Solana Labs is developing a Web3 mobile phone on Android

    25 Jun 2022

    Solana Labs is developing its own mobile phone titled “Saga,” an Android handset featured with Web3 dApps, integrated “Solana Pay” for QR-code payments, a mobile wallet, and a “seed vault” for private keys. According to Solana backers, the devices will cost around $1,000 and be available in early 2023.

    At an event in New York, the upcoming device was announced Thursday by Solana Labs CEO Anatoly Yakovenko. Modified OSOM handset, with specialty crypto wallet functions and the “Solana Mobile Stack (SMS)” software development kit for Web3 programs, will cost about $1,000 and be available for delivery in early 2023.

    The new development marks Solana’s biggest bet yet on mobile-focused growth. The phone will feature a Web3 dApp (decentralized app) store, integrated “Solana Pay” to facilitate QR code-based on-chain payments, a mobile wallet adapter, and a “seed vault” that will store private keys deep within the recesses of the phone.

    “Everything is going mobile. In most countries, most of the access happens through mobile phones,” said Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of crypto exchange FTX and a key Solana backer at the event.

    He noted how clunky accessing dApps on mobile devices is now, adding: “But crypto mobile is behind the times. The best solution for this is having the actual wallet built into your phone.”

    According to Solana Labs, it will work with other companies to power the ecosystem to build the phone, including Magic Eden, the top NFT (non-fungible token) marketplace, Phantom, the biggest wallet provider, and Orca, a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform. Executives from all three were on hand to discuss the upcoming mobile experience.

    The executives contrasted the Solana phone app store with the marketplaces from Google and Apple. “There will be no extractive fees,” Yakovenko, a Solana co-founder, added.

    The Solana Foundation pledged $10 million toward spurring the development of mobile apps on its SMS.

    “We live our lives on our mobile devices – except for Web3 because there hasn’t been a mobile-centric approach to private key management,” Yakovenko said. “The Solana Mobile Stack shows a new path forward on Solana that is open source, secure, optimized for Web3, and easy to use.”

    “Saga” is not the first Web3 smartphone attempt. In 2018, Sirin Labs pursued plans to ship a blockchain-native phone but faced layoffs and litigation as the product failed to gain traction.

    Concerning the shortcomings of past forays to bring crypto-friendly phones to market, Yakovenko, a former Qualcomm engineer, said the Solana phone was better positioned for success because there are more crypto developers in the space relative to 2018.

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