How to Keep Cryptocurrency: Top 3 Crypto Hardware Wallets
There is no need to dispute that the safest way to store cryptocurrencies is in a hardware wallet. “If you do not own your private keys, you do not own your crypto,” often say crypto currency experts, which is quite accurate. After all, those who keep their cryptocurrencies in exchanges do not own the private keys of the crypto they keep there, because the exchanges do. We could discuss what happened to the funds of exchanges that got hacked, such as Mt.Gox, Coinrail, Bithumb, and Bitfinex, just to name a few. Instead, we will talk about hardware wallets, which are meant to store users’ private keys in a secure hardware device, allowing them to spend the cryptocurrency they own.
The first hardware wallet ever created was the Trezor. Its first prototype appeared back in 2012, and it was not until 2014 that Trezor’s creators started mass production and shipping all over the globe. Back then it was the only option. Needless to say, Trezor had a hefty price tag of over $200, which made some of its early adopters think twice. Today, there are many different hardware wallets available for purchase. We will list top hardware wallets in different price categories – premium, mid, and entry level- and discuss why you may want to use one over the other.
Trezor Model T ($168)
+ The Trezor
Model T is from the original Bitcoin hardware wallet company, SatoshiLabs – the
company with the longest experience with this type of technology.
+ It can be used as a two-factor authentication (2FA) device.
+ Trezor’s Password Manager is one of its most appealing features, as it adds a further layer of security to your information security by enabling the use of highly complex passwords and eliminating the need to record or memorize them.
+ It easily trades within the built-in exchange.
+ Because all its code is open source, it has been audited and battle-tested quite thoroughly.
+ The Trezor Model T supports MicroSD card, enabling in-device data and file encryption in the near future.
+ The device has a large, easy-to-read 240×240 px RGB LCD display, clear colors and touch capability.
+ The Trezor Model T has an excellent – 5-star – customer support.
— The Trezor Model T is pricey. But it is worth it, considering all the features it has, and the security it will bring.
— Having to depend on the touchscreen can be tough. It would have been nice to also have buttons like the previous model.
— It is usually slower than Ledger to add support of coins, but once added it is worth the wait because of the user experience (UX).
— The Trezor Model T was not made for mobile, so can only be used on one’s laptop or PC.
— It is not fireproof, waterproof, or EMP proof. So you may need to get a backup tool for your private keys, such as Cryptotag, or Cryptosteel.
CoolWallet S ($99)
The CoolWallet S is by far the most practical hardware wallet you can get. Simply put, it is a great choice for everyday use. For those who often travel abroad, especially to countries where customs officers may harass visitors, we recommend to use this HW, since it is considered to be the most discreet.
+ The CoolWallet S is credit card sized and durable. It fits in any wallet and is easy to carry and hide between credit cards.
+ The CoolWallet
S is waterproof, bendable, and can handle cold and hot temperatures.
+ It is easy to use, as the card effortlessly connects to the wallet app through Bluetooth.
+ This is mobile native HW, which means that absolutely no laptop or PC is needed for setup or use.
+ Users can easily trade within the built-in exchange.
+ Users can take advantage of 2+1 Factor Authentication for crypto transactions.
+ The CoolWallet S offers Android and iOS support.
+ Out of the three wallets we are reviewing, it is the easiest to set up and use.
— One thing that most users dislike about the CoolWallet S is the quality of the e-paper display. It is challenging to make out some letters, such as k, q, v, w, x, and z. Hopefully, future versions of the gadget will have better e-paper displays, similar to the most basic Kindle.
— The wallet only supports a few dozens of cryptocurrencies. Luckily, it supports the most common ones.
— The CoolWallet S is not open source, so its source code has not been audited by third parties.
— The company that produces the CoolWallet S is relatively new, so does not have an impressive track record.
Ledger Nano S ($67)
The Ledger Nano S is said to offer the best bang for the buck. It is the most popular hardware wallet out there and has been featured on Showtime’s Billions TV Show. Its creators can boast that they have raised more money than any other HW company in the world and so have plenty of cash to invest in high quality talent, R&D, and customer support. The French company’s profitability has been compared to a gold pick manufacturer. After all, when there’s a gold rush, the one selling the gold picks ends up with more money than people looking for gold.
+ The Ledger’s
price is reasonable. If you do not want to spend much on a HW, this one is for
+ It can be used as a two-factor authentication (2FA) device.
+ The Ledger is the HW with the most supported cryptocurrencies. It supports 1,185 assets, which is 114 more assets than supported by Trezor.
+ Native authentication ensures that the device has not been tampered with in any way.
+ Ledger is the first and only certified hardware wallet on the market. It has been independently certified by ANSSI.
+ The company raised a total of $88 million in several successful funding rounds.
— The Ledger’s
small memory limits the number of apps it has installed at any given time,
which is inconvenient, if one has more than 2 or 3 cryptocurrencies.
— Painful UX is a result of needing to grant access to the Ledger Live Manager on the Ledger in order to add or delete apps. Imagine having 2 Nano S’, and forgetting what crypto you have on each one?
— The Ledger Nano S is not made for mobile and can be only used on laptops or PCs.
— The Ledger is not open source. Specifications are fully open, and all cryptographic operations are deterministic, which allow any user to verify that everything is ok.
— It is very slow. Nano S takes at least 30 to 60 seconds when adding or deleting apps. Some transactions take a few minutes or longer.
Those with experience in crypto believe that one cannot go wrong with Model T or Nano S. Both are very safe. Both have 2FA, while the Trezor has Password Manager support. The only issue is that they are not as practical as we would want them to be. What if you do not own a laptop? What if your work computer does not allow you install applications? CoolWallet S is a great substitute for the Model T and the Nano S. However, because it supports only a few coins, its company is very new, and it has not been battle-tested yet (it has not yet made a hack bounty), many in the industry will think twice before committing to it.
Ledger released the Nano X, which fixes everything that the Nano S lacks, and adds native usability through mobile devices. It was supposed to ship late March 2019, but according to Ledger they encountered production issues, and now it is uncertain if it will finally ship in the first half of 2019. Until then, the best options for a hardware wallet are the Model T, Nano S, or the CoolWallet S.
Whether you are new to crypto or are planning to enter the crypto space, please make sure that before you get any crypto, you buy a hardware wallet, play and get comfortable with it, and keep most of your crypto in it. Safety first: if your crypto is compromised, no one can bring it back.