Anatoly Yakovenko, the co-founder of Solana Labs, considers the Saga a potential “moonshot” for the Solana ecosystem. With a range of high-end specs that rival the Apple iPhone and flagship Android Phones, the Solana Saga shows all the signs of being an excellent mobile device even before factoring in its unique Web3 experience.
But hang on. Hold the phone…
I already have the Phantom Wallet app installed on my regular phone. I can already trade cryptocurrency and buy NFTs on the Solana network from the old Android in my pocket. Moreover, my self-custody hardware wallet already protects my seed-phrase and digital assets from prying eyes.
Do I even need a blockchain phone? How is the Solana Saga different from a regular mobile phone?
What Is the Solana Saga Phone?
Solana Mobile and OSOM designed the Saga as Solana’s daring foray into the smartphone industry. Crypto news outlets first announced the Solana Saga in June 2022 and promised to reinvent the Web3 experience on mobile by making it easy and safe to manage and transact digital assets.
Interestingly enough, The Solana Saga uses the basic framework of the Android operating system. Given Web 3’s notorious UX issues, this is a great idea and helps new users assimilate much faster to the Saga and its additional functionalities.
Before accounting for its unique Web3 features, the Solana Saga has all the hallmarks of a flagship mobile device. For you smartphone aficionados out there, here are the basic specs:
- Premium Hardware & Design
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Processor
- 512 GB Storage
- 12 GB Ram
- 6.67” OLED Display
- 50 MegaPixel Camera
Solana Saga vs. Regular Mobile Phone: Key Differences
These facts and figures are all well and good, but they aren’t what the crypto community is interested in. The Solana Saga Mobile Phone is designed to be more than a great mobile phone; it’s specifically engineered to improve the Web 3 mobile experience.
With this in mind, we need to dig deeper. What is it about the Solana Saga that separates it from regular phones with Web3 apps? How does its architecture protect your funds and streamline your activity on the Solana blockchain?
Solana Phone Seed Vault
The Solana phone’s primary security feature, the Seed Vault is arguably the Saga’s unique selling point. The Seed Vault stores your seed phrase and private keys on a dedicated hardware security module called a secure element.
The Seed Vault protects your seeds from malicious actors and denies access to wallets and dApps. Instead, you can approve blockchain transactions with a fingerprint.
It’s important to note that the Seed Vault existed as an independent security layer that does not interact with other device layers, like the Android layer. For example, if any Android apps or files were compromised, the Seed Vault would remain untouched and impenetrable.
An easier way to think of it is to imagine a hardware wallet wired into the very frame of your mobile phone.
Solana Mobile Stack (SMS)
The Solana Mobile Stack is a software development kit (SDK) dedicated to blockchain developers. It provides developers and engineers with everything they need to build mobile-first dApps on the Solana network.
This includes open-source software like the Solana Mobile Wallet Adaptor, which allows Solana-based applications to connect with any Solana wallet, like Phantom, Solflare, or Backpack.
To coincide with the release of the Solana phone, the Solana Foundation also announced a $10M grant. This fund incentivizes developers to build mobile-first applications on the Solana Network to grow the Solana dApp store and spearhead adoption.
Solana dApp Store
Like Google Play and the Apple App Store, Solana Labs envisions its own mobile app empire. A central hub for blockchain-based applications that can be accessed securely on the go, the Solana dApp store supports seamless interaction with key DeFi apps and NFT protocols within the Solana ecosystem, like the Jupiter DEX Aggregator and Magic Eden.
Developers hope that more transparent and decentralized platforms, like the Solana dApp store, will liberate them from the exorbitant fees charged by Apple and Google. Apple’s controversial 30% fee has often been criticized by business owners and consumers alike.
Admittedly, the dApp Store’s offerings are slim. There are only a handful of apps available, and those that exist suffer from slight bugs. However, it’s still early days in the Solana ecosystem, and the development fund should provide plenty of incentives for developers to contribute constructively to the space.
The Saga Welcome Pack: Crypto Gifts and Exclusive NFTs
Solana Saga pre-order participants and early buyers have been rewarded with the exclusive Saga Genesis Token. This device-bound and non-transferable NFT unlocks exclusive content, offers, and rewards within the Solana ecosystem.
