In the previous article, we discussed the best desktop and online wallets. These operating formats have a lot to offer: desktop wallets have the advantage of advanced interfaces often leading to a more nuanced user experience as well as greater security, while online wallets provide maximum freedom to the user.
The next wallet types offer different advantages and are worth investigating in their own right. The prevalence of mobile devices in society makes these apps an interesting choice for the average user while hardware wallets are absolutely necessary for anyone holding large sums of crypto. Here we will examine some of the best wallets available.
Mobile wallets are just that: wallets that are available through mobile apps. These are convenient and usually easy to use while being accessible at nearly all times.
Jaxx: The Multicurrency Wallet For Mobile
Released in 2014 by Decentral Inc., Jaxx is a multicurrency wallet developed for use on mobile devices and desktop computers. Jaxx allows users to control over 60 coins and tokens all with one private key and seed phrase for both Android and Apple devices. Bitcoin, Litecoin, DASH as well as dozens of altcoins are all supported by the Jaxx wallet.
A well-designed and stylish user interface makes Jaxx a joy to use and a great choice for new users. A number of interesting features also make Jaxx an exciting option for anyone looking to manage crypto from their back pocket. Jaxx offers users the ability to toggle between variable mining rewards depending on each unique transaction: increase the fee for speedier transactions and lower it for less pressing ones.
Seeing as Jaxx is a multicurrency wallet the designers did well in partnering with ShapeShift to integrate a currency exchange into the wallet that makes swapping between different currencies smooth and easy. This is great for traders playing the market as well as users trying to make transactions in the real world, where not all coins are accepted. Another feature that is tailored to real-world use is the utilization of QR codes. By taking advantage of mobile devices’ built-in QR tech Jaxx is able to limit the mistakes and increase precision when sending and receiving funds.
Is The Jaxx Mobile Wallets Secure?
Jaxx employs standard security practices, but due to its mobile platform, this wallet should only be used to store small amounts of coins at any given time. While it is a good thing that private keys are stored on the device and not on any third-party server, it is still important to realize the susceptibility to hacking that is inherent in mobile devices. Jaxx does generate seed phrases for all wallets created, which is good considering the increased likelihood of losing or damaging a mobile device compared to a desktop.
There are a lot of aspects that make Jaxx a good choice; however, it has its faults as well: namely security and reports of bugs. In 2017 a user reported that he lost $400,000 worth of coins from a Jaxx wallet. While there is no doubt that no one should ever keep these kinds of funds in a hot wallet, the trouble arose from a bug in the security protocols utilized by developers. Hackers were able to extract users’ seed phrases due to an easily circumvented encryption process. More concerning than this was their team's response: “We are very comfortable with this security model for hot wallets. The fact is there will always be tradeoffs between user experience portability and security and we believe we’ve struck a great balance,” Nilang Vyas CTO Jaxx.
Despite this Jaxx is a solid choice for any user, although it might be better suited to new users thanks to its intuitive user interface. If proper personal security practices are exercised on the user side as well as properly managing funds, Jaxx can be a good multicurrency wallet for mobile purposes.
Mycelium: An Open-source Wallet
Mycelium is another open-source mobile wallet that is designed for those that wish to trade strictly in Bitcoin. It has versions available for Android and Apple operating systems and is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes. Developed by the Mycelium team, established in 2008, the Mycelium Wallet has several functions that appeal to users looking for a convenient, secure way to manage their Bitcoin assets.
The first, most noticeable characteristic is the user interface. Users are greeted by a clean, intuitive design with multiple setting controls, from display language and local fiat currency to the denomination of BTC the user will be dealing in (BTC, mBTC, µBTC). Users’ transaction history links directly to the blockchain and can be viewed in the app along with the users’ address book. The smooth and straightforward design appeals to both novice users and more advanced traders.
Mycelium also offers different types of accounts. One interesting account is the “watch only” account: this allows users to monitor funds stored in cold storage, specifically paper wallets, from your mobile device. Users can also integrate hardware wallets—Trezor, Ledger and more—thus taking advantage of the smooth interface while keeping private keys offline. This is an important feature as it allows users to manage large amounts of BTC without sacrificing the security of holding them in a hot wallet.
The QR code feature helps limit mistakes and makes sending money to new addresses quick and easy. There is also a QR code associated with the wallet address embedded on the front page of the app, making receiving funds easier as well. Mining rates are variable, allowing users to toggle between low, economic, normal and priority with the touch of a button directly from the “send” page.
The Mycelium Wallet Ecosystem
The Mycelium wallet also features integration with some interesting Mycelium projects: Mycelium Gear, an online payment system for merchants, Mycelium Swish, designed for bars and restaurants, Mycelium Card, a battery-powered, autonomous point-of-sale terminal, and Mycelium Entropy a USB device that allows for the offline generation of paper wallets. All of these features create a broad eco-system for Mycelium to continue to develop and spread through different areas of the real-world economy.
Mycelium’s main drawbacks lie in security. While a PIN is required to access the app on a mobile device some users are troubled by the fact that private keys are stored on the Mycelium network. All chats conversations and transactions are encrypted which is a plus for privacy. However, this is outweighed by the lack of two-factor authentication or multi-sig authorization, leaving security-minded users a bit nervous. The lack of a desktop version has also led some customers to different platforms.
