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Blackphone OS update bricks non-genuine handsets

Silent Circle is rolling out an update for its privacy-focused smartphones that counters a growing trend of ‘grey market’ Blackphone 2 devices being sold online by rendering them unusable if updated to the latest version of the OS.

According to ArsTechnica, up until version 3.0.7 of Silent OS there were no problems but that one user found that the next update to 3.0.8 “seems to intentionally brick the baseband on some devices.” The owner of the handset that got in touch obviously contacted Blackphone upon realising the problem, but was told that there was nothing they could do to help as the phone wasn’t a genuine Blackphone 2 device.

“This device was not sold by Silent Circle or an approved vendor of Silent Circle and, therefore, we are unable to provide any further assistance,” part of Silent Circle’s response read. In a statement provided, Silent Circle said it was aware that unauthorised handsets were being made and marketed as the security-focused Blackphone 2, while they were actually no such thing.

In an effort to put an end to the problem, the company’s rolling out an update that stops them from working. That’s not very good news for people that’ve already purchased one of the devices, but then nor is using a phone that you think is extra-secure, but is in fact a replica.

Silent Circle had previously tried to head the problem off by educating potential purchasers to stay away from non-official retail channels, such as eBay, as handsets purchased this way were not able to “access to Silent Circle’s rich software portfolio, new andenhanced applications, or customer service and support.” It seems now that has been taken one step further, and updating handsets purchased from these “grey market resellers” will render them useless.

Related: Blackphone 2 review

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Do you think that Silent Circle is right to roll out an update that stops these handsets from working? Let us know in the comments below!

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