web3 smartphones: can smartphones bring the Web3 wave to as many people as possible?


For technology to leave its mark on humanity, it must be scalable and can reach most – if not all – of humanity. This has certainly been the case since the late 90s, when the internet took its first steps towards the mass adoption we see today.

Before people knew it, they were using cell phones to communicate with friends and family. Almost 10 years later, towards the end of the first decade of this century, smartphones have completely revolutionized the way we conceptualize and experience technology.

Everything has become mobile first, from banks to airline tickets, from stock brokerage to cinema. And today, as we move rapidly into another wave of Internet evolution – Web3 – many are eagerly awaiting that technology that would catapult that wave to the masses.

Until now, there have been many competitors – virtual digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), blockchain-based decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), decentralized applications (Dapps) and now smartphones.

However, one idea is fundamental to Web3 that sets it apart from the previous two waves of the Internet, and that is the endless focus on building things decentralized to allow more consumer autonomy.

To add to the ever-expanding Web3 space, blockchain platform Solana launched the world’s first saga of Web3 smartphones running Android last month. Many crypto enthusiasts – called its iPhone launch Web3 moment and hailed Web3 smartphones as the next big revolution in the crypto space.

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The smartphone space is dominated by Samsung, Apple, and BBK Electronics, among others, and it took them a while to rise to the top. It will be difficult for Web3 smartphones to enter such a highly contested market and gain a foothold, especially when the overall adoption of Web3 has been slow and most of its facets such as cryptocurrencies, NFTs and DAOs have been blocked by regulatory concerns around the world.

However, one thing we have learned in the first three decades of the Internet age is that new technologies open up new possibilities.

So what exactly are Web3 smartphones and how are they different from the ones we use today?

What is a Web3 smartphone?

Simply put, Web3 smartphones contain an inbuilt hardware crypto wallet. This wallet functions as an offline digital safe, protecting and encrypting users’ valuable private information such as passwords, photos, and cryptocurrency keys. These phones also contain dApps that run on public peer-to-peer networks instead of tech companies’ private servers.

Although they bet heavily on safety and security, the history of hacking and theft of funds from different blockchains needs to be addressed as a decentralized system is usually beyond the jurisdiction of regulators. This makes encryption extremely crucial to protect the flow of sensitive data from node to node.

How are they different from regular smartphones?

While Web3 smartphones look the same as their regular counterparts, the difference lies in the built-in hardware wallet present in these phones. Apart from storing users’ private information, wallets provide an additional layer of security for user data, as they are less susceptible to data breaches and hacks.

Major smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung and Huawei are making inroads into Web3 infrastructure. Recently, Samsung US announced the launch of its official Discord server to support its Web3 activities and NFT distribution. Reports also suggest that several Huawei departments are exploring Web3 with Harmony, Huawei Cloud and Huawei Pay.

The first Web3 smartphones

Saga: Launched by Solana for $1,000 (around Rs 79,000), the phone is powered by Google’s Android and will feature a decentralized app store, meaning no fees for users. It also has a seed vault to store private keys and a software development kit to help developers create dApps. It’s not yet available to the public, with a launch slated for early next year.

SagaETtech

HTC Desire 22: Slated to debut in India on September 30, 2022, it marks the debut of an existing smartphone player in the Web3 space. HTC’s phone will contain applications compatible with its Viverse metaverse platform. It will also allow users to trade cryptocurrencies and NFTs and connect with its VR headset.

htc desire 22 proETtech

Nothing Telephone (1): While not entirely a Web3 phone, Nothing – created by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei – has integrated Polygon’s blockchain technology to simplify user access to dApps, blockchain games and payments through the Polygon network.

Nothing Telephone (1)ETtech

What does the future look like?

Currently, people’s confidence in crypto is declining due to the ongoing crypto winter and the bankruptcy of giants like Three Arrows Capital, Voyager Digital, and Celsius Network.

But with over 3.5 billion people worldwide using smartphones and a number expected to grow massively, Web3 smartphones have a good chance of mass adoption. For dedicated Web3 smartphone makers, the key is to make the right choice – go solo and take on the giants or piggyback on them with partnerships.

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