By Handsome Bob | OCT 24, 2022
5:37 Min Read
Mobile is first, always.
At least that’s what they tell you on nearly any podcast, founder interview, or from people trolling on Twitter.
The future crypto growth markets are most likely to emerge from countries located outside the G7 nations. It is more and more obvious that mobile dApps are the easiest way to onboard the billion users needed for full international crypto adoption.
Regardless of the guidance of central banks, these nations with emerging digital economies are hungry for access to markets normally kept shut off from the masses. Those citizens lucky enough to have Internet access, a desktop computer, or a mobile phone are forced to find alternative methods to circumvent various obstacles. These include local firewalls, technological bureaucracy, or just plain terrible local currencies.
Web3 phones hope to fix all of this, and monetize these transactions in a scale probably never seen before.
Let’s take a look at the three current, major offerings:
Phone Maker: Nothing
Phone Specs: Snapdragon 778G, OLED 6.55”, 128-256 GB Storage, 8-12 GB RAM
Price: $500+/- USD
Software: Near-stock Android, very clean. Polygon ID, Polygon’s zero-knowledge, proof-based ID solution.
Glyph lights are a set of five lights, each with a different shape. They are very customizable. It is important to mention that Nothing Phone (1) is not specifically a ‘Polygon phone’.
Killer Feature: The ‘Polygon ID’ seems to be the product market fit that Polygon is looking for. It is not trying to be a crypto native phone. Moreover it is trying to be the wallet identity software that phone manufacturers make native to their OS.
Other Features: The glyph lights are pretty damn cool, although they seem more experimental right now than useful. Many reviewers mentioned that people right away would come up and ask what phone they had. The hardware design in general is something that’s pushing the envelope of the Nothing Phone (1).
Blockchain: Solana ($SOL)
Phone Maker: OSOM
Phone Specs: 6.67” OLED Display, 512 GB Storage, 12 GB RAM, Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Mobile Platform, Integrated Secure Element
Price: $1000 +/- USD
Software: SMS – Solana Mobile Stack, Android, Google Mobile Services
The Solana Mobile Stack, a web3 layer for Solana, built on Android. This allows for the decentralized dApp store, and all of the promise that three years can bring.
Seed Vault – Key custody solution. This bridges the gap between hardware wallet security and a software wallet’s great user experience. Your private keys and seeds are stored securely by a dedicated hardware security module called a secure element. This is commonly found in mobile devices. Keys are never shared with Android OS, or Solana applications running on the phone.
Solana engineers are hoping this becomes a foundational technology.
Mobile Wallet Adapter – This brings txs signing from dApp to Android. Using the user’s key on their behalf, this method is what a dApp asks a wallet to sign. ‘Mobile Wallet Adapter’ is open source. The dApps can be web-based, remote, or local.
Solana Pay – Tap to pay to Solana devices.
Solana dApp Store – Self explanatory. Non-predatory. No fees. Solana is hoping to have the store self-moderated by Solana Developers.
Blockchain: Binance Smart Chain ($BSC)
Phone Maker: HTC
Phone Specs: 6” Quad HD+ display(18:9), Snapdragon 845, 128 GB Storage, 6 GB RAM
Price: $1000 +/- USD
Software: Binance DEX in Zion App, Zion Key Management API, Zion Vault SDK, Native dApp Browser?
Killer Feature: Bitcoin Full Node on Mobile – stored on a 400GB micro SD card. Also includes hardware wallet isolated from the OS.
Other Features: I have to mention once more here the Binance DEX integration. For some reason, Binance Smart Chain is often overlooked, even though it tends to be the elephant chain in the room. Binance is the king of onboarding users onto its blockchain and it would be foolish to fade the king.
Perceived as the centralized enemy of crypto freedoms, Binance is still a force to be reckoned with and it should be no different in the mobile web3 wars to come.
All of these phones are definitely placing a premium on style and wallet security. The web3, although prominent, is definitely presented as the soil for the dApps to grow. Wallet seeds and private keys are the building blocks towards DID’s (Decentralized IDs) and things like ‘Polygon ID’.
Do you want a software ID solution, or a straight-up full Bitcoin node on an SD card like HTC’s Exodus?
Solana’s Saga seems to have the hardware advantage. I purposely left out camera, battery, and other hardware comparisons as I was more interested in the straight web3 crypto arguments. I paid lighter weight to the straight hardware power in this list. I’m sure hardware power will change over the next few years as these companies adapt and experiment.
Design and style seem the major intro piece to all three phones I’ve discussed. The Nothing Phone (1), for instance, has a glass back with glyph lights, and iPhone comparisons. This is juxtaposed with Saga’s clean design, no fancy lights, but masterwork-level machining and design by OSOM. Exodus seems to also be somewhere in the middle of the two.
That being said, clearly these are all well-designed, beautiful pieces of hardware.
As for the crypto integrations we see three different visions.
Exodus appears to be laying claim to the Bitcoin brand with the full bitcoin node. I think this is a major selling point. That being said, it’s confusing with the Binance partnership. Binance is somewhat anathema to everything Bitcoin generally stands for.
Saga is going all-in with the Solana Mobile Stack. Tech geeks have been praying for a truly native crypto phone with a built-in dApp store. The combination of Solana Pay with the ‘secure element’ for safe keys and seed phrases should help grow Mobile adoption for Solana.
Nobody Phone (1) is a bit more in the middle. Polygon ID seems to be more in the middle between software and hardware. It might be possible to imagine Polygon using their purchased ZK proof technology to end up winning the digital identity war, but losing the integrated phone battle.
If mainstream phone manufacturers choose to integrate first with Polygon ID before Saga, and if Exodus gets traction, it could be a very quick battle for global mobile dominance.
All in all, it’s an impressive line-up of phones and approaches to the future of crypto, payment solutions, and web3 designs. It will be interesting who Coinbase partners up with, as Google recently announced their plans to use Coinbase to accept cloud payments.
The future is very tech forward when it comes to the future of crypto phones.