Sirin Labs, the same company that brought Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio to the London premiere of its spurious “world’s most secure phone” two years ago, is unveiling another Android device today with mighty claims and a prestigious endorsement. The new Finney smartphone is a bargain compared to its predecessor, costing $1,000 instead of $16,000, though it still comes with claims of the world’s best security and is competing with HTC’s Exodus for the title of being the first “blockchain phone.” It also carries world football superstar Lionel Messi’s stamp of approval.
If you’re thinking this phone sounds like every crypto nerd’s dream device, watching the above video will only confirm that suspicion. Sirin Labs is getting all the buzzwords in with phrases like decentralized economy, decentralized app stores, cold-storage wallets, and secure blockchain transactions. This isn’t intended to be a bitcoin-stashing phone, however; the default digital currency you’ll be using with the Finney is Sirin’s own SRN token. You won’t even be able to buy a Finney without SRN: its price is fixed in dollars, but Sirin will still auto-convert your payment into its digital coinage. It was the initial coin offering of that currency that enabled Sirin to now offer preorders for the Finney, having crowdfunded $157.8 million in SRN sales at the end of 2017. Mind you, the company doesn’t expect to start delivering phones before November.
So, to be clear, it’s a blockchain phone, which you can’t have until November, which you can only acquire via the digital coin magicked up by a phone manufacturer with a dubious track record, and which is designed to be used with that token as its primary means of exchange. With all the best will in the world, I can’t say I agree with Mr. Messi on recommending this.
Running Sirin OS, which is an “ultra-secure and Google-certified” fork of Android 8.1, the Sirin Labs Finney is powered by a conventional set of 2018 flagship phone components. There’s a Snapdragon 845 beneath its hood, accompanied by 6GB of RAM, 128GB of expandable storage, a 12-megapixel rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture and an 8-megapixel f/2.2 selfie camera. The 6-inch screen has an 18:9 aspect ratio and is framed by sizable bezels and a notch. The phone’s battery is rather average at 3,280mAh.
The most interesting engineering element of the Finney is its second touchscreen, which measures in at two inches and slides up from the body of the device much as the Oppo Find X’s cameras do. Sirin Labs describes this action as “warming up” the cold wallet, allowing you to securely transact with fellow crypto enthusiasts. It’s a cool idea to tie the device’s security state to its physical state, though it does seem to have led to Sirin, which outsources manufacturing to Foxconn, to design a relatively chunky phone (it’s 9.3mm thick in a world full of sub-8mm smartphone slabs).
Much as with Sirin’s first phone, the Solarin, the Finney looks too crude in its proportions and too full of improbable promises. Proceed, if you must, with caution.