Sirin Labs Solarin hands-on: £20k Android super phone packs military security, WiGig and more
Sirin Labs has raised over £72 million to launch a super secure Android smartphone called Solarin, which it’s going to sell for £20,000. It feels like a high-end alternative to BlackBerry, running Android. What’s not to love? Oh, yeah, that price.
While there’s a lot of money involved in this new handset it’s not about bling – security and quality are at another level. This is being claimed as the world’s most advanced privacy tech outside of the agency world of spies.
The idea is to combine high-end military-grade security software with a consumer focused handset, based on Android. The plan was also to buy all the best components, some bespoke, for the best phone in the world.
The Solarin phone will be available from stores located in Mayfair and Knightsbridge from 1 June and is aimed at international high-end business users. For now we go hands-on to find out more.
Solarin: Design, display and build
The handset’s metallic edge is titanium made from the same company that creates some of the best watch bezels in the world, apparently. Though the name would not be revealed. That material is strong, light and impervious to the elements. Good start then.
The rear uses a leather material which offers both grip and quality. It’s design to look like carbon fibre and feels tough while looking more premium than even the leather efforts of LG’s G5.
The 5.5-inch IPS LED 2K screen is, the company says, the best in the world thanks to brightness, 120 per cent sRGB colour gammut and battery performance. The company says it’s better than going for 4K. This is encased in Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4 with curved top and bottom – but we didn’t test scratch resistance using our house keys. The display was impressive though with excellent brightness and colours then reminded us of 4K HDR televisions. Although this was indoor, in the dark.
Qualcomm has built the Snapdragon 820 chip for this phone with plenty of security upgrades. Since this now has a newer version the company is working on an upgraded version already.
Solarin: Security and software
Thanks to a chip-to-chip 256-bit AES encryption – something that the military currently uses around the world – the phone is the most secure consumer device on the planet, apparently. The rear of the handset features a button that switches the phone into shielded mode, this is called Security Switch. then you tap the fingerprint reader and enter that mode.
In secure mode the phone only connects to other Solarin handsets for calls and messages – everything else is shut off. But in this state there is virtually no way anyone can get to you data.
To show off just how easy it is to hack a normal phone we were hacked while in the press conference for this phone’s launch. It sure puts the reality of how insecure our phones are to the front of our minds. The Solarin handsets, out of super secure mode, use secure systems which work to protect the handset all the time – advising you to come off Wi-Fi if it’s not secure, for example.
The point of Solarin isn’t just to stop attacks but also to offer analysis live as the attack is happening so the person can actually be tracked in real time and stopped, or failing that, it can be analysed to stop any chance of getting that close in future.
Solarin: Camera, battery and extras
The 24-megapixel camera has been independently adjudicated for the best quality and is backed by a first – a four colour flash. This is also under the same piece of Gorilla Glass 4 as the camera lens, another first, to offer the best design, placement and lighting as it can be brighter than through traditional plastic. The shots looked great even in low light with the f/2.0 aperture.
The front-facing camera is an f/2.2 8-megapixel selfie snapper backed by its own flash. This worked really well even in low light conditions. Ideal for those billionaire clubbing shots with fancy bottles of plonk then.
Three bass boosted speakers linked by a high-end amplifier and fronted by a fine metal mesh grille make up the audio. This not only looks good but ensure crystal sound up to 90db, yup that’s a proper speaker system, level. Plug into decent headphones and the DAC will make sure you have the best audio experience possible. Although we didn’t get to test this.
Microphones are used to track voices in relation to the speaker so that conference calls can be crystal clear.
The handset has 24 band LTE for world wide connectivity. That’s more than any other handset in the world. It is also the first phone with Wi-Gig 802.11ad which should mean, when networks support it, this phone will run up to 7Gbps one day – meaning a full HD movie download in just five seconds. Of course right now it’s so ahead of its time you can’t use it really.
A 4000mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge should ensure this beast keeps powering on well past a full day of use.
For £20,000 this handset aims at a very specific market. But for those people that want top level security without carrying around military hardware this is a great alternative.
The nice touch here is that the phone isn’t just about security but pushes the boundaries of design, camera, display and build too – so there’s no need for compromise.
The fact that security only works for calls and messages, and essentially puts you in airplane mode, might be limiting for some. But for those that want to make a call in total secure comfort, it’s ideal.
IF you have the cash and are particularly worried about privacy, this is the phone for you.