Solana’s Crypto-Ready ‘Saga’ Smartphone Goes on Sale May 8

The Saga aims to put crypto in people’s pockets, where the rest of the digital world has already gone.

AccessTimeIconApr 13, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:12 a.m. UTC

Solana Labs’ crypto-forward smartphone Saga will go on public sale May 8, the company behind the Solana blockchain said Thursday. Pre-ordered devices are shipping now.

The Android smartphone is a gamble on mobile being imperative to the future of crypto, employees at Solana-focused companies told CoinDesk. It was nearly 10 months ago that Solana first teased the radical potential of a cellphone that doubled as a dedicated crypto hardware wallet, and the possibilities such a product could hold for its entire ecosystem.

The new device from Solana Mobile costs $1,000 and is built on hardware from Bay Area smartphone company OSOM. It has 512 GB of storage, two versatile back camera lenses, a 6.67-inch OLED display and a fingerprint scanner. It will ship with the latest Android operating system installed.

What makes the Saga different, according to Solana, is the “Solana Mobile Stack” (SMS), a lineup of custom add-ons that integrate crypto usefulness into the phone’s hardware and software. SMS has ingrained security features to provide for sending, receiving, trading and storing crypto on the device.

Saga’s secure element – the hack-resistant part of the smartphone where confidential information lives – is customized with a “seed vault” that stores a crypto user’s private keys. Keeping keys separate from the rest of the phone’s data makes them more secure, Solana says.

Saga has a custom “dapp” store that only lists crypto applications. Currently, over one dozen applications covering crypto trading, inter-wallet communications, music and digital collectibles were available for download, with more expected over time.

Solana says it won’t impose “extractive fees” on dapp store apps, a dig at the 30% tax Apple and Google charge on their respective storefronts. Its dapp store is separate from Android’s “Google Play” (also on Saga).

Phone maker names from the big – HTC – to the small – Sirin Labs have previously failed in their efforts to create a crypto-forward smartphone, setting an ominous precedent for Solana, a device built for and marketed to a single crypto ecosystem.

That ecosystem has taken a hit since June 2022, when Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko unveiled the Saga at a New York City event that headlined Sam Bankman-Fried, then the FTX exchange CEO and now an alleged crypto fraudster. Solana’s community of partisan developers and traders grew increasingly defensive even as some of Solana’s core technology repeatedly flailed.

Going big on mobile may provide more than a chance at narrative reset – according to employees at Solana ecosystem booster, the Foundation, it's an opportunity to put crypto in people’s pockets, where the rest of the digital world has already gone.

Edited by Stephen Alpher.


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Danny Nelson

Danny is CoinDesk's Managing Editor for Data & Tokens. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.