Punkt MP02 Prototype Review: Secure Communication without Connection

Last updated:
Communication without Connection
Great Enterprise Device
The Punkt MP 02 focuses on secure communication, rather than connection, allowing you to stay efficient and your communication to be secure. At £295 the Punkt MP 02 is a superb device for the enterprise and c-suite types but perhaps a little pricey for consumers.
Design
9.4
Software
2
Ease of Use
8
Value for Money
8.3
Support
1
Reader Rating1 Vote
9.5
Pros
Great Design
Small and Compact
Great phone for Enterprise
Secure communications with no distractions
Cons
Limited Contacts Syncing
Too pricey for consumers
Poor Support
5.7
Conclusion

Back in September of last year, Punkt released the second version of its mobile phone, the MP02 4G. Designed by Jasper Morrison, the new MP02 benefits from 4G LTE, making it available for use worldwide and has the ability to tether to a laptop or tablet.

Like its predecessor the MP 01, the MP 02 is a simple mobile phone for calling and texting, but this time with 4G LTE and tethering for Internet access.

Punkt are keen to highlight that this is not a “detox” phone.

The MP 02 is not a “detox phone”.  It’s a new kind of everyday phone, for people who have realised that smartphones can get in the way of life, and actually create invisible barriers between people. So, no distractions, no notifications.  No apps that have been designed by behavioural scientists to keep you addicted.

The beauty of the MP 02 is that when you want to access the Internet, you can.  Whether in combination with a tablet or a laptop, users can fine-tune their digital toolkit to suit their needs.

The MP02 features a black and white sunlight readable display and support for 4G LTE networks. You can use it to make Voice over LTE phone calls, and the phone can also serve as a mobile hotspot that connects to your other gadgets by WiFi, Bluetooth, or USB.

The Punkt MP02 may work well on non-European networks, but we found that we just couldn’t get a 4G connection with any UK carrier. With all carriers aside from 3 UK, we managed a good 3G connection with great call clarity. With 3 UK, we weren’t even able to make or receive calls at all.

Punkt MP 02 measures 4.6″ x 2″ x 0.6″ and weighs just 3.5 ounces. The phone has a polycarbonate case with a textured coating, and anodised aluminium power button (and SIM card tray), backlit number, call, and arrow keys on the front, plus a few other special function keys.

There are no dedicated volume keys, and simple tasks like changing the volume during a call is a multi-click process. There’s also no persistent battery or signal indicator. You get a low-battery indicator when the power is under 20 percent and a no-signal indicator when you can’t make calls.

Above the keypad there’s a 2 inch, 320 x 240 pixel transflective, high contrast display with Gorilla Glass 3 and a fingerprint-resistant coating.

There’s a front speaker for handheld use and a 1.5 watt rear speaker for hands-free use. The phone also has a vibration motor, and front and rear microphones. The one on the back of the phone is used for noise cancellation.

The Punkt MP 02 has nice physical buttons you press multiple times to select a letter in old T9 fashion.

Many of our readers will be completely unfamiliar with T9 but if you owned a mobile phone before the smart phone era, T9 will bring back some memories.

T9 stands for “text on 9 keys,” and it was all the rage from the early 1990’s and into the 2000’s. T9 allowed users to type letters with a single keystroke, and it would predict the word the user was writing.

Though it became less common as full keyboards were introduced, it can still be a useful skill. I was surprised that it only took me a day or two to become quite familiar with how it worked and to be able to type fluently using it.

You can enter texts using triple-tap or predictive texts, and select emoji from a menu. You can receive texts and picture messages, but as the phone has no camera or web browser, you can’t send a picture.

There is also the option to program nine speed dials.

The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor, 2GB of LPDDR3 memory, and 16GB of eMMC 4.5 storage. It has a 12,80 mAh battery that the company says offers up to 4.2 hours of talk time or up to 12.5 days of standby time. And the phone charges via a USB 2.0 Type-C connector.

It supports 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 and Punkt offers a choice of a model with support for US and Canadian 4G networks or one with support for networks in Europe, Australia, and Japan.

Despite the simplified user interface, the MP02 is actually running an operating system based on Android 8.1.

Only software directly installed by Punkt can run on the phone, once it has been hardened by BlackBerry Secure. However, we did manage to get the device into standard Android Development Mode and tried putting a couple of small Android apps onto the device.  While that was possible, none of them would run.  Whether this would be the case once the MP 02 is hardened by BlackBerry Secure is a difficult question to answer, as this was one of the questions Punkt didn’t get back to us on.

Apps

Out of the box, the Punkt MP 02 supports phone calls, text messaging (with predictive text support), and a few other core applications including Clock, Calculator, Calendar, Notes, and Contacts apps.

The MP02 has a few limited, built-in applications. The address book’s only sync option is importing VCF files or SIM contacts, via USB or Bluetooth.

There is no App Store and any other apps would have to be sideloaded.  Updates are done over the air and we assume that the built in apps will be updated in the same fashion.

There are 10 built-in ringtones and you cannot assign ringtones to specific contacts or create groups.

Security

Punkt are the first non-BlackBerry-branded ODM to use the BlackBerry-hardened manufacturing process. BlackBerry Secure Integrated Manufacturing Service (BSIMS) involves injecting cryptographic keys at manufacturing, the process monitored remotely from BlackBerry HQ in Waterloo, Canada.

According to BlackBerry, a BlackBerry Secure license provides product manufacturers with a deeply embedded security solution that comprises BlackBerry’s proprietary software and applications. Products built with components from the BlackBerry Secure software platform will have best-in-class security that helps safeguard end-user privacy and protects enterprises from attackers looking to exploit device vulnerabilities.

However, it should be pointed out that this is not a BlackBerry-branded device.  That means there are no BlackBerry apps installed on the MP 02 either.

Aside from BlackBerry Secure hardening, the device is fully encrypted and can be locked with the use of a Pin.

Editors Note: This review has been carried out over four weeks with a pre-production unit that hasn’t been hardened by BlackBerry Secure technology.

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