On the Solarin Android phone, your data is protected by an unprecedented 256-bit AES encryption. On the Solarin Android phone, your data is protected by an unprecedented 256-bit AES encryption. On the Solarin Android phone, your data is protected by an unprecedented 256-bit AES encryption. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

Why did someone just invent a $14,000 smartphone?

Leonardo DiCaprio and other celebs attended a launch event for the new 'unhackable' device.

For those of us who wonder if we should shell out several hundred dollars every time a pristine new iPhone model arrives at the Apple Store, we should really put our plight into a broader context. Because somebody just unveiled a $14,000 smartphone. And that's just for the basic model.

Sirin Labs, a technology company based in Israel, is behind the new Solarin Android that has smartphone insiders all excited. The device was unveiled earlier this week at a press event in London. Actors Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio (who both starred in “The Revenant”) were among those present at the launch event where DJs Becky Tong and Amber Le Bon rocked the after-party.

So what makes this phone different than the one currently stuffed into your jeans pocket? This one claims to be virtually unhackable. The Solarin boasts some of today's most advanced privacy tools, and marks the first time this technology is available to a mass market. There's also a special security switch on the back of the handset. When it's flipped, the phone enters a shielded mode, allowing for fully encrypted calls and messages. The phone currently comes in a number of varieties, including Fire Black Carbon Leather with Yellow Gold.


Company co-founder and CEO Tal Cohen, an alumnus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told CNN about their target audience. "Our core consumers are international business travelers that spend much of their lives on the move," he said. "Their mobile phones are increasingly used for business-critical and confidential information gathering."

Sirin Labs President Moshe Hogeg, a serial Israeli entrepreneur, doesn't think the high price of the product will dissuade their customers. "We do not accept that price drives what’s available in technology. With Solarin, we break the rules," he said in a statement. The team said they have been working on development of the phone since the fall of 2013.

The company operates out of two offices – one in the Israeli metropolis of Tel Aviv, which is the second largest producer of startups after Silicon Valley; the other is in the Swedish town of Lund, which has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world. They named their company Sirin Labs after Sirin, the mythological creature synonymous with extreme rarity and speed. According to legend, Sirins were heard only by the virtuous, and foretold future happiness.

And in case you're wondering, no, this is not the most expensive cell phone ever. That record is held by a diamond encrusted iPhone 4 made by famous British designer Stuart Hughes. That handset was wrapped in more than 500 individual flawless cut diamonds, including 53 that plated the back of the phone and lit up the Apple logo. So how much was that one? $20,000? $50,000? $100,000? Keep guessing. $1 million? Higher. The phone had a price tag of $8 million. Only two of those devices are believed to actually be in existence.

Want to find out more cell phone trivia? Take our fun-fact-filled quiz about the history of cell phones.


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows
Why did someone just invent a $14,000 smartphone?
The Solarin Android produced by Israel-based Sirin Labs is a smartphone that its makers say cannot be hacked.