HTC has opened up pre-orders for its newest phone the HTC EXODUS 1, a phone designed and marketed with the Crypto-Twitter set in mind. Appropriately, HTC is only accepting Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) for pre-orders at this time.
Pre-orders for the EXODUS 1 are currently listed for 0.15 BTC or 4.78 ETH which is equivalent to just over $950 USD and will ship by December. While not cheap, the phone is priced comparably to the latest smartphones and also comes with comparable specifications.
What Makes the HTC EXODUS 1 a ‘Blockchain’ Phone?
The primary feature of the EXODUS 1 is the integrated crypto wallet that allows for storing of Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. The phone utilizes a feature within the ARM-based processors called TrustZone to store the cryptocurrency keys.
TrustZone is a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) within the processor that’s quarantined from the rest of the Android operating system powering the phone. This provides an extra measure of security compared to standard app-based wallets but isn’t quite as secure as a pure cold-storage solution where the keys are never exposed to the internet.
Since the users’ cryptocurrency keys are stored on the phone, HTC also came up with a novel way of recovering the keys in case the phone is lost or stolen. Called ‘Social Key Recovery’, the EXODUS 1 will allow users to assign three to five friends who download an App which shares the recovery key to the wallet among them.
HTC also has loftier goals for the phone, hoping to court blockchain and crypto developers through the release of its APIs and by providing early access to the device.
The Niche Crypto Phone Market
Take a quick look at how HTC is marketing the EXODUS 1 and it’s clear this phone isn’t intended for the crypto luddite. The first blog post for the phone’s product page from HTC’s Decentralize Chief Officer, Phil Chen, includes your standard libertarian imagery and extols the virtues of restoring control over individuals’ identities, personal data, and digital assets.
Chen also took to CNBC as part of the pre-order announcement and made it clear that the EXODUS 1 is targeted directly at those already involved in crypto:
But HTC isn’t alone in trying to integrate crypto-related features (or blockchain if you prefer) directly into smartphone features. Other products coming to market include the Finney, from Swiss startup Sirin Labs and endorsed by soccer star Lionel Messi. There’s also the Sikur phone from Brazilian company Sikur with its built-in crypto wallet running a modified version of Android on Sony hardware.
Whether or not HTC can convince the crypto elite that they need a crypto specific phone or not remains to be seen, but certainly the company is looking to find more ways to differentiate themselves from the other smartphone manufacturers.