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Do we really need Blockchain smartphones?

LI Solana Saga Source: Solana Mobile

People have stopped caring about smartphones, wrote my colleague Anton D. Nagy a few days ago. A part reason for this behavior, he says (and with which I totally agree), is that smartphones have become boring, and there is nothing exciting about the upcoming smartphones. There is very little innovation in the smartphone space right now, and even though there are some companies taking some steps to change the perception, the notion is largely the same.

To compete with big players like Apple and Samsung, new companies often have to take a different approach so as to position themselves distinctly and bring the feeling of innovation. Nothing, the company founded by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, will soon launch an Android smartphone with over 900 LEDs on the back — it acts as a notification light, charging indicator, and whatnot. Similarly, OSOM, a startup established by former Essential employees, announced earlier this year that it would release a privacy-focused smartphone called OV1 in Q4 2022.


At the time, OSOM revealed that its OV1 smartphone would offer a private experience. Though we never got to know what the company meant by private experience, it did reveal that the OV1 smartphone will be powered by a Snapdragon 8 chipset and come with a Privacy Cable that will come with a flip switch that will allow users to turn off ‘ data collection’. And, in a massive turn of events, it seems that the company has changed its plan.

The company is no longer marketing the OV1 as a privacy-focused smartphone. In fact, it seems that the company has scraped off the OV1 project altogether. Instead, OSOM has partnered with Solana, a public blockchain company, to launch a new smartphone called Solana Saga. Solana says that Saga is a Web3-focused smartphone. But what will Solana Saga exactly offer, and how is it different from other Android smartphones? Let’s break it down for you.

What is the Solana Saga smartphone and what will it offer?

Solana Saga smartphon Source: Solana

The company is marketing Saga as a smartphone that will offer unique functionality and features tightly integrated with the Solana blockchain. It is a Blockchain smartphone that will make it easy and secure to transact in web3 and manage digital assets. It will be powered by Android, but instead of featuring Google Mobile Services (GMS) — the tool Google provides developers to support apps across multiple different versions of Android — the Solana Saga will feature Solana Mobile Stack (SMS).

The Solana Mobile Stack will allow users to store their cryptocurrency wallet keys on the device securely on a “Secure Element”. It will also help developers with the tools required to build secure wallets and Web3 apps for Solana Saga. And oh, for those looking for specifications, as you would expect from a $1000 smartphone, the Solana Saga would offer high-end specs. Solana says that the Saga will feature a 6.67-inch display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, 12GB of RAM, and 128GB of fast internal storage.

With the Saga smartphone, it seems that Solana wants to take the lead in the upcoming space and let developers build the whole world of web3 apps and cryptocurrency wallets. It will provide developers with the tools and APIs required to build the whole ecosystem. But do we really need Blockchain smartphones right now?

Why Blockchain smartphones don’t make sense (right now)

Cryptocurrency Wallet Source: Unsplash

To answer it simply: no, not really. We can already use so-called decentralized apps on any Android smartphone. You just need to install the respective cryptocurrency wallet app on your smartphone and make payments via those apps. The rest of the decentralized apps are also available for everyone on the app stores. Yes, the Solana Saga will provide more privacy and security features, but the encryption systems on the existing cryptocurrency wallets are also hard to crack and nobody keeps their life’s savings on their smartphone anyway.

And then there’s the case of HTC EXODUS. The company launched its first blockchain smartphone back in 2018, but it failed to live up to its expectations. There was nothing really exceptional about the EXODUS, and it failed to appeal to the masses. There’s also the case that the current state of web3 is (sort of) unclear to the non-tech people. Most of the projects/apps are either currently in the stage of development or are half-baked and buggy platforms. Yes, Solana is providing a development tool to the developer, but currently, there is no surety that its app ecosystem will be as good as, say, Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

And finally, the price tag. Solana has set a price tag of $1000 on the Saga smartphone. The high cost of the smartphone could draw away half of the interested people. There are a lot of excellent Android smartphones available at half the price, and you can use the currently available cryptocurrency wallets on all of these devices, which defeats the whole purpose of owning a Blockchain smartphone. Sure, Blockchain smartphones might make sense in the future, but do they currently? What are your thoughts? Would you be interested in buying one? Let us know in the comments section below!

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