While most people seem fairly comfortable with the idea of using their smartphone as a payment device — just ask any ApplePay user — cryptocurrency users are something of a special case. It may be a pain if a hacker steals your credit card information, but in most cases the stolen funds can be returned after some hassle with your bank. If a hacker breaks into your phone and steals your private cryptocurrency keys, however, those BTC, ETH, or other tokens are gone for good.
But what if there was a way to combine the security of a hardware wallet with a standard smartphone? What if it was possible to give all the data on your smartphone the same level of security as your private crypto keys? What if you could use your phone to access decentralized apps (DApps), preventing your personal data from ever being stored on a third-party server? That’s the idea behind “blockchain smartphones,” and it’s a technology that many smartphone companies are currently developing for the consumer market.
In this post, we’re taking a look at five new blockchain smartphones, both real and rumored.
1. Samsung’s Galaxy S10: Unlike the other entries on this list, Samsung isn’t really playing up the blockchain-ready features of their Galaxy S10 line. The phone’s “blockchain keystore” feature — essentially an encrypted hardware wallet with DApp support — isn’t even mentioned on the S10’s product page. It’s likely that Samsung doesn’t see a built-in cryptocurrency wallet as a major selling point for most consumers, particularly in the North American market. The blockchain-ready hardware appears to be included in the entire S10 line, suggesting that Samsung views blockchain and cryptocurrency support as a standard feature.
Availability: The Galaxy S10 line is currently available internationally, although the blockchain keystore feature is limited to developers.
2. Huobi’s Acute Angle: From almost any perspective, Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Huobi is taking a huge risk with their Acute Angle blockchain smartphone. Not only are they taking a big swing on the hardware side — 8 core CPU, dedicated GPU, 6GB RAM, 128GB internal memory, physically isolated hardware wallet — but they’re also aiming for a $515 price point. In an already intensely competitive smartphone market, does a company with almost no brand recognition even have a chance at success? Maybe. Huobi certainly seems to believe that there is a real demand for an affordable smartphone with a built-in hardware wallet and DApp support in the Southeast Asian market.
Availability: The Huobi Acute Angle is currently available in select Asian markets. The company plans to release an updated version to Europe and North America in 2020.
3. Pundi X’s BOB: True to Pundi X’s decidedly open-source vision, their “Blok on Blok” (BOB) smartphone is designed as a modular, customizable, fully decentralized piece of blockchain-ready hardware. All of the phones services are built around the open-source f(x) OS, although users have the option to switch to Android OS at any time. At $599, it’s also affordably priced. Then again, Pundi X has yet to release any technical specifications about their BOB phone, suggesting that the hardware driving the design could be fairly anemic.
Availability: The 5,000 unit “prototype” run of BOB smartphones is slated for release in Q4 2019.
4. LG’s Blockchain Phone: South Korea-based smartphone maker LG Electronics doesn’t exactly have a reputation for cutting-edge innovation. LG is often seen as being a step behind their rivals in terms of technology, allowing others to take the big risks first. When Samsung quietly revealed that their Galaxy S10 line would include blockchain and cryptocurrency support in late 2018, LG reportedly began looking into creating their own version of the concept. While LG has yet to confirm the rumors, multiple South Korean tech blogs report that the company has a blockchain-ready phone in the works. It’s also possible that LG may be adding the functionality to their G8 ThinQ line, much like Samsung did with their S10s.
Availability: No details have been made public, but the phone is rumored for release in Q4 2019.
5. HTC’s Blockchain Phone: In late 2018, HTC released the Exodus, one of the first blockchain smartphones to hit the market. While the Exodus was praised for its overall build quality, it received mixed reviews as a hardware wallet/smartphone hybrid. Wired described it as “a device with a little growing up to do,” noting that the software experience was something of a work in progress. While nothing has been confirmed by HTC, rumors persist that the company is working on a refined version of the Exodus for wider consumer release.
Availability: No details have been made public.