Is the world ready for another smartphone? How about one that will cost $14,000 for its most basic model? Today, Sirin Labs — a startup put together by a team of founders out of Israel — used an event in London to unveil the Solarin, a privacy-first device “aimed at the international businessperson who carries a lot of sensitive information but doesn’t want to compromise on usability, quality or design.”
It is being dubbed the Rolls Royce of smartphones. So when Sirin Labs launches its secure smartphone this May, it will be priced in the region of $10,000 to $15,000 and will have one focus: security
The phone might still be successful, especially since the withering away of BlackBerry has left a vacuum none of the bigger brands have been able to fill. “After over two years of intensive research and development, SIRIN LABS is poised to present our first product, a mobile phone built without restriction or compromise,” screams the company website. But there is not much info on the phone itself, except for the suggestion that it might be called Solarin. The phone will be launched at the company’s flagship store in London.
The company has been founded by Kazakh investor Kenges Rakishev, Israeli venture capitalist Moshe Hogeg and McKinsey-trained serial entrepreneur Tal Cohen. The first two joined in 2012, while Cohen became a part of the company a year later.
But the trigger for creating a smartphone came in May 2013, when Kenges’ phone was hacked. By November, a team was in place in Switzerland, which the company calls a “natural choice for a global organisation delivering privacy-centric products of the highest quality and precision”. Soon, $72 million was raised in seed capital. In September 2015, the first prototype of the phone, dubbed SP1, was created.
The idea clearly seems to be to offer a military grade phone for Fortune 500 companies, but with access to all the apps they will need. “Tesla is a good example for us. They started with high priced cars, but today their car prices are much lower,”
The company already has at least one patent with more in the pipeline. It has also found support from some big names like former Sony Mobile CTO Takeshi Ito, who is on their Special Advisory Board since last October.
The Solarin’s camera has plenty of spec sheet appeal with a four-color flash sitting next to a 24-megapixel shooter with laser autofocus and f/2.0 lens. But its pictures are blurry, overexposed, and immediately unimpressive. Am I wrong to be offended by a company claiming something like this is the best when it’s so painfully obvious that it’s not? The front-facing 8-megapixel camera, which comes with its own flash, left a much more positive impression on me.
The rest of the Solarin’s specs are very solid. It has a beefy 4,000mAh battery and a very bright 1440p IPS LCD display with 120 percent coverage of the sRGB color space. 4GB of RAM and 128GB of non-expandable storage also add to its credibility as a premium device, but for such a globetrotting phone, not having a second SIM slot is something of an omission. The Solarin has three speakers, two positioned below the display and a single tweeter above the screen. Around the back, there’s a large sapphire glass cover for the camera lens and flash, which sits atop the power button with an integrated fingerprint sensor.
Other specs speak to global travellers: they include Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with X10 LTE and Wi-Fi; up to 450 Mbps downlink and up to 150 Mbps uplink speeds; support for 24 bands LTE compatibility; support for 802.11ac 2×2 MU-MIMO (multi user multiple input, multiple output) technology; and WiGig (802.11ad) multi-gigabit Wi-Fi technology. It will also include a 23.8-megapixel camera; and a 5.5” IPS LED 2k resolution screen.