Ring ring, Solana’s web3-facing Saga phone is calling

About 10 months ago, Solana’s co-founder and CEO, Anatoly Yakovenko, announced the launch of Saga, a web3-focused Android smartphone. The phone is now rolling out and we need to test one before it launches.

Solana says Saga was launched to make crypto products and services more accessible to users by offering them through a phone instead of the traditional way of accessing crypto platforms and applications, which is through computers.

I’ve had some interesting days with the Saga as my daily driver. Here’s what I thought of it.

Saga phone at a glance

Let’s get the basics out of the way: The $1,000 device comes in a black box containing the phone itself, a USB-C charging cable, and a physical paper card with seed phrase so you can write down your recovery phrase, which is a string of random words you need to access your crypto wallet.

The operating system of the phone is based on Android 13 and it comes with 512 GB of storage with a 6.67-inch OLED display.

The installation process is your standard Android experience, with the usual prompts for setting up your account and internet connection. You can skip most of this and set it up later, but I recommend setting up fingerprint unlock as it also serves as a verification method for signing crypto transactions.

I used Saga as my work phone for a few days. The phone’s 4011 mAh battery lasted about 1.5 days, starting at 82% Monday night when I unpacked it to about 4% Wednesday morning. So I would say it works well in terms of battery life.

The phone also has a built-in mobile wallet adapter, which is part of the Solana Mobile Stack (SMS) that is invisible to users, but is an infrastructure that connects dApps to wallets, Steven Laver, the technical lead at Solana Mobile, told MinRegion. Similar to how MetaMask has a connect button on its desktop client, this adapter is an “extended technology” that will bridge web dApps to mobile devices, he added.

The device also includes a web3-focused feature, the Seed Vault, which is embedded in the phone. Users can import a seed phrase from another crypto wallet or create a new one (Solana recommends creating a new one).

And that brings us to the core purpose of this phone’s existence: dApps.

A unique experience marred by bugs

Unlike typical Android devices, the Saga has web3 features and a “Solana dApp Store” where you can find apps for web3 platforms.

The store has a small handful of applications:

  • Four wallets: Phantom, Solflare, Ledger and Squads
  • Three DeFi apps: Marinade.finance, Jupiter, and Mango
  • Three NFT apps: Nokiamon, Minty Fresh and TIEXO
  • Three social apps: Dialect, Audius Music and urFeed
  • And the dApp “workspace”

Interestingly, Magic Eden is not on the list of dApp stores, even though the marketplace shared plans to partner with the Solana Mobile Stack (SMS) last year when Saga was announced. Post publication, Chris Akhavan, chief gaming officer at Magic Eden, told MinRegion in a tweet the app should go live soon and is currently in review status.

When the phone is released to the public “in the next two weeks,” the Solana team hopes more applications will be added to the dApp store, but Laver didn’t disclose to MinRegion how many the store would eventually house.

“We reached out to major players in the Solana ecosystem and those who recognize that mobile has won over everything else,” said Laver. “A lot of developers are realizing that mobile will eventually win and they want to be there when it happens.”

Saga owners get $20 USDC and 0.01 SOL, or $0.0026, as part of the dApp store welcome package. The 0.01 SOL wasn’t enough to play around with some applications, so I had a friend send my new crypto wallet a few dollars worth of SOL to test the dApps.

The dApp Store is currently giving rewards to Saga owners, including an air-dropped Saga genesis token, an NFT that grants access to rewards offered by dApps. The token is non-transferable and non-flammable, so users should ensure it is not connected to a temporary wallet.

We tested the Minty Fresh dApp and took a picture of ourselves in seconds for 0.01197 SOL. It now lives forever on the Solana blockchain and can be found here.

The process itself was simple – and admittedly, fun – but using the phone wasn’t the smoothest experience. The phone was slow at times and I had to close and reopen dApps multiple times as the crypto wallet and NFT coin platform kept crashing.

It’s worth noting that I faced these issues all the time I used the device, not just with dApps. I found myself having to close applications, tap the screen several times to unlock it, or use dApps, or even order an Uber.

That’s not a problem you want to have with a brand new phone.

Rollout and future plans

Laver said that while the phone is still in its infancy, there will be software upgrades over time to keep things fresh.

Last June, Yakovenko said the phone would ship in Q1 2023, but deliveries have since been pushed back to Q2. The phone is available for pre-order with a $100 deposit.

A number of major web3 companies such as crypto wallet Phantom, NFT marketplace Magic Eden, and now-collapsed crypto exchange FTX shared in June that they partnered with Solana to help launch the phone, alongside a $10 million developer fund for people who build apps on It.

This phone is an attempt for web3 to compete with Big Tech providers such as Apple, Microsoft and of course Android, but many are skeptical of its potential to do so given its niche market.

Last year, Yakovenko said the phone is “aimed at the hardcore people who know what self-preservation means. You have to start with a group that loves this product and grow from there.”

On the other hand, Laver sees this as a device for a larger crypto audience. He said Saga’s team is planning a marketing push with both crypto-native users and those who are “crypto-curious”.

“We want this to be someone’s phone,” Laver said. “This is the only phone I have with me, I don’t have a second phone; it does everything a phone should do plus web3 stuff.

Laver didn’t disclose the exact number of phones pre-ordered, but said the number was in the “high single digits of thousands”. The phone has been certified for sale in 33 countries and the company plans to expand to other countries in the long term, he added.

“We’re in this interesting place where we’re building interesting technologies, but we’re also interested to see where people take it next,” Laver said. “We don’t have an A, B, or C roadmap. We’ve done ‘A’ of building this phone, but we’re excited to see where people take it next for ‘B’ and ‘C’.”

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