Sirin's Solarin Smartphone Boasts High Security, $14K Starting Price

The Solarin smartphone from Sirin Labs includes military-grade data protection technologies, luxury design and materials, and premium features.

Sirin Labs, Solarin smartphone, smartphones, security, privacy, high-security smartphones, Blackphone 2

Sirin Labs has taken the wraps off its first smartphone, the luxury, high-security Sirin Solarin handset, which starts at $13,800 each.

The company—which first announced the handset through a teaser splash page on its Website back in April (though there were no accompanying specifications or details)—officially launched the handset May 31. The announcement touted the smartphone's military-grade data protection and privacy features, as well as its spare-no-expense quality construction and components.

According to Sirin, those attributes will make the Solarin smartphone worth $14,000 or more to a buyer. The handset's ultra-high-security features come from Zimperium Inc.'s zIPS mobile intrusion prevention system, which is built into the handset. The zIPS system thwarts a broad array of advanced device, network and application mobile cyber-attacks, without impairing usability or functionality of the handset, according to Sirin.

Also included are advanced privacy protections and features that are currently available only to international security agencies, the company said. To create the Solarin's privacy protections, Sirin Labs partnered with KoolSpan to integrate chip-to-chip 256-bit AES encryption, which military agencies around the world use to protect their communications, according to Sirin. "Activated by the unique Security Switch on the back of the handset, the phone enters a shielded mode, presenting an exclusive suite for fully encrypted calls and messages."

Underneath all of that security, the Solarin features a 5.5-inch In-Plane Switching (IPS) LED 2K resolution curved touch-screen display with a Corning Gorilla Glass 4 cover, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 2GHz octa-core processor, 4GB of low-power double data rate (LPDDR) memory, 128GB of on-board storage, a 23.8-megapixel main rear-facing camera with laser autofocus and four-tone flash, a front-facing camera with flash, a chassis made from metal composites that include titanium, and a technical leather back panel.

The phone reportedly runs on an older Android 5.1.1 operating system, rather than on Android 6 Marshmallow. It also uses the older Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, rather than the much faster Snapdragon 820 processor.

The Solarin also includes a USB Type-C port, a 4,000mAh battery, a quick-charging feature, a high-performance X10 LTE modem for calls, 24-band LTE compatibility, and 802.11ac 2x2 MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) WiFi and WiGig 802.11ad multi-gigabit WiFi capabilities.

Also included is an audio system with three bass-boosted speakers that are linked through a smart amplifier for quality sound.

"We do not accept that price drives what's available in technology," Moshe Hogeg, president and co-founder of Sirin Labs, said in a statement. "With Solarin, we break the rules."

Tal Cohen, CEO and co-founder of the company, said in a statement that the constant barrage of global cyber-attacks provided the inspiration for the company's new handset. "This trend is on the increase," he said. "Just one attack can severely harm reputations and finances. Solarin is pioneering new, uncompromising privacy measures to provide customers with greater confidence and the reassurance necessary to handle business-critical information."

The Solarin handset was designed by world-renowned industrial designer Karim Rashid, according to the company.

The handsets are available immediately in the company's London store or from its Website. They will be available through the Harrods store in Knightsbridge starting June 30.

The Solarin Fire Black Carbon Titanium model is $13,800, while the Solarin Fire Black Carbon DLC model is $14,900. The Fire Black Carbon Yellow Gold model is $17,400, while the Solarin Crystal White Carbon DLC model is $15,900.

Sirin Labs is backed by about $72 million in investment, according to its Website. The Solarin smartphone is the result of two-and-a-half years of research and development after it was inspired in 2013 when the mobile phone of Kenges Rakishev, another co-founder and the chairman of the board of the company, was hacked, inspiring him to pursue more secure alternatives. Rakishev contacted Hogeg, an Israeli technology venture capitalist, about his idea, and then later connected with Cohen, bringing the three together to create Sirin and the idea for the high-style and secure Solarin.

Other high-security and luxury smartphones have been on the market in recent years, including the $799 Blackphone 2 privacy-centric handset, unveiled in September 2015. The Blackphone 2, sold by Silent Circle, runs on its own Enterprise Privacy Platform (EPP), a cloud-based combination of software, services and devices that enable a deeper level of privacy than other devices, according to an earlier eWEEK story. It includes full device encryption by default using Silent Circle's Silent OS operating system and Android technologies.

Luxury smartphone makers in recent years include several fancy, over-the-top lifestyle phones that have been sold by a small number of luxury goods makers who build their phones with adornments, such as ostrich skin coverings, titanium bodies, and diamond- or emerald-encrusted cases. The luxury phones, which have ranged in price from about $6,900 to more than $250,000, come from makers such as England's Vertu and Switzerland's Savelli.