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Tuesday, July 19

Hands-On With Gionee M6, 'The World's Safest Smartphone' That Provides Extra Mobile Security

With Apple’s recent public battle against the US government over iPhone encryption, and all these news of celebrity nude photo hacks, conversations about mobile security are at an all time high. And rightfully so, since cyber crime is the fastest growing threat in the world. While smartphone manufacturers have put in serious efforts on that front, almost all encryption on our mobile devices are done on the software side — software that, if a company really chooses to, can break through via “back doors.”

Chinese smartphone maker Gionee hopes to address these concerns with what they say is the world’s first phone with a dedicated encryption chip inside. The concept, they say, is this: encryption on a hardware level is much stronger and harder to break than on a software level, because the latter operates within a device’s operating system and can be infiltrated, while hardware encryption is self-contained (Info Security magazine backs this claim).

The Gionee M6, which the Shenzhen-based company has dubbed “the world’s safest phone,” will be unveiled to the world on July 26. The company was kind enough to let me take the very first look.
First impressions: The M6 is a sturdily-built, heavy phone. But the weight is worth it, because the M6 packs a whopping 5,020 mAH battery (most phones carry a battery between 2,800 and 3,200 mAH), which should result in some serious battery life.

A spokesperson for Gionee told me they designed the phone to cater to high-level businessmen: someone who needs a phone that can last days while on business trips, and, of course, the need to ensure whatever files on their device is safe from prying eyes.
The phone has a dedicated app for that, named “Secret Space.” In it are options to store photos, text messages, contact lists, files/documents, and e-payment info such as Alipay. Once you put something in here, the information disappears from the rest of your phone. Gionee claims there’s no way to access this info unless the person can get into the app — locked via fingerprint sensor or passcode.

A Gionee spokesperson told me the chip is 128-bit encrypted, which is the same level of security that commercial banks use. She added that the chip carries a self-operating system that generates random cryptographic keys via a TRNG (true random number generator). 

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