It’s a smartphone aimed at “the international businessperson” that promises to deliver “tomorrow’s technology today,” and it will set customers back a cool $17,000. But the Solarin smartphone, from Israeli startup Sirin Labs, is using a processor that was introduced over two years ago and has been known to overheat to the point of shutting down.
The Solarin smartphone was unveiled at an event in central London on Tuesday, with Sirin Labs calling it the world’s first “truly smart phone.” Its biggest selling points are its security features, including military-grade encryption and state-of-the-art mobile threat protection supplied by enterprise mobile security experts Zimperium.
Sirin Labs claims these measures will “thwart the broadest array of advanced device, network and application mobile cyberattacks, without impairing usability or functionality of a top-of-the-range smartphone.” Users will feel like James Bond when they activate a "shielded mode" using a physical security switch on the rear cover that will allow them to make fully encrypted calls.
The phone will go on sale in London priced at £9,500 plus VAT, which will bring the total to just under $17,000. “We do not accept that price drives what’s available in technology,” Moshe Hogeg, president and co-founder of Sirin Labs, said in a statement. "With Solarin, we break the rules.”
While most smartphone companies are competing to reduce the price of their devices, there are other manufacturers that sell smartphones around this price point, including Vertu, whose Signature Touch devices go for around $15,000. Sirin Labs uses a combination of titanium, carbon, leather and yellow gold in the construction of its phone.
Backed by $72 million in venture capital, Sirin claims the phone features cutting-edge technology that delivers “tomorrow’s technology today, to the toughest audience with the most exacting requirements.”
However, the phone is being powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 chip, which was introduced more than two years ago, in April 2014. The chipset gained notoriety when it was used by Sony in its Xperia Z3+ smartphone, launched last year, and it was learned it overheated and caused the smartphone to crash regularly when using certain applications.
Qualcomm says it has addressed the overheating problem in the latest versions of the 810 chipset, but the company has since launched the well-received Snapdragon 820 chipset, which is being used in premium smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10 and LG G5.
Sirin Labs was founded by Hogeg, who previously created the social app Yo; former McKinsey consultant Tal Cohen; and Kazakh businessman and petrochemical mogul Kenges Rakishev, who came up with the idea of a completely secure smartphone after his phone was hacked.
Since the demise of BlackBerry, which had been a leader in enterprise communications, a number of companies have been seeking to fill this gap in the market, with Silent Circle's Blackphone — which costs $799 — among the leading options.