After more than a year of hype building, Sirin Labs is finally launching the Sirin Finney smartphone today. It looks like no other phone, it comes with a crypto wallet. It’s also endorsed by soccer god Leo Messi. But is it worth your hard-earned bitcoin?
The Finney — named after the late bitcoin pioneer Hal Finney — is only Sirin Labs’ second product, following the outrageously expensive Solarin. The Solarin targeted security-minded users, but at $16,000 a pop, it was a hard sell. With the Finney, Sirin is hitting a much more palatable price tag of $1,000, or rather, the equivalent amount in Bitcoin, Ether, or Sirin’s own token, SRN. While that price is pretty mainstream nowadays, it’s far from an impulse buy, even though customers with an appetite for crypto might not balk at the premium.
Up for pre-order from today, the Sirin Finney will ship in December. Initially, customers will only be able to purchase it using one of the cryptocurrencies mentioned above (HTC did something similar with the Exodus), but Sirin told us it will allow regular credit card payments in the near future. The company will also guide customers through the process of acquiring cryptocurrency, in case they don’t own any already.
To promote the Finney, Sirin will open “flagship concept stores” in London and Tokyo. The spaces will double as “blockchain academies” that will promote the adoption of distributed ledger technology. The phone will also be offered through Amazon’s Launchpad program, which highlights and promotes innovative products from startups.
Zvi Landau, co-CEO of Sirin Labs, told Android Authority the Finney will be initially sold in Europe, with Japan and the U.S. to follow by February-March 2019.
Sirin Labs partnered with Foxconn to develop the Finney. The Chinese giant engineered and manufactured most of the hardware, while Sirin handled the software and some of the crypto-specific hardware. The phone runs Android 8.1 and, despite some of the earlier reports, the software is not actually an Android fork. Sirin OS is Google-certified and comes with the Play Store and a suite of Google apps pre-installed. In fact, other than some preloaded Sirin apps, users won’t see much in terms of customization, as most of the changes in Sirin OS are under the hood. The company claims it hardened Android, from the kernel to the application level, providing additional security over the stock operating system.
Sirin Labs sees the Finney as a pilot device meant to showcase the capabilities of Sirin OS, similar to what Google did with the original Android phone, the T-Mobile G1. The OS is the real product, Zvi Landau told Android Authority, and Sirin says it’s in talks with several OEMs to license its software for their own blockchain phones. Landau would not reveal who these companies are, but said they are important players in the industry. Back in March 2018, Bloomberg reported that Huawei discussed partnering with Sirin, though it’s not clear if the talks have led to anything palpable.
The Sirin Finney’s specs are mostly in line with 2018 flagships, including Snapdragon 845, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of expandable storage. The phone features a 6-inch Full HD+ LCD display with a notch, a 3,280mAh battery that charges up to 50 percent in 30 minutes, a single 12MP f/1.8 camera on the rear, and an 8MP wide-angle selfie camera. The phone’s two large speakers are mounted sideways, and there’s no 3.5mm audio port. A fingerprint sensor is embedded into the “shield” on the rear of the phone.
You can see the full Sirin Finney specs below:
|Sirin Labs' Finney Specs|
2,160 x 1,080 resolution
18:9 aspect ratio
2-inch pop-up "Safe Screen"
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845|
|Storage||128GB internal storage
microSD slot for expandable storage
Single lens at 12MP
Dual phase detection AF
Single lens at 8MP
85-degree wide angle for selfies
|Connectivity||LTE CAT 12
Supports 23 bands
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Single nano-SIM slot
|Security||Rear fingerprint scanner
|Operating System||Android 8.1 Oreo|
What really sets the Finney apart is, of course, the built-in “cold storage wallet” for cryptocurrency. Dubbed Safe Screen, it slides up from the back of the device, akin to the Oppo Find X’s pop-up camera. The wallet has its own hardware, acting almost as a second device tacked to the back of a normal phone. Sirin claims the only connection between the phone and the wallet is a hardware “firewall” that should prevent any attackers from stealing information stored in the wallet. To enforce this separation, the wallet features its own touchscreen, albeit a very basic one. This makes it possible to enter passwords and access stored tokens without interacting with the Android OS. The wallet only receives power when the secondary screen is popped opened, which is why it needs several seconds to “warm up” before it can be used.
Ultimately, the point of the wallet is to offer cryptocurrency owners peace of mind that their tokens are safe, but still within their reach. Facing the danger of costly hacks, many owners rely on keeping their tokens completely offline, with all the associated drawbacks.
Aside from storing cryptocurrencies, the Finney also allows users to quickly convert Bitcoin and Ethereum via the SRN token. The phone also comes with a Sirin app store, where users can find various crypto-related apps.
We were pretty skeptical about Sirin Labs and its lofty promises, but the company appears to have delivered on two key points. It reportedly collected over $150 million in funding via its SRN ICO last year and now it’s close to actually putting the Finney into the hands of customers. There are still questions, and it remains to be seen if the company will actually convince customers to shell out the money, but it looks like the Finney is not just vaporware.
We’ll have a hands-on with the device pretty soon, while a full review will give us a better idea of how good the Finney actually is. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts in the comments.