Solarin is Expensive & Secure – But Misses Features

Sirin Labs is a Swiss smartphone developer, whose name is not the most well-known. This is because the company steers clear of the mainstream market, and focuses on (very, very) niche segments. Its latest model, aimed at businessmen and -women, follows that trend – with its technologies, and a price tag to match.

The phone is called the ‘Solarin’, and it is said to be the world’s first handset using WiGig. This is a 60GHz wireless technology, and is part of 802.11ad which enables very high-speed data transfers (up to 7Gbps) over a short range (and display support – Man. Ed.). There aren’t many WiGig products available today, but companies like Intel have been investing in the protocol as the future of wireless docking.

In fact, communication speeds are key to the handset. Sirin Labs has used Qualcomm’s X10 LTE model, which supports 24 different 4G bands worldwide and reaches speeds of up to 450Mbps down and 150Mbps up.

Premium smartphones from brands like Vertu might be more expensive than mass-market models, but the experience of using them is much the same. The Solarin, though, is a bit different. Yes, it runs Android (5.1.1), but it also has a special secure mode. Using this, the phone is able to communicate only with other Solarin phones for encrypted calls and messages. WiFi, Bluetooth and so on are turned off in this mode. Anandtech notes that this implies that the phone uses a dedicated security chip to handle encryption and decryption. Even when working outside of secure mode, the phone uses 256-bit AES encryption for some chip-to-chip communication, as well as full disk encryption.

As for the hardware, the Solarin uses a 5.5″ display with an IPS panel (2560 x 1440), protected by 2.5D Gorilla Glass 4. Colour gamut coverage is 120% of sRGB. 128G of flash storage is built in, with 4GB of RAM. The chassis is built of a metal matrix composite with titanium panels – but the rear is made of leather.

A 23.8MP rear camera and 8MP front camera are built in, with a four-tone LED flash. The Solarin also boasts four microphones and three speakers. A 4,040mAh battery is used.

The Solarin will start at $13,800.

Analyst Comment

Sirin made the odd choice to run the phone on a Snapdragon 810 SoC – last year’s flagship, which several companies, including Samsung, skipped due to overheating issues – and did not provide a second SIM slot. Considering the phone’s globe-hopping audience, this feels like an omission. (TA)