Solana Saga domestic unboxing and first test: Is the $1000 Web3 phone really worth buying?
Solana Saga unboxing and first test: Is the $1000 Web3 phone worth it?
Author: Yobo, Foresight News
Preface: Thanks to Daniel from Solana Foundation for his human cross-border express delivery service, which allowed me to experience this hard-to-buy phone. I hope he won’t block me after reading this.
Saga is cool, not only because of its story, but also because of the special meaning that Solana gives it in Web3.
But Saga is not good enough, at least as a flagship phone, the completion is far from satisfactory.
In 2014, Andy Rubin, known as the father of Android, left Google and took away a huge severance payment of up to 90 million US dollars. However, his legendary life encountered a somewhat bad turning point. In 2017, Andy launched his first phone, Essential Phone. To this day, this phone, which is forever linked to the “father of Android”, is still sought after by tech enthusiasts, but the poor product design and unreasonable official price of Essential did not make enough Android users pay for faith, and Essential soon went bankrupt.
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In 2021, some members of the Essential team once again entered the smartphone market under the brand OSMO and announced their first phone, OSOMOV1. However, the story of a comeback is still full of challenges. In June of last year, OSOM announced that OV1 was officially renamed, and the name of the protagonist of this article, Saga, finally surfaced.
The Snapdragon 8+’s predecessor flagship processor, a dual lens camera that barely counts, and a rear fingerprint module that hasn’t appeared on flagship phones since the Snapdragon 845 era (Qualcomm’s flagship chip has been iterated seven times since then, and has gone through a complete cycle from Ice Dragon to Fire Dragon and back to Ice Dragon). In the current era where Sony has squeezed a 5000mAh battery into a body weighing less than 190g, Saga managed to fit a 4200mAh small battery into a whopping 247g body. Looking at the specs, it’s a series of incredible combinations, matched with a price of $1000, making you feel like saying “wow” at least five times. This time, is Saga going to make users suffocate for “faith”?
With a head full of question marks, I played around with this phone for a few days. Although the overall lack of hardware has pegged its ceiling to a not-so-high level, some novel attempts may really attract a small number of digital geeks who will be “killed” by curiosity.
To get to the point, let me start with the most core part of the Saga product premium – “Solana Ecology” and “Seed Vault +dApp App Store”.
(PS: If you are more interested in the product itself, you can skip the next chapter and read the conventional unboxing part first. But a friendly reminder, after skipping and reading to the end, please remember to go back to this position and read the most important reason why Saga can become Saga from OV1.) Solana, Seed Vault…everything you can’t see on an ordinary phone
Seed Vault is a hosting solution for seed phrases, and it is an important function that you can perceive when you first open Saga and activate it. The wallet mnemonic will be stored in a local secure environment and supports fingerprint quick signing and other operations. During the process of activating the phone, you will be prompted to create or bind a Solana wallet, and users familiar with wallet operations should have no obstacles, just import the mnemonic.
The wallets supported by default include Phantom and Solflare, and the operation of wallet binding has no threshold. After setting up in the seed vault, you only need to verify and confirm with your fingerprint.
After binding, you can receive 20 USDC and 0.01 SOL tokens, which are used to reduce the threshold for new users to experience Solana ecological applications. In addition, you can also receive Saga commemorative NFT airdrops.
As of the time of writing, the dApp application market built into the mobile phone has launched 36 applications, covering wallet, DeFi, NFT, social, audio and video, games, browsers, etc.
I tried MagicEden briefly and found that it is very easy to use fingerprint verification for signature validation. However, during the verification process, errors occasionally occur, and it is necessary to try one or two more times. It remains to be seen whether this is due to a network issue that is a special case.
In addition to the on-shelf applications, Saga also supports opening Solana applications directly in the browser, calling SeedVault to quickly link wallets and interact. However, compared to dApp applications that have already been launched, the probability of this operation failing is higher, and some applications also have situations where clicking the connect wallet button has no effect at all.
