Cryptocurerncy mining keeps evolving over time and just like mainstream computing it is getting mobile! Just about a year and a half back, Taiwanese tech giant HTC unveiled the first blockchain phone ever, namely the Exodus. While the HTC Exodus did not exactly set the cash registers ringing for the company with diminishing market share in Smartphone sector, it did make the cryptocurrency experts take note. Soon, a handful of manufacturers hopped on the bandwagon and more blockchain phones hit the market. To woo the crypto enthusiasts away from rivals, HTC is upping the ante and recently the company unleashed a trimmed down version of the Exodus, named Exodus 1S.
What’s so different about the Exodus 1s?
It may seem a tad odd that HTC chose to unveil another blockchain Smartphone when the original Exodus did not exactly prove to be a resounding success! However, on closer analysis, it becomes clear that with Exodus 1s, HTC is trying to woo a different section of crypto sector users. The company is betting big on blockchain to revive its plummeting share in the fiercely competitive Smartphone sector. In fact, in the recent months it released no other Smartphone than the successor to Exodus 1. The company also resorted to a major layoff to cut down costs.
HTC’s decentralized chief officer Phil Chen sounds pretty upbeat about the Exodus 1s. He said the device has different target buyers than the first Exodus device. The latter, according to him has received good response. The Exodus 1s will ship in Europe, the Middle East and then in different markets.
The Exodus 1s is priced at $244 USD and that is nearly a third of the price of the original Exodus. It is not a high end smartphone and comes with entry level spec. HTC has downgraded specs all around to keep the price of Exodus 1s lower. In fact, almost all present generation Smartphones sport better spec than this one. With a now dated Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 Soc and 4 GB RAM, it is not going to blow your mind away with overall performance. The 5.7-inch HD display is also less than remarkable and a single 13 MP lens is there at the back, in an era when the entry level Smartphones come with dual and triple camera setups! It has been shipped with the older Android Oreo OS as well.
Why consider a crypto Smartphone with average spec?
After checking the specs of the HTC Exodus 1s, some would like to dismiss it downright as an option. However, what the device lacks in raw power- it makes up in number of features.
On finer analysis, it becomes quite clear that the Exodus 1s is a tad different than other existing crypto smartphones. HTC just did not make a device with some crypto cosmetic layer. On the contrary, the Exodus 1s is absolutely crypto focused. In one way, it even topples its pricier sibling- the Exodus. A built in crypto hardware wallet is tempting and on top of that the Exodus 1s can work as a functional full Bitcoin node.
The killer crypto centric features of the Exodus 1s
- Zion wallet- To trade with bitcoin or other forms of crypto currency, you have to get a crypto wallet. This can be a paper, desktop or mobile wallet. The Exodus 1s comes with embedded Zion hardware wallet. Setting up the wallet is actually not hard -even for the beginners. A 6 digit pin can be set or alphanumeric phrase, and you will get a recovery phrase with 12 words. Ie is advisable to write down this recovery phase as losing it can land you in trouble.
Once set up, Zion can be used just like other hardware crypto wallets. Zion is not just any pre installed app but it is actually a hardware piece! It is isolated from rest of the phone hardware and that means any malware sneaking in the device OS, will not be able to access Zion. Based on ARM’s much touted TrustZone tech, it is really tough to crack. Zion in fact is more like a cold wallet, much like the devices made by Trezor and Ledger. The only difference is it is inside your smartphone. This can be both an advantage and drawback.
To address the woes of people worried about device theft or loss, HTC offers social key recovery. It does add a layer of additional security. Overall, Zion is an interesting addition to Exodus 1s.
- Node runner- The 2nd striking feature in the Exodus 1s is the Node runner. It is the device which can host a total Bitcoin node. HTC stressed on this feature before unveiling the device officially. So, you will be able to validate and verify the Bitcoin transactions from the device directly.
However, in reality this is not as simple as it sounds! It requires additional investment and you cannot exactly use it on them move. The Bitcoin ledger is pretty big and so you have to buy a 400 GB microSD card, to begin with. The Exodus 1s has to be plugged in and linked to a stable wifi network to activate and run the bitcoin node. This makes it near redundant as a mobile device. Seasoned bitcoin users would rather prefer running a full node on a desktop, properly set up!
- Dapps- The supported Dapps for the Exodus 1s is limited, as of now. The advantage of using dapps is these are autonomous, resilient and way secure than the typical smartphone apps. They have a peer-to-peer nature, and data privacy is top notch.
What else do you get?
The crypto centric features aside, there is hardly anything to be excited about the Exodus 1s. For the same price, you can get more powerful and better looking phones from brands like Motorola, Samsung and Oppo. Apart from the average hardware inside, the Exodus 1s’s plastic build does not inspire confidence and it feels creaky. It struggles while running latest gen games like Asphalt 9: Legends and the camera performance too leaves much to be desired. Day to day performance is not exactly bad but this one is sure to disappoint the power users. Even the 3074 mAh battery feels much less powerful when most segment rivals ship with 4000-5000 mAh batteries.
Should you consider the HTC Exodus 1s?
It is actually difficult to recommend the Exodus 1s to serious crypto currency investor and users. HTC did take a bold step to make a mark in the still growing blockchain phone segment and the device has its merits. The inclusion of a functional hardware wallet in a phone is commendable and the Bitcoin node runner functionality is one of its kind and first in the industry. The price tag of the device is also alluring and it is way cheaper than the majority of blockchain phones in the market.
However, in real life scenario the device loses its sheen fast. It can be used to run a full bitcoin node in theory but that involves additional investment and compromise of the mobile aspect. The inbuilt hardware wallet is both alluring and convenient but losing the phone means losing the wallet-even though there are recovery options. As a general android smartphone, the Exodus 1s gets beaten hands down in almost every segment by several similar or lower priced rivals. From gaming, imaging to display- it performs average. It’s dated OS and cheap build quality also works against it. Serious crypto users looking for a worthy blockchain phone would do better to pick the predecessor, aka HTC Exodus 1, despite its steeper price tag. If you want a full functional hardware wallet- there are cheaper and better options out there! The Exodus 1s is and will remain more of a concept revealed ahead of its time!