EXODUS 1 Blockchain Phone is Available from HTC and Won’t Exclusively Require Crypto as Payment
HTC, a Taiwan-based consumer electronics manufacturer, recently put out a smartphone with blockchain technology embedded in it. Since the smartphone came out, the product was only available to be purchased with the use of Bitcoin or Ether. However, the HTC EXODUS 1 is now available for purchase with the use of fiat currencies, like the U.S. dollar.
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, HTC announced the new availability for the product. They added that there is a broader range of cryptocurrencies that are now usable through the phone, which now includes the BNB token from Binance, along with Litecoin.
The “decentralized chief officer” with HTC, Phil Chen, spoke to CoinDesk on the matter, saying that “this is more of a core launch.” The phone was already available for purchase last year when cryptocurrency was exclusively used.
Though consumers will now be able to use fiat currency in their purchase, the phone is still being sold online only for $699. Though Chen has expressed the desire to possible sell the device in stores with various carriers, the concept is still being discussed with those carriers. Continuing, Chen said,
“We’ve already had some conversation that’s preliminary, but part of why we’re going to Mobile World Congress is to have those conversations.”
Along with the announcements of more cryptocurrency options and the new way to purchase the device, HTC announced that they would also be integrating EXODUS to their Opera web browser to make it easier to use crypto.
When using the Zion mobile wallet app to add crypto funds, for example, users will be able to submit micropayments when using Opera or a decentralized app to access a website. Explaining to a publication named Verge, Chen said,
“Now you could pay an amount like 0.00002 ETH [equivalent to about $0.0027]. And never in the history of micropayments did that make sense. There’d be a transaction fee, or you’d have to share revenue with the app store.”
The goal of EXODUS originally was that it would support the Web 3.0 movement, according to Chen. Ultimately, he sees Opera as just “the beginning,” and that the device will eventually be able to offer 80% of the most popular dApps.
The head of crypto with Opera Browser, Charles Hamel, spoke on this partnership, saying that he and the company are “proud to partner with EXODUS and together define a new standard for usability and security of crypto.” Continuing, Hamel said,
“We are at the dawn of a new generation of the Web, one where new decentralized services will challenge the status quo. HTC and Opera have both made the bold decision to be the first to step up and enable this transformation.”
To ensure that the use of cryptocurrencies is safe on the device, HTC has created a “kind of walled-off area,” according to Chen, which is more commonly called a “trusted execution environment.”
The area is not considered cold storage, since an internet connection is possible. However, there is no way for the HTC operating system to directly access the wallet, which means that any malicious hackers that access the phone will remain unable to access the cryptocurrency attached to it.
Furthermore, the HTC social key recovery system allows users to regain access to lost private keys, which has not been done before.
Chen said, “Coming up with the solution of a social key recovery, I think that’s a big breakthrough too. What happens when you lose your phone?”
Discussing this issue that many people face, he added,
“That’s been a fundamental problem, if you lose your device or lose your private keys, in this case what happens if you lose your phone? Coming up with the solution of splitting up your keys … without us having access to your keys or storing them on a server … that was a big breakthrough for us.”
Overall, Chen has some lofty goals for the HTC EXODUS, like his projection of shipping 1 million units before the end of the year. Comparatively, in 2017, HTC as a whole sold 980,000 smartphones, but numbers were not available for 2018. With these major changes in the smartphone marketplace, it should come as no surprise that the tech company is not alone in their idea.
Samsung announced the Galaxy S10 last week, which will include secure storage support for blockchain keys.
However, rather than restricting the purchases to cryptocurrency at the beginning, Samsung is immediately opening the device to the public for a mass market launch. However, the base model is about $200 more than HTC EXODUS. Even the cheaper version, the S10e, is still $50 more than EXODUS at $749.99.
Several blockchain startups are working on their own devices right now, like Finney from Sirin Labs ($999) and the M1 smartphone from Electroneum.