Blockchain sector is witnessing tremendous developments of late and gadgets based on this emerging technology are no longer stuck at the concept stage! While you may not find your neighborhood teens or office coworkers toting blockchain phones- they are very much there. In the last few years, a number of brands including giants like Samsung and HTC have come up with their iterations of blockchain phones. There are some brands that have launched disruptive products in this niche too. One of them is Sirin labs. The Finney is its second offering in blockchain phone segment and it succeeds Solarin- the first offering. The device is named after Hal Finney, a cryptocurrency pioneer. It comes with a relatively lower price tag and an array of new features.
What is the Finney?
Finney is a Smartphone made by Foxconn and it runs a special version of Android called Sirin OS. The latter comes with support for hardware crypto wallet. It has a number of impressive features and the design is also unique-though it may not appeal to all users.
Impressive design and build
The Finney’s standout feature is its 2 inch secondary display that slides out on the top side. The screen has a resolution of 1080X 2160 pixels with 18:9 aspect ratio. The handset is 209 grams and heavier than typical android devices. The screen pixel density is 402 PPI-which is quite good.
Build quality is overall impressive but it is not exactly water resistant. The device comes with IP52 rating which makes it capable of surviving splashes of water but compared to iPhone XR’s IP67 rating- it is less immune to immersion in water. Sirin Labs says its design is inspired by modern sports cars. The metal and glass body is quiet slippery and there are cases available. The design has some resemblances with the predecessor -solarin. The fingerprint sensor is placed in a way that you can put your finger on the rear camera lens often-a problem that made the Galaxy Note 8 users irked.
The only blot on the otherwise impressive design of this phone is an unnecessary notch. The device has thick bezels and there is nothing like a face unlock. The notch actually holds the speaker. It does look odd and could have been done away with!
The USP: Safe screen
Different blockchain smartphone makers use different technique and methods to incorporate wallet in their devices. The safe screen slides out on the phone’s top and this activates its cold-storage crypto wallet. This is also secured through a hardware firewall. The PMOLED touch panel has a 2 inch display.
Near flagship grade spec
BY sheer hardware spec, it is hard to find fault with the Finney. The device is powered by the venerable Snapdragon 845 chipset and 6 GB Ram is there. Internal storage is pegged at 128 GB and external memory slot is also there. Wireless protocols are handled by a LTE Cat 12 class modem. Support for Bluetooth 5.0, NFC and 802.11ac wi-fi is there too. However, there is no FM radio. While the Snapdragon 845 is no longer Qualcomm’s most powerful CPU and Snapdragon 865 is around the corner, the former is still a mighty chipset.
In imaging department, the Finney has good spec- at least on paper. The rear camera has 12 MP resolutions with aperture of 1.8. The front camera has a 8 MP lens with f/2.2 lens. The camera supports auto HDR, dedicated low-light mode, EIS, auto white balance and more. Video recording at 4k is supported and slow motion support is there too.
The Finney packs in a 3,280mAh battery which comes with Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0 support. However, no wireless charging support is there.
The software and crypto centric features
You do not buy a blockchain Smartphone to take DSLR class images or run the newest games! You need to check the crypto centric features in such a device. The Sirin OS- which is a forked version of Android OS- can be segregated into 3 parts. These are- the dCENTER, cold-storage Finney Wallet and the Cyber Security Center.
The crypto wallet can be set up after you create a password with 24 seed words. Entering the password on the secondary display can be tedious for people with big thumbs and fingers. It has to be done two times- actually. You will need plenty of patience for this.
The wallet supports Sirin Labs’ SRN token, Ethereum and Bitcoin-as of now. When the crypto wallet is connected to the internet, a hardware firewall safeguards the communications made. The wallet lets you receive, convert and send cryptocurrency without hassles. The conversion function is bliss and you are spared from using any online exchange. However, keep in mind the Finney Wallet does not offer way to purchase cryptocurrency directly if you do not have any Ethereum/ Bitcoin currency.
The dCENTER is where you get access to a number of decentralised applications aka Dapps. These let you earn cryptocurrency for watching videos. There are 16 apps as of now.
The Sirin OS triumvirate also contains a Cyber Security Center. This includes Intrusion Protection System powered by machine-learning, App Lock, app whitelisting, secure communications and email.
Performance: almost there
Performance wise- it is hard to find fault with the Finney. It performs well in almost every department while not exactly emerging as the category best in any one! The Snapdragon 845- coupled with 6 GB ram handles multitasking, with multiple web page tabs and several apps in background-with ease. In synthetic benchmarks like Geekbench 4 and Antutu, it is on par with other Android flagship devices-as expected. It is not a gaming oriented phone but you can play most games at decent frame rates. One noteworthy thing is the Finney starts up way faster than most Android devices.
The camera may not have multiple lenses at the back but it does the job pretty well. The daylight shots look sharp and colorful with enough details. Even in low light, picture quality is decent and amount of noise is controlled. Image quality is overall good but you cannot compare it with the likes of Pixel lineup or the Oneplus phones. The front camera is an average performer and takes washed out shots. The battery does charge up fast but it is not powerful enough to meet the needs of heavy users.
Price and warranty
The Sirin Labs Finney sells for a MSRP of $1,000. You can buy it from the brand website. It is sold with a 14 day money back policy. You can’t buy it from carriers even though it will run on most GSM networks. The company offers a 12-month international warranty for the device.
Should you buy the Finney?
It depends on what your priorities are! Apart from the security features and crypto currency centric features – there is very little in the device that can help it withstand the competition in the super premium Smartphone segment. The hardware is pretty good but rivals from Oneplus, Oppo and Samsung have models with beefier spec-more RAM and more powerful SoC. In imaging and battery too- it gets outshined by the segment rivals clearly. Even in terms of software, it is sold with a dated version of Android and there is no word on Android 10.
How does it fare as a blockchain phone? Well, it is both a hit and miss! The included hardware wallet with pop up secondary display looks like a cool feature and it works as promised. However, in reality, you may feel worried about durability of that display unit. Setting up the wallet and using its features will require plenty of time-even though the process is not complicated. However, the security features are pretty impressive.
Overall, it is hard to recommend the Finney to anyone apart from the serious crypt currency investors with deep pockets and expertise in the subject. HTC’s Exodus 1 is a solid offering too. For its price tag, the Finney may seem overpriced-more so for those who are just curious about blockchain and crypto sector. You can very well buy a flagship android device from stables of Oneplus or Oppo and buy a crypto hardware wallet separately. Even then, you will end up spending much less than what you pay for the Finney. This is a device revealed ahead of its time but that also does not make a compelling reason to buy it.