The Sirin Finney is among the first blockchain phones. Here's how it works.
The whole point of cryptocurrency is that it's virtual money stored in the ether. But you can still carry bitcoins in your pocket, as long as you have a Sirin Finney.
The Sirin Finney joins a selection of new phones dedicated to accessing the blockchain while you're away from your PC. And it does so in safety with a nifty little hardware trick.
Named after the late Hal Finney, the first person to receive a bitcoin transaction, the Finney is a crypto-focused device from Israeli company Sirin. Sirin launched with the outrageously decadent $16,000 Solarin phone in 2016, but the Finney will cost $1,000 (which converts to roughly £750 or AU$1,780).
We got our hands on a prototype ahead of the official launch coming soon. Although the device didn't run any software, we did get to see its hardware gimmick: a pop-up screen hidden inside the phone.
The pop-up screen is the physical manifestation of the phone's multiple layers of security. You start by using the Finney as a normal Android phone. When you want to access your cryptocurrency you switch to a secure encrypted section of the software. To approve a transaction, you slide out the second screen to launch a "cold wallet" that's kept separate from the rest of the phone. The cold wallet accessed through the small screen is closed off from the rest of the phone by a firewall so in theory it can't be hacked, ensuring that your currency and tokens are being sent to the correct party.
The phone runs on Sirin OS, a proprietary forked version of Android 8.1 Oreo. The software includes a multi-layer cybersecurity suite, a token conversion service (TCS) so you can seamlessly exchange cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum, and access to a store for decentralized apps (DApps).
The Finney is designed to make cryptocurrency easy to use for blockchain novices as well as experts. Look out for footballer Lionel Messi promoting the phone to the masses closer to launch. And you won't have to sacrifice decent features to enjoy the security of the Finney. Where decadent devices from the likes of Vertu wrap expensive materials around distinctively average phones, the Finney is as high end as the $1,000 price tag suggests.
It's encased in Gorilla Glass front and back, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and 6GB of RAM inside. There's 128GB of memory built-in, with space for an SD card to add more room. The 6-inch screen even keeps up to date with the latest trends with an iPhone-style notch at the top.
The 12-megapixel main camera, which boasts f/1.8 aperture, is neatly framed by a shield-shaped metallic surround. As well as looking nice, the raised surround also guides your finger to the fingerprint scanner when you need it and warns you if your finger strays too near when you don't.
Set to be built by Foxconn and released in November, the Finney will be on sale in Sirin stores in Tokyo, London and the US. You'll buy it with cryptocurrency. But if you're new to crypto, they'll help you get ahold of virtual money to make the purchase. When enough have been sold, Sirin is also planning to build a peer-to-peer network among Finney phones.
Sirin said it expects to sell at least 100,000 Finneys, if not more. There's certainly a lot of interest in blockchain phones: HTC is launching its HTC Exodus, while Sirin is hoping its open-source OS will appear on other manufacturers' devices.
Sirin promises we'll get our hands on a working model soon. Keep checking with CNET to see if the first blockchain phones put their money where their mouth is.