HTC’s New Blockchain Smartphone Can Be Bought With Bitcoin
HTC, the struggling Taiwanese phone-maker, has launched a smartphone that can be bought only with BTC or ETH. Called the Exodus 1, the smartphone is blockchain-integrated and features a cryptocurrency wallet built into a secure enclave of the device.
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HTC Sells Its New Cryptocurrency Wallet-Enabled Phone for 0.15 BTC
Initially announced in May, the Exodus 1 phone was unveiled in Berlin, Germany on Oct. 22. The handset will retail for 0.15 BTC or 4.78 ETH in early access deals, which is equivalent to $960. First shipments are expected in December, the company said.
“Exodus 1 is a foundational element of the crypto internet,” Phil Chen, HTC’s ‘decentralized chief officer’, said in a statement on the company’s website. “For digital assets and decentralized apps to reach their potential, we believe mobile will need to be the main point of distribution.”
Built into the Exodus 1 is a cryptocurrency wallet called Zion, which was developed by HTC to serve as a hardware virtual currency wallet. Chen said the wallet runs from a secure enclave on the phone’s chip, separate from the Android operating system, to safeguard digital coins. He underscored the importance of keeping this area of the phone separated from Android because Google’s operating system was “fundamentally insecure with a centralized system,” exposing users’ funds to theft by attackers.
“Think of [the enclave] as a micro OS that runs in parallel with Android,” CNBC quoted Chen as saying. “It basically is a wallet, but the wallet, what it does is hold your private keys.” Chen added: “The reason why you do a blockchain phone is … for everybody just to own their own keys. Everything starts there. When you start owning your own keys, then you can start owning your own digital identity, then you can start to own data.”
Cryptocurrency-Only Pricing to Bring Device to Its Core Audience
HTC’s new phone will run decentralized applications (dapps). It also features a Social Key Recovery function that helps users “regain access to their funds if they lose their private key via a select number of trusted contacts.”
“Selling [the phone] 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,” Chen told the South China Morning Post. He added:
It reflects our belief in cryptocurrencies – in fact we had to recreate and overcome many processes internally, as well as find new distributors, so that we can achieve the goal of only accepting cryptocurrencies as the form of payment.
Exodus 1 will be available in 34 countries including Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom and other European countries. However, the phone will not be available in China, which has taken a strict approach to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
More Companies Looking to Enter Blockchain Smartphone Market
HTC, which at one time was among the top manufacturers of smartphones in the world, is not the only company to try and offer a blockchain-focused phone.
Switzerland-based start-up Sirin Labs is currently accepting orders for its $999 smartphone, whose shipping has been delayed from October. Chinese information communication technologies firms such as Lenovo Group and Sichuan Changhong Electric have previously announced plans for a blockchain phone, but provided no details.
Earlier this month, Indonesia-based startup Pundi X unveiled its blockchain-powered handset called Xphone which, unlike HTC and Sirin Labs’ devices, can operate on its own blockchain-based transmission protocol, independently of mobile carriers.
Aside from running dapps, Exodus 1 also comes with numerous features found on regular flagship smartphones such as dual rear cameras and a six-inch Quad HD+ display.