Hardware wallets are one of the most popular and secure ways to store cryptocurrencies. However, not all hardware wallets are built equal. There are popular options like Trezor and the Ledger Nano S – but which hardware wallet is the best choice for you? Keep reading to discover the best hardware wallets in the crypto industry today.
All of the wallets below are physical devices. Some describe them as “smart cards”. Basically, they’re a secure piece of electronic hardware – similar to a USB stick, but with more advanced features built-in.
The advantages of a hardware wallet include convenience, security, and the ability to store multiple cryptocurrencies. The most popular hardware wallets, for example, support storing bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and many other large-market-cap cryptocurrencies.
These hardware wallets have other things in common. Many have a basic display that lets you confirm or deny a transaction. You plug the device into your computer or smartphone. Then, to verify a transaction, you tap a button on the display after viewing the requested amount on that display. Some devices have touchscreens and advanced displays. Others have displays that look like a calculator from the 1980s.
One final thing these wallets have in common is a PIN, a password, or a passphrase. Many of these wallets allow you to setup a BIP39-encrypted passphrase. That consists of a series of 12 or 24 four letter words you can use to regain access to your cryptocurrencies at any time – say, if your hardware wallets gets lost or stolen. Meanwhile, the PIN lets you gain access to the wallet – like when you’re loading funds or verifying a transaction.
The Best Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallets
Ledger Nano S
The Ledger Nano S is one of the most popular cryptocurrency hardware wallets available today. Made by a Paris, France-based company, the Ledger Nano S lets you store bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum Classic, Dogecoin, ZCash, Ripple, and about a dozen other cryptocurrencies.
The Nano S is compatible with Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Chrome OS. As long as you have one USB port to plug your Ledger Nano S into, you’ll be able to access your Ledger funds on your device.
The device itself is made from brushed stainless steel, making it one of the most stylish cryptocurrency hardware wallets on the market today. At the same time, the wallet is relatively nondescript: you could store $1 million on your Ledger Nano S and the average person wouldn’t be able to distinguish the Nano S from a USB stick.
The Nano S is priced at around $100, although Ledger has a cheaper and more expensive option available as well.
Trezor is another popular hardware wallet. It’s made by the same Prague, Czech Republic-based team, Satoshi Labs, that developed Slush Pool, the world’s first bitcoin mining tool, and Coinmap, a worldwide directory of bitcoin merchants. That company saw a demand for hardware wallets like Trezor. The word “Trezor” means “vault” in Czech.
Trezor has a basic display on top and buttons below it. The device itself, however, is purposely nondescript. It’s even less noticeable than the Ledger Nano S. It looks like a USB thumb drive.
The face of Trezor has a button that you’ll need to click to sync your cryptocurrency funds with your PC. Trezor also has you enter a code that has to match with your PC – similar to how a CAPTCHA works.
When setting up Trezor for the first time, you’ll be asked to create a PIN code. A passphrase will also help you regain access to your wallet in case your device gets lost or breaks.
Like the Ledger Nano S, Trezor supports a wide variety of cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Dash, ZCash, Dogecoin, and others.
Trezor and the Ledger Nano S are the two most popular hardware wallets available today. KeepKey, however, is a new challenger that’s been gathering market share.
KeepKey, like the other two options on this list, is priced at around $100. The main difference with KeepKey is that it’s catered to the intermediate or advanced cryptocurrency crowd – although the UI remains easy for anyone to access.
KeepKey was first introduced in 2015. The device features a full metal body with a large display. When you setup your KeepKey wallet for the first time, you’ll create a PIN and generate a passphrase – just like you do with Trezor and the Ledger Nano S. KeepKey, however, lets you customize your passphrase for added security. In addition to the basic 12 word option, for example, you can also setup a 10, 18 or 24 word passphrase.
KeepKey supports all major cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Litecoin, Dash, and Namecoin, among others.
The three hardware wallets listed above have a commanding share of the market. Trezor, Ledger, and KeepKey are the three best-known names in the industry – and it’s not particularly close.
However, a growing number of hardware wallet manufacturers are attempting to challenge the throne.
Bitbox, formerly known as Digital Bitbox, is one such hardware wallet. It’s been labeled as a “minimalistic” bitcoin wallet because of the shape and size of it. At first glance, Bitbox could easily be mistaken for a microSD drive. You’d never know it can hold a fortune in cryptocurrencies. There isn’t even a display on the front – which some people appreciate, but others might dislike. The small form factor also makes Bitbox easier to lose than most other wallets on this list.
One of the unique selling features of the Bitbox is the fact that it comes with microSD card support for offline backup and recovery. The Bitbox software works with desktop operating systems, iOS, and Android.
Despite the small size and nondescript appearance, Bitbox comes with an advanced set of features. There’s two factor authentication (2FA), for example, along with multi-signature support, Tor support, and U2F, among others.
Bitbox has another advantage: it’s priced lower than the three options listed above. You can buy Bitbox from the Swiss-based manufacturer for 59 EUR (although international shipping can be as high as 19 EUR).
The other wallets on this list function like smart cards or thumb drives. OpenDime, however, works in a much different way: it functions like real, physical money. You can hand your OpenDime to someone in the streets and that person can know that you’re handing them $1,000 – or whatever amount of cryptocurrency you have.
OpenDime’s stick comes with a private key. That private key provides access to your cryptocurrency funds, although the private key can’t be revealed until the stick is broken. To verify that the stick is unbroken, OpenDime comes with a seal that needs to be snapped open. Once the seal has been snapped, the user can access the private key via a text document (private key.txt). The private key lets them spend and transfert he cryptocurrencies wherever they like.
Another nifty feature with OpenDime is that you can check the balance at any time without breaking the seal. You can plug OpenDime into a computer to view the balance – but to spend that balance, you’ll need to unseal.
Ultimately, OpenDime bends the definition of a hardware wallet – but it’s worth mentioning on this list if you’re looking for a unique way to store your cryptocurrencies.
There are more cryptocurrency hardware wallets available today than ever before. Trezor, Ledger, and KeepKey are three of the most popular options, but we’re seeing new products appear online regularly. Choose one of the hardware wallets listed above to securely store your cryptocurrencies on a reliable, physical device.