“it’s time for crypto to go mobile” announced Anatoly Yakovenko, a cofounder of the blockchain Solana. This statement was brought along by the news that Yakovenko and his team were developing the “Saga,” a Web3 smartphone slated to come out in 2023. As of yesterday, the phone finally became available for the wider public.
While it isn’t the first crypto smartphone to hit the market, Saga’s technical specifications rival that of other phones in the same price tier. Built by OSOM, a smartphone startup, it comes with 512 gigabytes of memory, 12 gigabytes of RAM, and a Snapdragon 8+ Gen1 processor. Compared with a basic 2019 Android smartphone used by Fortune reporter Ben Weiss, it was light years ahead with quick responses, great photo quality and a long battery life over 24 hours.
Having said that, Google’s flagship model, Pixel Pro, retails at $1,099 for 512 gigabytes of memory – boasting the same amount of RAM as the Saga, but the screen has a higher resolution, and its camera has an additional ultra-wide and telephoto lens compared with Saga’s dual-lense ultra-wide lens.
However, that isn’t the selling point of the Saga. Its selling point is that it is a Web3 smartphone. But what does that mean exactly?
Baked into each and every device is the Seed Vault, what Yakovenko calls a secure way to store seed phrases, or master passwords, to crypto wallets. The seed phrase lives outside the phone’s Android operating system, according to Solana Mobile, a subsidiary of Solana Labs. Any application that prompts a user to authorise a transaction needs to go through gated software.
This boils down to a complicated setup process that includes fingerprint scanning, a pin code, and a prompt to manually write down the 24-word seed phrase on a piece of paper included within the phone’s packaging. For newcomers to Web3, it’s confusing, but for those with tens of thousands of dollars in crypto, the security is probably worth it.
The other major selling point of the Saga is its decentralised application marketplace, or dApp store, which Yakovenko has positioned as an eventual competitor to Apple’s or Google’s. As opposed to the tech behemoths, Solana Mobile says that it doesn’t take a cut of developers’ sales.
According to Fortune magazine’s test, the Saga is one of the more seamless Web3 experiences out there. Users are able to mint an NFT of a selfie, play a racing game, and send NFT stickers to the founder of Dialect, a Web3 messaging app.
The downside is that it isn’t exactly bug free. “This particular bug is a known edge case impacting a very small number of Saga users with certain WiFi router models,” said a spokesperson for Solana Mobile. “While we have identified temporary remediation steps, we have been working on a permanent fix.”
The survey concluded that, for those who live and breathe crypto, the phone allows them to further integrate Web3 into their every day. But for crypto newcomers, the complicated setup process and bugs make the phone’s Web3 features intimidating.
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