Solana's Saga Mobile Phone: A Vibrant Crypto Ecosystem
By Will McKinnon September 5, 2023
- Solana Mobile introduced the Solana Mobile Stack (SMS) in June 2022, along with a compatible mobile phone aimed at expanding the Solana Network's reach
- The Saga smartphone, initially priced at $1000, now available for $600, features 512GB storage, a 6.67-inch OLED display, and the latest Android OS
- Designed by OSOM, it is Web3 compatible with a dapp store, setting it apart from regular smartphones
- The Saga phone's launch included pre-orders and subsequent orders, with around 2,100 Saga Genesis NFTs minted by July
In June of 2022, Solana Mobile unveiled not only their mobile platform Solana Mobile Stack (SMS), but also a mobile phone built on SMS that would be natively compatible with the Solana Network.
With an already thriving ecosystem full of decentralized finance (DeFi) applications, gaming projects and a vibrant community Solana now ventures into the mobile phone space as a way to expand the network to a wider audience of consumers and attempt to onboard non-crypto native users.
The Saga Basics
The Saga smartphone originally launched at a price point of $1,000. However, it is now on sale for $600 on the Solana Mobile site as of August 10th. Featuring 512gb of storage, a 6.67inch OLED display and the latest Android operating system the Saga is on par with the most popular mobile phones on the market. It's made by the reputable Cupertino, CA phone designer OSOM. What sets it apart from the rest, however, is Solana Mobile Stack, which makes the device Web3 compatible and enables myriad custom features for crypto users including the dapp store.
The Saga was officially rolled out to pre-order customers earlier this year. According to data from Flipside Crypto, about 2,100 Saga Genesis NFTs had been minted as of the end of July, suggesting that the same number of Saga phones have been activated.
It's important to keep in mind these numbers are based on the period where the phone price point was still $1,000, which is about twice the price of an equivalent non-web3 Android device. Now that the cost has been reduced there should be more demand for the Saga.
This should be true for several reasons. One, Google's Play Store has some strict policies on blockchain gaming and NFTs - which is a sweet spot Saga can fill. In addition, the phone can use the decentralized wireless network Helium, which allows users access to cheap connectivity and even the chance to earn tokens.
One of the main features of the Solana Mobile Stack is the Seed Vault which was designed to solve the issue of keeping wallet seed phrases safe and secure from prying eyes. While there are existing mobile wallet applications, which can store a seed phrase in a secure manner once set up, there is always a risk with app-level security that the seed phrase can be leaked outside the secure domain of the wallet during creation or importation. Hardware wallets like Ledger function by generating the seed phrase offline, and preventing it from ever being connected to the internet and in doing so, keep it secure.
Saga's Seed Vault functions similarly by accessing what is known as the "Trusted Execution Environment" which cannot be accessed by normal phone operations or even screen-captured. When a transaction needs to be signed for an app on the phone, the transaction is sent to the Seed Vault where it can then be executed from within its secure walls.
To avoid the many restrictions and friction points imposed by other mobile phone app stores, Solana Mobile felt it necessary to create a crypto-specific version to launch alongside the Saga - especially in light of gatekeepers like Google and their anti-crypto stance. Any Solana-compatible crypto application can apply to be listed on the dapp store with many of the most popular existing Solana applications having launched a mobile version through the service.
Source: Solana Mobile
Interestingly, Solana Mobile has stated they have no intention of imposing the same exorbitant fees that, for example, Apple has on its iOS store. The only fees that may occur would relate to network fees for specific applications. More info about the dapp store is available in this thread from Solana mobile .
If having the full capability of every Solana-based product right in a pocket wasn't enough, Solana Mobile is also packing a rewards system into the Saga. After activating a new Saga device, it's possible to mint a unique Saga Genesis NFT which is soulbound (non-transferable) to your device.
Source: Merit Circle Genopets Guide
This NFT enables users to receive Saga-specific rewards from various dapps and protocols on Solana, as well as in the dapp store. For example, Saga Genesis NFT holders are eligible to receive a free month of access to Helium. Solana-based memecoin Bonk has partnered with Solana Mobile to give free Bonk to Genesis NFT holders, and upcoming blockchain game Genopets is offering early access to Saga users.
As the ecosystem continues to grow there will continue to be more rewards for users, so be sure to mint those Genesis NFTs if opting to buy a Saga phone! The future of crypto must include mobile, so kudos to the Solana ecosystem for putting in the effort.