HTC has announced the second model in their crypto-enabled Exodus smartphone range, the Exodus 1s, and for Bitcoin fans the launch came with a pleasing twist – alongside the secure crypto wallet comes the ability for the phone to act as a full Bitcoin node, allowing users to help run the Bitcoin blockchain from the device. The surprise addition allows users to have, in the words of one Twitter user, not just a Swiss bank account in their pocket, but an entire Swiss bank. Alongside BTC, the phone will also store LTC, ETH, and “other popular ERC-20 tokens and ERC-721” in its secure vault.
— HTC EXODUS (@htcexodus) October 19, 2019
Security to a TEE
HTC announced the launch of the handset, which follows 2018’s Exodus flagship model, on Saturday, with a very reasonable price tag of €219 ($244), over $400 cheaper than the Exodus 1 at launch. The new phone continues the use of Zion, a crypto wallet housed within the phone’s Trusted Execution Environment (TEE), to store the user’s cryptocurrency, dApps, and collectibles, as well as conduct token exchanges thanks to support from Kyber. The TEE is isolated from the rest of the device, meaning that it runs, in the words of HTC, “free from malware”, making remote hacking theoretically impossible. This protected area will also house the wallet’s private keys and the 21-word recovery phrase, while all transactions will take place within it. Zion also includes ‘social key recovery’, where the recovery phrase is broken, encrypted, and shared between “trusted contacts” to help recover the phone if it is lost.
Node Worth It?
The ability to run a Bitcoin wallet in tandem with a full Bitcoin node has some advantages, most notably from the security side. Third-party crypto wallet and payment apps are popular and plentiful, but they all rely on some information being stored by the third party. Running a Bitcoin node allows for true decentralization, which may be important to some users but not the majority, even among Bitcoin enthusiasts. Then there are the limitations – the entire Bitcoin blockchain takes up approximately 400GB drive space, meaning that would-be node operators will have to purchase an SD card big enough to hold the blockchain, which is expanding by approximately 60GB per year. Then there is the data cost. The user will have to download the entire Bitcoin blockchain over the internet first which, depending on the user’s internet speed, would take hours or even days. And once it has been downloaded it will need to be constantly updated, taking up further data use. Whether the data and storage costs are worth the hassle is something that only individual users will be able to calculate, but as a crypto wallet the device is certainly worth looking at for its security and functionality.