Okay, I’ve been into the smartphone industry testing smartphones, talking about the ins and outs, the pros and cons, and have attended almost all of the world’s largest events to get exclusive early access to the products that are going to launch throughout the year. I’ve attended CES for years, MWC for years, and have run a YouTube channel making videos about smartphones and tech for over a decade.
Watch the video if you missed it.
So, what I am gonna dissect here from the video that Marques Brownlee made is going to be easy because I belong to both the industries – Tech, and Crypto. Okay, so firstly, I am a fan of MKBHD (for those who don’t know, he was MKBHD before changing it to his actual name on the channel) and have met him once at one of the CES events, and I love the work he does in terms of the video quality. But, the Solana Saga phone video is something where I wouldn’t agree with a few thoughts of his.
At the beginning of the video, Marques says “I have been notably skeptical on Crypto, Web3, Blockchain, and Metaverse.” So, he’s biased. It’s clear and he agrees to it. So, take a few points of his with a pinch of salt. Because you know the bias makes you say things you wouldn’t have said otherwise if you were completely unbiased.
Next, the phone launched at $1000, yep, but the current price is at $599 and it isn’t a temporary price drop too. It’s now the actual price so you have to mention that because otherwise, the assumption would be of this still being priced at $1000. Also, the ones who had got the phone at $1000 got the Clayno Saga NFT minted for themselves and it was easily around 20 SOL at the floor, which converts to about $400, so the price was never $1000 if you just went on to a marketplace and sold your NFT. I mean, this was to be mentioned but wasn’t. Apart from this, there were a few other rewards for the buyers, including Free BONK for Saga users, Saga-only sticker pack on Dialect, One month of free access to Helium Mobile (for users in the U.S.), Audius Exclusive music for Saga users, 50 HXD and automatic Beemium upgrade on Honeyland, and Genopets Early access and free toy for Saga users.
I liked the fact that Marques explains the entire backstory of how the Solana Saga phone came into existence. From the Essential Phone to OSOM to the phone, he’s talking about in the video.
“So okay, outside of those things, this OV1 or Solana phone is a very average Android phone”. Honestly, despite this having last year’s flagship Qualcomm chipset, it isn’t an average Android phone. It has 12 gigs of RAM, 512 GB storage, a 6.67-inch 120Hz Full HD display, 4100 mAh battery with wireless charging support. I mean, bring in a few competitors in the current pricing and you’d see these specs being quite good because even with the RAM and ROM, the other phones would have their top models with higher prices offering those. I agree with the camera part because I trust Marques with his camera samples and the sensors alone can’t do the job, and I am sure it isn’t the Pixel-grade software optimizing the pictures over here.
He mentions “$1000” several times, before finally at 6:00, he talks about the price plummeting down to $600. For the attention span of people who are into these kinds of stuff, the initial impression already makes people leave the video assuming that the price is still $1000 and they’d never bother to check the current pricing.
Okay, here’s where I agree with Marques.
The crypto features. I mean, except for the seed phrase storage (which I could actually write down and keep it safe otherwise anyway), the dApp store, and Solana Mobile Stack SDK are not something that makes people go run and buy this device. I mean, the dApp store is just another store allowing you to download the apps that are available on the Play Store too.
The USB cable is a cool one. The one that lets you choose whether to transfer only power or also send and receive data. That’s a well-thought-out feature inclusion inside of the cable. Marques mentions that the cable is available for $30 on Amazon so isn’t that special, I’d argue here that it’s only the Solana Saga phone that is giving this cable inside the box so that the users stay safe or understand the importance of it.
“At best, ahead of its time, but at worst, completely useless to most everyday people”. Umm, it’s not both. Not ahead of its time, but with a bit more feature additions to it, it’d be called right on time. It isn’t completely useless because even if we cannot really count the number of Solana users who trade NFTs in their ecosystem each day, the ones who do would see this at 30 SOL given the current price and get a piece of hardware that makes it easy for them to catch up on things while they are traveling when they don’t access their PCs, and I agree that it’s a niche product, but it does have its set of use cases. In crypto, market conditions decide a lot on what users would want to ape into, or not. That’s the case with Solana Saga, entering the market when the conditions aren’t favorable, I feel.
The only thing I’d be skeptical about here is how the software updates and feature additions would play out. For the current set of features, at some point, the user who is using this phone as a secondary one would question themselves on the need for it, but if there are regular additions of new and useful apps, and better usage of the SDK to bring in more integrations, maybe this is a perfect device for the Solana users.
So, why Marques making this video is still a good thing for Solana?
I’d say, it isn’t only good for Solana but for Crypto as a whole. He has the title “This is a Crypto Phone” and doesn’t mention Solana, but whatever the pros and cons he mentions, it reaches people who have ignored crypto as a whole for a long time. A video from one of the most influential voices in the tech world would be what we call “bullish” for the crypto space, not the other way around, even if he asks you not to buy the phone.
Also, who knows, maybe there might be a refresh or a next-gen device in the future (I am not expecting it based on the story of Essential Phone), and Marques might have to revisit and feel a bit more positive if the refresh brings in features that makes one actually want to use it more. Just a hope, but as I said, people from the non-crypto space who have a big voice talking about Crypto hardware are bullish, irrespective of how they feel about it.
I’m glad that Solana Saga was mentioned at all, and a whole video is an even bigger cause to be glad!
Source for featured image: Marques Brownlee