point could also be relatively high. Where Blackphone uses a specialized software stack to create security improvements, the precise nature of Sirin’s security technology remains to be seen.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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