Security and privacy are issues that have been brought more sharply into focus than ever of late, following multiple high-profile data breaches and ongoing revelations about NSA spying activities. SGP Technologies, a joint venture between Silent Circle and Geeksphone, wants to tackle these issues with the launch of a new smartphone. The Blackphone is aimed at providing users with control over their security and privacy.

The device was originally announced in January and has now been officially launched at this year's Mobile World Congress. It is expected to feature a 2 GHz or higher quad-core processor, a 4.7-in HD IPS screen, LTE, HSPA+. The phone will also sport 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, 16 GB of storage, a primary camera of 8 MP or more with flash, a 1.3 MP front-facing camera, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n Wi-Fi and GPS.

It will be offered unlocked for use on any network or through "selected partner carriers" and will run its own PrivatOS operating system that is built on Android. According to Blackphone, frequent Secure Over-The-Air (SOTA) updates will be provided directly from SGP Technologies.

A number of privacy tools will come pre-installed, including Silent Phone for secure voice and video calling, Silent Text for secure text messaging and Silent Contacts for encrypted storage of user contacts. Other tools include anonymous search, private browsing, secure VPN connectivity and secure cloud storage.

The Blackphone is available for pre-order now for US$629 and is expected to begin shipping in June.

Watch the video below for an introduction to the Blackphone.

Source: Blackphone