A new phone set to be released by Chinese manufacturer, Gionee, could be one of the safest smartphones ever, the company claims. If implemented correctly, it could bring a new level of security to consumer smartphones.

Most modern approaches to smartphone security are done through software. Those that are hardware-related, like Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner, still don’t protect the data once you get past the lock screen.

The Gionee M6, which is set to launch July 26th, uses an encrypted chip to better secure a user’s personal data on the device. The M6 began as a rumor on Chinese social network Weibo, when renderings of the device were leaked to the site. However, Gionee’s vice president Yu Lei confirmed the rumors shortly after.

The company hasn’t released the full details of the phone this far ahead of its launch, but the general idea behind hardware encryption like this is that it is self-contained and could potentially shrink the attack surface for a device.

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“As far as we know, the hardware encryption operation is completed in the security encryption chip, so it is equivalent to a black box, and the process won’t be hijacked. Whereas software encryption takes place at the operating system, so it has more risks to be peaked or hijacked,” according to a press release announcing the device.

In the wake of Apple’s very public battle with the FBI over encryption, conversations around mobile security are at an all-time high. Apple has its own hardware security measure called the Secure Enclave, which is a separate CPU within the A7 chips that runs some cryptographic operations and handles the biometric data for iPhones.

Despite existing security features, both Apple and Google have recently taken more steps to secure the mobile devices running their operating systems. Android’s integration of Samsung Knox, new update system, and use of ARM’s TrustZone have all increased the security capabilities of Android phones.

Additionally, a host of ultra-secure Android devices have hit the market recently, including the Boeing Black, the Turing Phone, the Solarin smartphone, and Silent Circle’s Blackphone. Despite this, fewer than 10% of Android phones are properly encrypted. And, recent revelations have been made about malware strains infecting millions of Android devices.

Gionee’s claims that the M6 could be the “safest smartphone ever” are pretty bold. However, if they are able to accomplish what they set out to do, it could set the stage for better Android security in the future.

What do you think?

Will the Gionee M6 be the safest smartphone ever, or is it all marketing hype? Tell us your opinion in the comments.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. The Gionee M6 is launching July 26th, and will feature an encrypted chip that the company says will make it the “safest smartphone ever.”
  2. Hardware encryption is typically considered stronger than software-only encryption and Apple has addressed hardware with its secure enclave, but many Android phones are lacking in hardware-based security.
  3. The Gionee M6 could end up helping Android phones be more secure in the future, but it could also simply be marketing hype.