When downloading the application from the dApp application market, I encountered a situation where GooglePlay warned of risks. Web2 and Web3 are really incompatible (manually dog head.jpg).
I specially experienced Mintyfresh, which was once “named and praised” by the official, which is a dApp that can generate images or camera shots into NFTs with one click. The interaction logic is very simple, connect the wallet – select the picture – cast it, but I tested several pictures, but they could not be successfully deployed to the chain due to unknown errors. Because of the rush of time, I was unable to completely solve the problem. Currently, Web3 applications have indeed implemented some user-friendly functions, but the problem of user experience remains long and arduous.
At least Saga has shown us another possibility besides Apple AppStore and various Android app stores, a possibility that can bypass the complicated review process, allowing creators and developers to release their imagination more directly, and can further narrow the distance between application publishers and users. Isn’t this exactly the goal that Web3 wants to achieve?
Starting from the mobile phone with the highest daily usage frequency, simplifying the mobile interaction logic, allowing more people to directly reach excellent dApps in the on-chain ecology, Solana’s attempt may still seem clumsy at present, but I think the imagined space in the future is worth looking forward to.
Seriously open the box
Next, let’s forget about the platform that published this article and return to a normal phone unboxing experience.
The size of the phone’s packaging box indicates that it is probably environmentally friendly. Don’t even think about the charging head. The plastic packaging is of poor quality and is certainly not up to par for a $1000 price tag, but wild America may not care about these things.
Compared to hasty plastic packaging, the pull-and-slide design of the packaging itself is much more comfortable to handle, and it doesn’t even need to use a very stupid snap-on lid, which can be given full marks.
Pull everything out and take a picture for posterity. Everything except the phone itself should never leave the cabinet again.
For the past year or so, the author has been using an iPhone 12 Pro and a Flip3 as the main and backup phones, so the first impression of Saga is that it is heavy. The overall quality of the machine is better than imagined, the metal treatment of the frame is great, the 2.5D glass can ensure that there is no cutting feeling when sliding the edge, and the matte metal texture is much more resistant to fingerprints than the Apple Pro series, which has been using bright stainless steel for several years, making it much more comfortable for those with OCD. The feel of the ceramic backplate is self-evident, and the warm feeling of the ceramic is obvious to the touch, except that it is not as good at resisting fingerprints as the very few glass panels that have been specially treated.
Although, in the current situation where mobile imaging has exploded and the rear camera module is becoming more and more outrageous, the protrusion of Saga’s rear camera is not high, but because the module shape is triangular, the bottom of the protrusion is a small triangular corner with a relatively small area, and when placed on a tabletop with the screen facing up, the sense of shake is obvious when operating it. If you are willing to add a phone case, you can basically solve the problem. However, when I searched on X Bao, I really didn’t find a phone case, and since it is already heavy enough, let’s just use it without a case.
One small regret about the front camera is that it does not have a black coating. I even suspect that it was designed in this silver ring style. This kind of behavior that directly destroys the integrity is a bit confusing.
The three side buttons are processed into green, adding a lively feeling. However, one is that green seems to have nothing to do with Solana, and the other is that the power button is so small and placed in the golden position of the right thumb. The frequency of misoperation of the volume down and power buttons is still quite high after I have used it for a few days. The bonus item has been successfully pulled back to the level of nothing.
Activation requires scientific internet access, otherwise WiFi will always remind you that it cannot access the network, even if you skip online activation and go directly to the system. But in fact, accessing websites within the wall is not a problem, so you don’t need me to continue to say what you can do.
The system is just a standard native Android, with Android 13 out of the box. I don’t know how many major versions the official can push for upgrades. There is only Google’s full set of tools out of the box, and nothing else, which is very comfortable.
The screen has three refresh rates to choose from (60, 90, 120), and the first impression of the fineness is still acceptable. After all, the 2400✖1080 resolution can be called a 2K screen for domestic manufacturers.
