HTC Exodus 1 Blockchain Phone: Price, Specs, Availability

In May, when HTC first announced its so-called blockchain smartphone, the Exodus 1, details were scarce. It was perhaps more like the fashionable poetry of a fridge magnet than an actual product. As of Tuesday, however, you can buy one – and of course, you can only do that using cryptocurrency.

While the device itself doesn’t ship until early December, you can finally pre-order here; it will cost you 0.15 Bitcoin or 4.78 Ethereum. At the time of writing, it’s just north of $ 950. For that, you get a smartphone with objectively solid hardware: the Exodus 1 comes with 6GB of RAM, a high-end Snapdragon 845 processor, and a 16-megapixel dual rear camera, all of flagship-grade specs.

HTC

But you didn’t come here for the specs! You came here for the blockchain, and what it means to pair it with a smartphone. HTC has a few ideas – and certainly said more about it than in May – but in truth, the company seems just as curious to find out as you are.

“The first step is to empower and educate the consumer to own their own keys,” says Phil Chen, decentralized CEO of HTC, referring to crypto keys that allow you to access your cryptocurrencies. “From there, it will help expand the blockchain ecosystem and bring people to own their own data and digital assets in the near future. “

Let’s dwell on this first step, especially since the long-term implications of decentralized digital identity and blockchain phones are, well, a lot longer term. Even the Exodus 1, Chen openly acknowledges, is indeed a beta device, albeit quite expensive. And at this early stage of the project, its main task is to help you keep track of your Bitcoin and Ethereum. In other words, it’s not for everyone.

We have already discussed these plans in detail, but it deserves a reminder, especially since some questions remain about its effectiveness. The first thing you need to know is that the HTC Exodus 1 is not a cold storage wallet, which keeps your digital ducats completely disconnected from the internet. (If that’s more your speed, try the Sirin Labs Finney blockchain phone, which would also ship this year.)

Instead, the Exodus 1 tries to find common ground between the drawbacks of cold storage and the added risks of centralized markets. Earlier this year, for example, hackers stole $ 532 million from Japan’s Coincheck exchange.

HTC instead offers the use of a quarantined section of ARM processors called TrustZone to store your cryptocurrency keys. Think of it as Android’s answer to Secure Enclave that protects Face ID and Touch ID biometric information on iPhone. This should make it more secure than, say, a software-based wallet, which would hypothetically be more vulnerable to broader attacks against the Android operating system, of which there are several.

“A private key protected by a special hardware architecture and operating system interface can be much more secure than a key stored by a wallet app downloaded from an app store,” says Vipul Goyal, IT specialist. at Carnegie Mellon University. “Another advantage could be the efficiency of the battery. . If common blockchain operations are natively supported by the hardware and operating system, they could consume less battery. For the same reason, these operations could also be much faster. “

It is not a perfect solution; TrustZone exploits exist, for example. But in the absence of perfect security, as Chen argued in a previous interview with WIRED, “it’s the best so far.”

Even if you trust TrustZone, a more pressing question for most people could be what happens if your phone is lost, stolen, or damaged beyond repair. For this possibility, HTC has developed what it calls “social key recovery,” where you choose three to five friends, ask them to download a special app, and let an algorithm distribute your recovery key among them. If you misplace your Exodus 1, you can ask them to retrieve your Voltron wallet, assuming you haven’t had a falling out, that they misplaced their own phone along the way, or that one of them either deceased, etc.


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