Samsung Galaxy S20 Tactical Edition
If you have an interest in secure or ruggedised smartphones you may want to check out Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Tactical Edition (TE). Recognising the unique requirements of the battlefield Samsung has taken its conventional S20 handset and upgraded it into a Swiss army knife of features designed to aid the modern soldier.
The baseline device specs are the same as the normal S20: a Snapdragon 865 processor, a triple rear camera fit and a 6.2″ AMOLED screen, with the slight difference that the display comes with night vision and stealth modes for use in operational conditions.
For security aficionados there are also some notable differences in terms encryption and other tactical features.
The Galaxy S20 TE employs a Samsung Knox DualDAR architecture that protects important data behind two layers of encryption. The outer layer is based on Android File Based Encryption, but enhanced by Samsung to meet the US Government approved Mobile Device Fundamentals Protection Profile (MDFPP) requirements. This layer uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256 XTS, which some researchers have estimated could take billions of years for a supercomputer to successfully complete a “brute force” attack (i.e. attempt every possible key combination).
The inner layer of encryption allows a custom cryptographic module to be installed, or otherwise defaults to a FIPS 140-2 standard provided by Samsung.
To access the container encrypted (CE) storage area of the Galaxy S20 TE the device user has to authenticate to both layers of encryption.
Noting the requirement for military operators to maintain a common operational picture, Samsung have pre-loaded the handset with drivers required to make it interoperable with various communications channels. Examples include tactical radio, drone feeds, laser range finders and external GPS.
Needless to say the device is also compatible with the latest wireless and mobile network standards emerging of late, including 5G and Wi-Fi 6.
Few things will be more irritating in a stressful operational environment than rapidly draining or dead batteries and the S20 TE comes with ‘intelligent battery’ features. In practical terms this seems to mean the handset optimises power use by different apps and it also incorporates wireless power share.
Unfortunately, for now at least the S20 TE is only available for sale to military and government organizations. However, those who like the style and ruggedised protection might wish to combine a Juggernaut case and a conventional Samsung Galaxy S20 – which still packs respectable security features including Knox.