An Israeli startup behind one of the world's most expensive phones has unveiled its latest device, which it hopes will simultaneously revolutionise smartphones and deliver cryptocurrency to the masses.
The Finney phone – named after the late bitcoin pioneer Hal Finney – follows the $16,000 Solarin smartphone by Sirin Labs, which was geared towards ultra-wealthy individuals. In contrast to its predecessor, the new device aims to reach as wide an audience as possible with a more modest price tag of $1,000.
It is unique both in terms of its software and hardware, having ditched the monolithic slab design adopted by most modern-day smartphone manufacturers. A twist to this ubiquitous design means the introduction of a hidden screen that slides up from behind the Finney's main display to reveal a cold-storage cryptocurrency wallet.
Sirin Labs describes the Finney phone as an "ultra-secure blockchain smartphone" that capitalises on the team's knowledge of cyber security and crypotcurrency.
"We're blockchain enthusiasts," Nimrod May, Sirin Labs' chief marketing officer, tells The Independent. "We want this phone to make all the benefits of blockchain technology available to as big an audience as possible, while making cryptocurrency accessible to the mainstream."
In order to bridge the gap between the blockchain economy and the mass market, Sirin Labs has sought to solve the two biggest barriers to the cryptocurrency market: security and user experience.
To help fund the Finney's development, Sirin Labs looked to the blockchain economy and launched an initial coin offering (ICO) – a new crowdfunding device that allows early backers to secure tokens of a new cryptocurrency. With over $157 million raised, Sirin Labs' ICO was the fourth largest in history.
In terms of specs, the Finney smartphone is able to compete with the best. It features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor – the same that Samsung uses in its flagship Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus smartphones – and a 6-inch display that features the same notch design as the iPhone X.
The Finney even manages to top Samsung with its 6GB RAM and 128 Gb storage memory, while an SD card slot allows for additional space if required.
Below the sliding screen at the rear is a fingerprint sensor and a 12 megapixel camera, which is complemented by an 8 megapixel selfie camera on the front.
The 3,280 mAh battery trumps both the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Apple's premium iPhone X, however it's unclear how this will translate when it comes to real-world usage.
But it's not the hardware that the executives at Sirin Labs are most excited about. The Sirin OS (operating system) that makes it the "world's first blockchain smartphone" could soon be making its way into other smartphones, thanks to partnerships with leading device manufacturers.
Sirin Labs claims to be "in the midst of conversations with many of the top OEM phone developers regarding having them use the Sirin OS in upcoming blockchain-enabled smartphones."
The firm is yet to reveal which firms have shown an interest, but existing partnerships with iPhone maker Foxconn – and the appointment of FC Barcelona's Lional Messi as brand ambassador – suggests Sirin Labs is once again aiming big.
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