Ever since the first ever “blockchain smartphone” from Sirin Labs released in 2018, major companies like Samsung and HTC have invested in their own blockchain smartphones. But what exactly is a blockchain smartphone? How does it compare to regular smartphones? And do we really need a blockchain smartphone?
There are currently 4 major blockchain smartphone manufacturers: Sirin Labs, HTC, Samsung, and PundiX.
Sirin Labs: Finney
The Finney was the first-ever concept of a blockchain smartphone. The phone offers a secure mobile environment for digital assets, called Sirin OS which is based on Android. The software provides a few benefits: integrated cold storage wallet, secure exchange access, encrypted communications, P2P resource sharing (eg data, connectivity), and computational power.
After months of expectation and one of the top-five biggest ICOs of 2017, Sirin Labs officially launched Finney in November 2018.
HTC: Exodus 1
The HTC smartphone uses ARM chips to provide a secure environment for blockchain transactions and wallets that is encrypted and separate from the main Android OS. With the integration of HTC’s Zion wallet, the phone is configured to store currencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum.
In essence, using the phone’s built-in wallets to store cryptocurrencies is more secure than storing a wallet on regular phones using an Android app. The HTC Exodus 1 was officially launched in October 2018.
Samsung: Galaxy S10
Samsung is one of the first major smartphone makers to include a cryptocurrency wallet in its latest flagship Galaxy S10 phones. The phone has a built-in cold storage wallet, allowing users to store bitcoin, Ethereum, and a beauty-related cryptocurrency called Cosmo Coin.
Samsung also announced support for the cryptocurrency called the Enjin Coin, an Ethereum-based digital currency for gamers that was founded in South Korea. It also said it would support contactless payments using cryptocurrency.
Pundi X: XPhone
The XPhone produced by Pundi X, a blockchain-based startup, allows users to switch from a blockchain OS to an Android OS using the “X” button.
The CEO of Pundi X, Zac Cheah, said that one of the most significant benefits of the blockchain phone is that it gives back power to the people. That is, users will have full control of their data.
Each XPhone functions as a blockchain node that contributes to the entire blockchain network. Pundi X launched a prototype in October 2018 and is expecting an official release later in 2019.
Blockchain vs. Regular Smartphones
If you look closely at the specifications of blockchain smartphones versus regular smartphones, you won’t be able to see much difference. With blockchain smartphones, you get all the major features that you’d expect from a typical smartphone:
- Powerful 12MP rear camera and selfie camera
- 6-inch touchscreen
- Industry standard 6GB of RAM and 128GB of maximum storage memory
This is important for mass adoption of blockchain smartphones. Especially for someone who may have been thinking about buying a separate hardware wallet and a flagship smartphone (like an iPhone XS or Samsung Galaxy S9). For this demographic, buying the Samsung S10 is a no-brainer.
Are Blockchain Smartphones Necessary?
If there are no functional differences between traditional and blockchain-powered smartphones, why would companies invest so much money into R&D for these new phones?
The decision for major companies like Samsung to roll out their own blockchain smartphones is to create a trusted eco-system where current and future crypto users/investors can buy and sell digital assets. Currently, the market is plagued with security breaches and cases of missing private keys, causing most existing and prospective investors to turn away from cryptocurrencies.
Within a year or two, we can expect most major phone manufacturers (Apple, Samsung, Google, etc.) to come out with their own version of a blockchain smartphone. Even if the company isn’t pro-blockchain, they will have to do so in order to remain competitive in this ever-changing business landscape.
This will be great for the cryptocurrency market as the entire ecosystem for buying, selling and investing in cryptocurrencies will become much safer and attractive.
“B2B reporter – Content Manager – Contributor – Fintech – Blockchain – Cryptocurrency”
Simon Chou is a B2B reporter and content manager specializing in technology and finance. He has worked with many clients in the fintech and blockchain space. He holds investment positions in bitcoin and other large-cap cryptocurrencies, and has been reporting on cryptocurrency since 2017. Currently, Simon is the content manager for a major cryptocurrency exchange @HybridBlockHQ.