With the available features and its focus on every-day, real-world transactions it is no wonder why Mycelium has remained popular. Despite their lack of some more strenuous security protocols reports of security compromises are low and with the proper personal safeguards, this wallet can be successfully utilized. While Mycelium has drawbacks its popularity is undeniable: Mycelium Wallet has retained a 4.5 star rating on Google Play and won the Best Mobile App award from Blockchain.info in 2014—this is a wallet worth investigating.
Hardware wallets are separate, standalone devices that can hold cryptocurrencies. These can be seen as more secure but are not as convenient as some other types of wallets.
Trezor: The First Of Its Kind
The Trezor Wallet, developed SatoshiLabs and released in 2014, is a popular hardware wallet with many clever and useful features and is perfect for anyone with large amounts of crypto to store. It provides some of the most secure storage for over 500 different crypto assets and also allows users to manage their funds by connecting to a desktop computer (Mac, Windows and Linux supported) for convenience. Here we will examine why so many crypto enthusiasts have chosen Trezor to store their crypto.
The new Trezor Model T has several updated features that enhance the overall user experience. One of these improvements is the addition of an RGB LCD screen in place of the two-button setup of the Trezor One. This touchscreen display is simple and easy to use; it is a nice improvement and allows users to interact with funds even if they do not have a desktop interface. However, the Trezor wallet can be linked with a number of software wallets to take advantage of different interfaces and features.
Users can set up new wallets on Trezor or import existing wallets using private keys to utilize the high level, multi-layer security the Model T offers. Trezor utilizes two-factor authentication for security along with seed phrases for wallet recovery. One enhanced feature of the Model T is the authentication code required before the device can even connect with a computer; USB communication is safeguarded.
The keypad also plays a role in the security of the device: the arrangement of numbers on the keypad change after every use preventing PIN theft by looking at the entry of the number or checking for fingerprints on the display. To protect against brute force attacks on PIN security the wait time between incorrect PIN entries increases exponentially by a power of 2 after each attempt. There is also a “long press to confirm” feature required before any transaction is digitally signed. This prevents accidental transactions as well as protects against bot attacks and automated operations to further secure your assets.
Staying Up To Date
One innovation that the SatoshiLab team is excited about is the idea of “expansibility”. This refers to the device's ability, by means of a MicroSD slot, to update the firmware with new coins as well as developments made to the open-source Trezor Core.
The Trezor’s high-level security protocols make it one of the safest ways to store your crypto funds. While it has many positive aspects it is not perfect. One complaint that critics have made about the Model T is the material used: it is made of plastic which some users have reported as “cheap feeling”, and given the price ($169) a premium appearance is expected. Some users have also taken issue with the T-9 keypad format: despite the increased size of the Model T over the Trezor One, there still is not enough room for the QWERTY keyboard that many users are comfortable with.
Despite these minor complaints, the overall feedback from the community is positive and the Model T more than makes up for these aesthetic shortcomings with the key elements of security, usability and expansibility. For any user with large amounts of crypto to manage the Trezor hardware wallet is definitely worth further research.
Ledger Nano S: A New Hardware Wallet
Developed by the Ledger team, who has been leading the industry in security and infrastructure solutions for blockchain and cryptocurrencies since 2014, the Ledger Nano S is a very popular hardware wallet. The emphasis on security as well as developing an easy to use device has made the Nano S an obvious choice for many crypto enthusiasts with large amounts of assets.
The Nano S supports major coins like BTC, ETH and XRP as well as hundreds of altcoins. The desktop interface is intuitive and allows users to smoothly manage their assets without risk of compromised security, as private keys never leave the device. A nice feature of Nano S is the ability to manage multiple accounts from one wallet: if you were holding coins for a friend or family member, you are able to interact with these funds while keeping them separate from your own assets. Existing wallets can also be imported to the Nano S using private keys.
The Nano S uses open code and is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome operating systems. It can also be connected to Android devices using and OTG cable. The Nanos S can integrate with a number of desktop wallets to take advantage of their different interfaces. The sleek design and quality craftsmanship ad to the appeal of the Nano S and the built-in screen and simple, two-button controls make for an easy to use structure.
Do You Need A Hardware Wallet?
As far as security is concerned the Nano S is basically unhackable. It has two-factor authentication capabilities as well as 24-word seed phrases to ensure recoverability of assets if the wallet is damaged or destroyed. It also requires the user to physically push the button on the device before any transactions can take place: if someone were to gain access to your private key they would also need the device in order to move any funds. Private keys and seed phrases are also only ever displayed on the Nano S built-in screen: even when using an integrated desktop wallet the private key never leaves the device.
There are not many faults with the Nano S; so far there have been no reported cases of security compromises and user reviews are generally very positive. Even the price tag is reasonable: at $59 it is one of the more affordable hardware wallets on the market, and with the features and security it offers this is one wallet worth considering.
Choosing The Right Wallet For Crypto
As we have seen in this small example of crypto wallets, there is a wallet out there for every type of investor: from day traders on the move, holding dozens of different coins that need constant access to their funds, to the “hodler” that rarely touches their assets. The most important step in finding a wallet is examining your needs and expectations and determining which wallet best suits you. As with all things crypto, the onus is on the investor to analyze the situation and be responsible with their funds and finding the right wallet is the first and possibly most important step, in exploring the diverse and profitable world of cryptocurrencies.
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