How much is privacy worth to you? If the answer is “a lot” and you have tens of thousands of dollars to burn, you might want to check out the new Solarin Android smartphone, a $16,500 handheld that its makers claim is “the best in the world”. For that price, it better be!
Solarin has been in development for the last two and a half years and was finally launched this week, during a high-profile event in London. Its makers say it has the best display, the best smartphone camera, the loudest and richest speakers, more 4G LTE bands than any other phone and Wi-Fi speeds up to ten times faster than today’s networks. Sounds like a Trump product, doesn’t it? But’s it’s not, we checked. Solarin is the first product of Sirin Labs, an Israeli startup targeting the premium sector.
Those claims are certainly very impressive – although reports state that the reality is a little bit different – but what’s supposed to really set Solarin apart from all other commercially available handhelds is the unmatched security it offers. “Solarin comes with Zimperium state-of-the-art mobile threat protection that thwarts the broadest array of advanced device, network, and application mobile cyberattacks, without impairing usability or functionality of a top-of-the-range smartphone,” a Sirin Labs press release claims. “In addition, Solarin incorporates the most advanced privacy technology, currently unavailable outside the agency world. Sirin Labs partnered with KoolSpan to integrate chip-to-chip 256-bit AES encryption, the same technology that militaries around the world use to protect their communications, offering the strongest possible mobile privacy protection worldwide.”
Solarin also has a Security Switch on the back that when flipped turns the device into a super-secure smartphone that only allows outgoing voice calls and securely encrypted messaging. But Sirin Labs specifies that there is no such thing as a 100 percent secure solution. “We’re not saying it’s unhackable, but at least we will detect it,” says Zuk Avraham, CEO and founder of Zimperium mobile security. “We’ll be able to reverse-engineer the attacks, see what they tried to do. Even disinfect the phone without the user having to do anything. There is 24/7 incident response at both Zimperium and Sirin that monitors all of these devices.”
While the security may justify a higher price than that of regular smartphones, the internal components certainly do not. According to BGR, Solarin would have been a top end device in 2015, but definitely not this year. It packs a 5.5-inch 2K display, a Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 23.8-megapixel camera with laser-assisted autofocus, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera and a 4,040 mAh battery. That impressive-sounding camera apparently takes photos that are “blurry, overexposed, and immediately unimpressive,” according to The Verge.
So what else does Solarin offer that could possibly justify the scary $16,500 price tag? Well, it sports a titanium and leather design by celebrated industrial designer Karim Rashid, comes with a heavily skinned Android 5.1.1 operating system and weighs a whopping 250 grams. I guess that last one isn’t exactly a great selling point unless you enjoy carrying half a pound in your pocket.
But Sirin Labs don’t seem very concerned about potential customers being put off by the ridiculous price. “Price is not on our agenda,” Sirin Labs’ president and co-founder Moshe Hogeg said during the launch event. “I believe that the market is going to grow very quickly,” Sirin Labs advisory board member Rami Efrati added. “People are ready to pay, because you know how much you are going to lose.”
Photos: Sirin Labs