Despite some interesting tablet hardware in the earlier days of Android, French manufacturer Archos hasn't had anything notable to show for several years. Perhaps that's why the company is jumping into the small but growing niche of ultra-secure cell phones, like the Blackphone and the Turing Phone. Archos has partnered with SIKUR (read: Secure), a vendor of encrypted company-focused communications apps, to create the GranitePhone. It's available to purchase today for a whopping $850.

Thanks to the GranitePhone's Android-derived "Granite OS," basically everything on the device is encrypted, even the custom homescreen that eschews a conventional grid layout for a modified version of the SIKUR inbox. But for all the security selling points, the promotional material for the phone has a surprising lack of detail. The official website mentions "various authentication layers," "no backdoors," and "developed for unique people" (what?), and says that the phone's storage is securely backed up in the cloud and can be accessed from other SIKUR apps.

If the marketing doesn't sell you, then the specifications certainly won't. The GranitePhone uses a Snapdragon 615 processor with 2GB of RAM, a 5-inch, 1080p screen, just 16GB of storage, 16MP rear and 8MP front cameras, and a somewhat anemic 2700mAh battery. That's some decidedly mid-range hardware - a similarly-equipped Android phone usually costs less than half of that. The styling is typical of Archos, which is to say grey plastic and lots of it. There's no mention of which open-source version of Android was used to create the operating system (or of support for Google apps). If you think that's worth $850, then 1) why? and 2) you can pay for it directly on the GranitePhone site.

Press Release

Paris, FRANCE- October 9th 2015 – ARCHOS today announces the availability of the GranitePhone by SIKUR, allowing both companies to enter the global market of private communications smartphones, where the need for voice and data protection is a growing concern. The GranitePhone, unveiled at MWC, has immediately attracted the attention of government, defense agencies as well as private companies and individual users concerned by their privacy, generating huge quantities of pre-sales on the Granitephone website. With a 5inch screen Full HD, Granite OS, 4G and a 16MP camera the phone has all the latest hardware specs along with an unrivalled focus on security, eliminating loopholes which could allow data theft and spying. The security architecture has been carefully designed with multiple layers of protection to mitigate security issues whilst still delivering the best in mobile technology today. For additional flexibility, the device’s data storage is also kept in an encrypted form in the cloud so that GranitePhone’s users can access safely to their data from anywhere, using SIKUR applications. They can do so from a computer and from other mobile devices, either Android and even iOS, which ensures great flexibility without compromising privacy. “ARCHOS, through its subsidiary Logic Instrument is pleased to have been selected as industrial and development partner for this project as the demand for secured mobile solutions is increasing” says Loïc POIRIER CEO of ARCHOS. "With GranitePhone, you can create a corporate digital environment, secure for the exchange of strategic information, without compromising productivity and speed offered by mobile devices," says Frederico D'Avila, CEO of Sikur. The GranitePhone, the first smartphone entirely focused on user privacy can be ordered through the website www.granitephone.com