Most high-end smartphones aim to do basically the same things – offering tons of power, top-notch displays, and excellent cameras; combined with an elegant design. But the new Saga phone does things a little differently.
This handset is made by OSOM – a company made up of people who worked on Essential Phone – and was created for Solana Mobile, which is a cryptocurrency company. This creates an unusual pedigree and goes some way towards explaining this phone’s specs, which were recently revealed.
They include a state-of-the-art Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, a microSD card slot, a 6.67-inch FHD+ 120Hz OLED display, a 4,110mAh battery, a camera. 50 MP main camera, a 12 MP ultra-wide one and a 16 MP selfie snapper. The Saga also runs Android 13 and has an IP68 rating, which means it’s resistant to water and dust ingress.
Admittedly, there’s no shortage of power here and there’s plenty of storage, but the display is lower resolution than most flagship flagships (which tend to have QHD+ displays), the camera system is low on lenses, and the battery looks quite small. Unusually though, it has a microSD card slot, which is a rare sight these days in expensive handsets.
Then there’s the design – the Saga phone has a ceramic back, a stainless steel frame and titanium accents, which together with its IP68 rating make for a premium build, but the bezels above and below the display aren’t small. , leaving it looking its best.
If this were a mid-range phone it would be a bargain for some of the specs on offer, but it’s not – the Saga is $1,000 (about £880 / AU$1,590). That lines it up with the iPhone 14 Pro’s starting price – although in fairness you’ll pay a lot more than that for 512GB of storage with the Apple phone.
Still, this is a high-end phone with an unusual mix of specs, which on paper look a little lopsided. But Saga isn’t really aimed at mainstream audiences, as it also has all sorts of crypto credentials, with web3 resources aimed at “defi professionals, NFT collectors, and the most discerning crypto enthusiasts.”
So your target audience likely has different priorities than typical buyers of an iPhone 14 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus. Which isn’t to say they wouldn’t appreciate more cameras or a bigger battery, but they might consider that an acceptable compromise to get more specialized features at this price point.
If you fall into that camp – and you live in the US, UK, Canada or the EU – you can pre-order Saga now by making a $100 deposit, but the phone won’t ship until early 2023.
Analysis: A strange mix of old and new
The Saga’s microSD card slot and modest battery capacity make it feel like a phone from the past – while its encryption and chipset capabilities point more towards the future.
But there’s another old-fashioned feature here too – a rear fingerprint sensor. The vast majority of fingerprint sensors on high-end phones are now built into the screen, but the choice to place it on the back of the Saga phone was likely more than just a cost-cutting measure.
In-display fingerprint sensors are yet to be perfected – they are generally slower than more conventional sensors and can be prone to misreading. So a capacitive fingerprint sensor on the back might, in some ways, be better.
In addition, this sensor was thought as it supports custom gestures. So – much like a microSD card slot – it’s old-fashioned, but undoubtedly in a good way, and it’s something many of the best phones can learn from.