The Solana Saga, the smartphone created by former Essential employees, went up for pre-order last year for a deposit of $100 toward the full $1,000 price tag.

Now customers who paid that deposit can actually buy the phone, and folks who didn’t get in on the early action can join a waitlist…  if that’s something you actually want to do. Because while the phone has an interesting pedigree, it’s also a niche device aimed at cryptocurrency enthusiasts. In fact, you need to use cryptocurrency to buy it.

For those who aren’t familiar, the Saga began taking shape as the OSOM OV1. Originally the plan was to deliver a device that was a spiritual successor to the Essential PH-1. The privacy-focused OV1 was teased with a stainless steel frame, titanium buttons and a zirconia ceramic back last March.

Fast forward to June and OSOM announced that its plans had changed. The Saga would now be developed in partnership with Solana, the company behind the SOL cryptocurrency, and blockchain and web3 would be central to its design. A quick visit to Solana’s hardware page makes it abundantly clear that the Solana ecosystem is the main selling point.

That said, the Saga is a good-looking phone built around some pretty solid hardware. It starts with Qualcomm’s powerful Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 platform, 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and a generous 512GB of storage. The 120Hz 1080p AMOLED display measures 6.67 inches and is covered with a layer of ultra-tough Gorilla Glass Victus. The back of the Saga is clad with a zirconia ceramic and its stainless steel frame is accented by flashy titanium buttons.

Situated on the back of the phone are a pair of Sony Cameras: an f/1.8 wide angle with a 50MP sensor and an f/2.2 ultra-wide with a 12MP sensor. Decrypt’s Andrew Hayward notes that the shots they produce are decent, though not on par with the similarly-priced iPhone 14 Pro Max. There’s also a 16MP front-facing camera.

The Saga is powered by a 4110 mAh battery which can be recharged via USB-C or a Qi-compatible wireless charger. Solana also includes a charging cable with a data privacy switch so that you can (if you absolutely have to) utilize an unfamiliar charger without putting your Saga at risk.

Interestingly, the developers confirmed in an AMA that all the Solana experience is optional and can be disabled. Do that, and you’re left with a device that would feel a lot like a sequel to the PH-1… though purchasing a different phone might make more sense, especially for $1,000.

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