Solana Labs, the firm behind the Solana (SOL) blockchain, says it will launch an Android mobile phone for the Solana network – and aims to ship the device to customers as early as next year.
The device will be called Saga and should feature crypto wallet functions, as well as a mobile software development kit for Web3 apps named Solana Mobile Stack.
The handset should also come with direct access to a Web3 store for dapps (decentralized, blockchain-powered apps) and an integrated Solana Pay function, which would allow users to make payments on the network using QR codes. The Solana Foundation is also creating a USD 10m fund “to encourage growth of mobile dapps.”
Other crypto-themed features include a mobile wallet adapter and a seed vault – a repository for private keys.
The device will also come with Saga Pass, which Solana Labs called a non-fungible token (NFT) that will accompany “the first wave of Saga devices.” This NFT, the firm added, will represent the “first ticket to participating in community governance of the Solana Mobile Stack platform.”
In a post, the Solana Labs CEO Anatoly Yakovenko, claimed that the “time has come” for “crypto to go mobile.”
He bemoaned the fact that crypto users are still forced to use desktop devices and almost-obsolete hardware to carry out their dealings – suggesting that the new phone would solve these problems. Yakovenko wrote:
“After all this time, the preferred method of interacting with crypto still involves installing a browser extension and plugging in a thumb drive.”
Solana Labs added that it was partnering with a number of crypto players to facilitate the phone’s release, including the crypto exchange giant FTX, as well as the NFT marketplace Magic Eden, the “move-to-earn” step-counting crypto app operator StepN, the wallet operator Phantom, and the DeFi player Orca.
The Verge reported that the phone was being developed by Osom, the smartphone maker behind the Essential Phone. Osom confirmed that the Saga was in fact a modified version of the OV1 smartphone, which the firm first began speaking about in 2020.
But the report suggested that the rollout could be best with problems, writing:
“The real test will be whether the Saga actually ships on target in early 2023, as both Solana and Osom claim it will. And if there will be a viable audience for a product like this outside of the auditorium of excited Web3 enthusiasts who cheered its introduction.”
The report pointed out that “even experienced phone makers like HTC have gone down [the crypto and blockchain] path and failed to make any real impact.”
Android Police, meanwhile, was even more scathing, claiming that Osom’s “hotly-anticipated smartphone” had “succumbed to crypto gimmicks.”
Jason Keats, Osom’s Founder and CEO, was quoted as stating:
“The world needs novel hardware companies to support the future that is Web3. Building out an ecosystem that looks to the future without being burdened by past legacy ecosystems is hugely exciting.”
Solana noted that pre-orders are already being offered – but require “refundable” USD 100 deposits made in USDC via the Solana network.
At 07:35 UTC, SOL trades at around USD 38 and is up 6% in a day and 27% in a week. SOL is still down 23% in a month.
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