Previous gifts have included cryptocurrency rewards like SOL and USD Coin (USDC), while future benefits include exclusive NFT mints. For example, Saga Genesis Token holders can mint unique NFTs from the new Claynosaurs collection.
While not exclusive to Saga Genesis Token holders, new Solana Phone buyers can get their verified Mad Lads NFT engraved on the back of the device. It’s far from a groundbreaking innovation, but the Mad Labs collection rallied over 40 SOL in value on the back of this feature. This hints that other top Solana NFTs might partner with Solana Mobile.
The Solana Phone: Pros & Cons
While the Solana Saga has plenty of unique selling points, saying it’s a total game-changer is a bit of a stretch. Let’s review the pros and cons of the Solana Phone.
- Secure Hardware – The Solana phone’s main benefit is that it offers users greater security when using mobile apps on the Solana blockchain. Hacks and scams are commonplace in the crypto industry, and an additional layer of protection is always welcome.
- Solana Ecosystem Exclusives – Rewards and exclusive NFT mints provide a wealth of value to the Solana Saga and help round out the Solana ecosystem into a multi-faceted entity.
- Streamlines adoption – It’s no secret that most people primarily experience the internet through mobile devices. Despite this, most Web3 applications are designed by desktop PCs. Developing a mobile-first Web3 platform makes blockchain technology far more accessible and helps onboard more users faster.
- Great standalone product – Even if you remove all the added Web3 functionality, the Solana Saga is a great phone. It’s performant, sleek, and well-designed, making it a quality device for everyday use.
- Underwhelming Solana dApp store – Perhaps it’s unfair to say this early, but the Solana dApp store is undeniably bare. There’s a certain emptiness to the dApp store that implies the Solana ecosystem is struggling to grow.
- Expensive – At $1,000, the Solana phone won’t make sense for everyone. This price point puts the Saga at the same market value as flagship iPhones and Samsungs but doesn’t offer the same utility or brand confidence.
- Obsolete? – Considering that hardware wallets exist and all Solana-based dApps can be run through a compatible wallet app like Phantom, do we even need a crypto phone?
Early Feedback from Users
The jury is still out whether the Solana phone is a next-generation breakthrough or an old dog with a new collar. Early user reviews have been mixed, with some crypto enthusiasts championing the Saga and others claiming it simply isn’t necessary.
Universally, reviewers have been pleased with the Solana phone’s performance and design. Reports consistently claim that the Saga looks and feels great and would make an excellent mobile phone for everyday use.
Apart from a relatively vacant dApp store, the user experience is reportedly smooth. Signing transactions with a thumbprint is a significant step that makes Web3 transactions far more familiar and will surely be a hit with Web2 users.
Detractors have criticized the Solana phone’s lack of support for other blockchain networks, like Ethereum (ETH). To be honest, this seems like pointless criticism, given that Solana is arguably Ethereum’s top competitor.
A more valid point concerns competition from top smartphone manufacturers. If crypto and blockchain adoption continues at its current rate, how long will it be before Samsung and Apple install their own versions of a Seed Vault into their devices?
On the Flipside
- I’ve made the point a few times that everything the Solana phone provides already exists in some form. However, the true benefit of the Saga is that it consolidates these different tools and features into one device. This is a great step for simplicity and adoption.
- You might not remember, but the iPhone and the iPod co-existed for several years before the iPhone completely absorbed the iPod’s role. Perhaps the same will be said for mobile phones and hardware wallets in a few years.
Why This Matters
Web 3 has significant UX issues that stifle adoption and discourage newcomers from using this technology. The Solana phone attempts to solve this pain point and give the crypto space a frictionless, mobile-first experience.
The Solana phone costs $1,000 and is available to order on the Solana Mobile site.
Solana Labs make the Solana phone in collaboration with OSOM.
Solana is one of the leading Layer-1 blockchain networks in the blockchain industry. Its main competitors are other Layer 1s like Ethereum, Cardano (ADA), and Aptos (APT).
Yes, several mobile wallets, like Phantom, are available that support the Solana blockchain.