However, the color of the screen is a bit explosive, and it turns red under a light background. This is the case under all brightness levels. I feel that this is why this machine defaults to dark mode. As a member of the light color party, I briefly used it for a few hours and then switched back to dark mode obediently.
For the rear fingerprint entry, it takes about 15-16 times to enter one finger, which is not surprising “nostalgic” operation.
As for the camera, the main camera is the IMX766 that Huawei has already polished, but after removing the algorithm, it has been two years ago, and there is no need to have too much expectation. The wide-angle lens is IMX373, which is the sensor used by the front camera of Xiaomi 6X released 5 years ago. You can say whether it is “retro” or not. I took a few random samples, only looking at color restoration and not composition.
The overall style is a standard saturation warrior. It is not surprising that 766 does not have Huawei’s algorithm and its old age is revealed. In this operation, the large red color in Figure 4 is blurred. In well-lit situations, the details are not good, and the uploaded image has been compressed several times. It is estimated that the details cannot be seen. The original image of the petal part in Figure 2 has a significant oil painting effect. In scenes where thousands of yuan machines can already handle, there is a difference in the main camera part that can be seen at a glance, and the antique wide-angle and night scenes are really nothing to look forward to. Let’s just take a look at two simple samples.
This wide-angle lens perfectly captures the image quality of a front camera from five years ago, both in terms of central and edge sharpness, distortion correction and anti-purple fringing algorithms, and more.
As for night scenes, ummm, because I opened the night mode in an environment that was not that dark, I got the left picture, while the right one was taken by randomly pressing the S23Ultra default mode, and I don’t know what to say.
As an interesting point, Saga missed a bit of content when customizing the system, and the product name of OSMO is still left in the camera.
With such a large screen and high refresh rate, coupled with a battery of less than 4200mAh, the endurance is bound to be poor. The daily screen-on time is basically around 4 hours. If you have charging conditions sitting at a desk every day, there is no problem. Once you go out, you will have added anxiety. The charging speed is still far behind domestic Android phones, and this capacity should all have been used on the ceramic and middle frame.
A relatively big problem is that although the phone supports wireless charging, the position of the wireless charging coil needs to be very accurate. The Xiaomi 80W I’m using is quite friendly to the iPhone and Samsung on my hand, and it can be safely charged with just a throw. However, Saga must be placed very correctly, and the connection is often interrupted during the charging process, which is a very embarrassing user experience.
As for the external speaker, front camera effect, and gaming experience, I will not go into too much detail here. Judging from the thermal performance, it is an 8+ performance that has not done too many restrictions. Games like Genshin Impact, which are at the level of benchmark software, can definitely be played with the foundation of 8+, but it is definitely impossible to play comfortably. I believe that no one will use such a small battery phone as a gaming main machine, and there is limited significance in expanding non-targeted usage scenarios.
If we exclude the support from the Solana ecosystem, Saga, according to the pricing logic of current domestic Android devices, even considering the 12+512 configuration combination, ceramic back cover, and workmanship, such a small battery and screen performance, the reasonable price is difficult to exceed RMB 3,000, which means that more than half of the price of this phone needs to be reflected through the Solana ecosystem.
Therefore, the real question you need to consider before buying this phone is whether you are willing to pay for this deeply integrated interactive experience and the Solana ecosystem applications, or whether you are willing to pay to try to break the homogenization and internalization of the smartphone market by opening up on-chain application channels.
However, after experiencing it for three days, I have already put the SIM card from my Flip3 into Saga, making it my primary Android phone. After all, as a digital product enthusiast, what I want is for the technological iteration of smartphones to not make products more and more boring. Even if it is wishful thinking, I am willing to pay for that little bit of bold experimentation. Saga is not good enough, but it has given me back the desire to “play” with a phone that I have not felt for the past few years, and next, I look forward to more surprises from the Solana ecosystem.