Boeing Self-destructing Black Phone Looks Functional But Lacks Luster

Scrape off all of the hoopla and the Boeing Black secure smartphone comes across as a rather underwhelming piece of communications hardware. It seems to beg the question: is this the best that the great minds at the defense behemoth could manage?

Aside from the much-touted self-destruct mechanism, and some fancy module options, this phone could be a lot better. How to fix it? Where to start?

Let’s start with the appearance. I know that Boeing was probably going with the “hide in plain sight” aesthetic – people are less likely to try to mess with a fancy government phone if it looks unexciting. This, however, is from Boeing – I am sure that I am not the only person that thinks that it should look like it can take a tamperer’s hand off quicker than they can blurt, “depleted uranium.” The Black phone ought to look like it can survive a nuclear blast, or at the very least a drop or two.

The next bone of contention is the battery. Why, oh why, did Boeing opt for a 1590 mAh battery? While they might be forgiven for taking the “less is more” approach with the phone’s styling, more is more when it comes to battery. Granted, 1590 mAh is adequate, but nothing more – it seems like the battery was an afterthought. If I was in line for a Boeing Black, I would be feeling a little bit let down. They should have added a little bulk to it and given it some staying power.

The phone does have a few cool features: dual cellular network support (for government and civilian networks), onboard hardware-based storage encryption, and a satellite communications “trusted module.” The phone will support other modules as well, presumably, thanks to Boeing incorporating a “modular expansion port”

While the anti-tamper features are very cool, the coolest feature (the data-wipe) would seem to be battery-dependent:

The Boeing Black phone is manufactured as a sealed device both with epoxy around the casing and with screws, the heads of which are covered with tamper proof covering to identify attempted disassembly. Any attempt to break open the casing of the device would trigger functions that would delete the data and software contained within the device and make the device inoperable.

To cut a long story short, the Boeing Black is an interesting phone, but we cannot help but wish that they had set the bar a little higher.

[Boeing (PDF) via Ars Technica]


About the author: C. S. Magor


C.S. Magor is the editor-in-chief and reporter at large for Uberreview and We Interrupt. He currently resides in a sleepy basin town in the Japanese countryside - where both his bank balance and the lack of space in his home are testament to his addiction to all things shiny.

Follow @csmagor on Twitter



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