MKBHD’s “Bust of the Year” Award Goes to Solana Mobile’s Sold-Out Saga Phone
Saga, a smartphone developed by Solana Mobile for the crypto community, has been named the “Bust of the Year” by Marques Brownlee (MKBHD), a prominent tech reviewer.
Solana Mobile, a branch of Solana Labs, ventured into the smartphone industry with the launch of the Saga in April 2023.
Priced initially at $1,000, the phone saw a price reduction in August to broaden its user base.
Now is the perfect time to switch to Saga.
Order Saga here: https://t.co/4ZIEs6Z0D7
— Solana Mobile 🌱 (@solanamobile) August 9, 2023
The Saga, developed with OSOM’s expertise, aims to revolutionize Web3 interactions on mobile devices, focusing on secure cryptocurrency and NFT transactions.
The Saga boasts a 6.67-inch OLED screen, 12 GB RAM, and 512 GB storage, powered by the Snapdragon® 8+ Gen 1 Mobile Platform. Its standout feature is the Solana Mobile Stack (SMS), integrating crypto functionalities into the phone’s hardware and software. The “seed vault” securely stores private keys, and the phone offers a unique dapp store, free from the high fees typical of Apple and Google’s app stores.
Anatoly Yakovenko, co-founder of Solana Labs, envisioned the Saga as a benchmark for mobile Web3 experiences. However, MKBHD’s review in September painted a different picture. He traced the Saga’s origins to the Essential Phone team, now part of OSOM. While praising its build quality, including a matte stainless steel frame and ceramic back, he noted its hefty weight and average specifications, such as a 1080p display and mediocre cameras. These factors, coupled with its initial high price, contributed to its later price reduction.
Marques Brownlee, also known as MKBHD, is a well-known American YouTuber, best recognized for his technology-focused content. He produces in-depth reviews, discussions, and analyses of various consumer electronics, including smartphones, computers, and other gadgets. Brownlee is highly regarded in the tech community for his insightful and detailed approach to tech reviews, offering viewers a comprehensive understanding of the latest technological advancements and products. His channel has garnered widespread popularity for its quality content and Brownlee’s expertise in the tech field.
Back in September, MKBHD reviewed the Saga, highlighting its crypto-centric features: the SMS, Seed Vault, and Dapp store. However, he critiqued the SMS for its exclusive focus on the Solana blockchain, limiting its appeal. The Seed Vault, while secure, and the Dapp store, though unique, did not fully justify the phone’s price, even after the reduction.
Despite these criticisms, the Saga saw a sales surge in mid-December 2023, driven by the crypto community’s enthusiasm. Each Saga owner was entitled to an airdrop of 30 million Bonk (BONK) tokens, potentially equating to a $1,000 return on a $599 investment. This led to the phone selling out, as announced by Solana Mobile on social media platform X.
The Saga is SOLD OUT!
Words cannot describe how much we appreciate your support. We are nothing without this amazing community 🫂
While these past few days will be cemented in our history, we’re excited for the future
Stay tuned ✨ pic.twitter.com/KJje8lBDLL
— Solana Mobile 🌱 (@solanamobile) December 16, 2023
However, following the sell-out, Solana Mobile faced challenges. An inventory management issue with their third-party distributor led to an overestimation of available devices, resulting in unfulfillable orders and subsequent cancellations for suspicious activities. Affected customers were promised refunds, but this did little to alleviate the disappointment and confusion in the community.
Last week, we saw an overwhelming demand for Saga, with sellouts in both the US & EU on our limited inventory of 20,000 devices produced globally.
In working to fulfill orders, we learned of an inventory management issue with our third-party distributor that resulted in an…
— Solana Mobile 🌱 (@solanamobile) December 22, 2023
MKBHD’s recent thread on X about the MKBHD Smartphone Awards 2023 further solidified the Saga’s controversial status. He labeled the Saga as the “Bust of the Year,” criticizing its underwhelming camera, display, and battery. He argued that its appeal is limited to Solana enthusiasts, overshadowing its high-quality build.
In contrast, other smartphones received more favorable recognition. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra was named the “Best Big Phone,” while the Asus Zenfone 10 took the title of “Best Compact Phone.” The iPhone 15 Pro won for the best camera, and the Samsung Galaxy A54 was celebrated for its value. The iPhone 15 Plus received the Battery Award, the Honor Magic V2 was lauded for its design, and the OnePlus Open was recognized as the best foldable. The “Most Improved” award went to the Nothing Phone 2, and the “Phone of the Year” award went to the Google Pixel 8.
Featured Image via MKBHD’s YouTube Channel