Taiwanese consumer electronics manufacturer High Tech Computer Corporation or HTC (TWSE: 2498), has released its own blockchain-focused smartphone Exodus 1.
HTC Exodus 1 smartphone is well-equipped with solid hardware:
– 6-inch QHD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio
– Android Oreo
– 6 GB of RAM
– Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor
– 128GB of storage
– 16-megapixel dual rear camera
– 8MP dual front camera with 4K video
– 3,500mAh battery
– IP68 waterproof rating
What makes Exodus 1 a ‘blockchain phone’?
Exodus 1 is termed as a ‘blockchain phone’ because it is blockchain-encrypted and dedicated to security and decentralized applications. It acts as a safe haven to store your private keys. A private key is a sophisticated form of cryptography that allows a user to access his/her cryptocurrency wallet.
The Exodus 1 comes with a secure enclave — a secluded area on the phone’s chip kept separate from the Android operating system (OS) it runs on — that uses technology made by SoftBank’s Arm Holdings to keep a customer’s cryptocurrency safe.
Highlighting the advantages of having a secure enclave disassociated from Android, Phil Chen, Decentralized Chief Officer of HTC, explained that Google’s OS is ‘fundamentally insecure with a centralized system.’ Therefore, storing cryptocurrency using Android would make users’ funds vulnerable to a hack.
“Think of it as a micro OS that runs in parallel with Android… It basically is a wallet, but the wallet, what it does is hold your private keys.”
The Taiwanese phone maker said that HTC has also developed its own cryptocurrency wallet called Zion to make its new phone function as a hardware cryptocurrency wallet.
Referring to cryptographic keys, Chen emphasized,
“The first step is to empower and educate the consumer to own their own keys… From there, that will help expand the blockchain ecosystem and lead to people owning their own data and digital property in the near future.”
Apart from a dedicated wallet, HTC Exodus 1 has a mechanism to track the phone when it goes missing or stolen. This, however, will require a secondary device with HTC’s key management application.
The smartphone will be available for 0.15 Bitcoin (BTC) or 4.78 Ethereum (ETH) ($960 approximately). The phone, however, can be purchased only through bitcoins or cryptocurrencies.
The phone is now available in 34 countries including the US, UK, Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, Norway, and various European countries.
Though the device won’t ship until early December, HTC is allowing users to preorder through the company’s official website.
HTC is not the only smartphone manufacturer to develop a blockchain-focused phone. Earlier this year, Switzerland-based Sirin Labs launched the world’s first commercial blockchain phone, Finney. Finney comes with a ‘cold-storage’ for crypto wallet and also allows peer-to-peer resource sharing.
Also, Singapore-based Pundi X recently launched a blockchain-based OS and communication protocol for mobile devices. The phone runs on Function X, an ecosystem built entirely on and for blockchain. The phone also features a D-app wallet that supports all kinds of cryptocurrencies.
Why a Blockchain-focused phone?
In an exclusive interview with CNBC, Chen said that the focus on blockchain was part of the firm’s shifting strategy regarding smartphones, which he said will prioritize software and intellectual property.
“We believe blockchain is the new paradigm for smartphones and it will form part of HTC’s wider smartphone strategy.”
“Selling it in crypto only and being the first to do so means we are bringing this directly to the core audience and those who will want this device — the blockchain community,” he said.
Emphasizing the importance of integrating blockchain technology with the smartphone, Chen said that it would help boost the security and privacy of users’ assets, and thereby safeguard customer’s data and identity.
Chen also mentioned that HTC is inviting third-party cryptographers and developers to share their feedback/reviews on Exodus 1.