Sirin Labs is swinging for the fences with Solarin, a new Android device that boasts “military grade” security and a price tag of $14,000. While we’ve seen luxury smartphones before, these are usually bling-heavy devices like the recently unveiled Caviar Putinphone. What you’re paying for with these devices is status, not functionality. Sirin aims to change this by bringing to market the world’s most secure smartphone. But do the features it offers really justify the cost?
Moshe Hogeg, co-founder of Sirin Labs, believes there are essentially two different types of rich people. On the one hand, you have “people who are too excited that they have money.” These are the sorts that Hogeg says are in the market for diamond-encrusted smartphones with golden frames. He doesn’t even want these kinds of people buying the Solarin because he sees them as “bad ambassadors” for the product. On the other hand, you have sophisticated demure types who “respect value.” It is this second group that Hogeg hopes to engage. “Our customers are very, very smart people,” he said.
But are they? Let’s take a look at the Sirin Solarin and see if forking over $14K would really be a sound financial investment. Well, it runs Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box, so you’re not really dealing with the most current version of the OS here. Also, the processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810. Yes, you read that correctly. The battery is pretty impressive, clocking in at 4,000mAh, but ‘holy broken wrists, Batman,’ the device weighs a staggering 250g, which is more than half a pound. I guess getting some forearm definition through regular use is kind of a perk. Hogeg calls the camera the “best in the world,” but so far those who have gone hands-on with the device are reporting fuzzy images that clearly aren’t on par with today’s main flagships.
Hogeg wasn’t kidding about his aversion to bling, because if you suffer from styleophobia, you’re going to feel right at home with the Solarin. The blocky beast is the furthest thing from flashy that you can imagine, and the wacky camera/power-button/fingerprint-scanner module on the back conjures to mind the shape of a urinal. The screen is 1440p IPS LCD, it runs on 4GB of RAM, and it has 128GB of non-expandable internal storage. Hogeg touts the smartphone as a device for globetrotting billionaires and business executives, but there’s only the one SIM card slot.
Our customers are very, very smart people.
Okay, okay. Maybe we’re being a bit too hard on the Solarin. After all, its main selling point is security, not high end specs. It’s true that the Solarin comes with the latest Google security patches pre-installed, a bragging right that only Nexus devices and the BlackBerry Priv can currently claim. It also has a switch on the back that throws it into ‘super-secure’ mode. Essentially, outgoing calls only, and all messages are securely encrypted. This mode also shuts down various hardware features, allegedly transforming the device into a hyper-secure brick.
$14,000 is what we keep coming back to. Is even hypothetical, absolute security worth $14,000? Actually, once you toss in taxes and such, you’re going to be forking over $16,000. Is the increased security that you get over grabbing, say, the BlackBerry Priv really worth the cost of a 2001 Porsche Boxster? We’re clearly a little dubious, but let us know what you think in the comments below!