HTC announced its newest device, an early access blockchain smartphone called the ‘Exodus 1’ in Berlin Tuesday.
Expected to ship in December, the handset is only available for purchase in Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH).
At first glance, the Exodus 1 is very much a 2018 flagship. While HTC hasn’t shown us much of the phone, what we have seen looks quite similar to the U12+ released earlier this year.
The Exodus 1 even sports a similar semi-transparent backplate — which I think looks stunning.
On the inside, there isn’t much different either. The Exodus 1 sports 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and a Snapdragon 845 processor. The phone also runs Android Oreo and sports a 3,500mAh battery.
Furthermore, it’s dust resistant and has an IP68 waterproof rating, giving it protection for up to 1.5 metres of submersion and up to 30 minutes.
On the front is a 6-inch Quad HD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Above the display are dual 8-megapixel cameras. The backside features dual 12-megapixel and 16-megapixel cameras with “high-quality zoom.” Additionally, the Exodus 1 can record full 4K at 60FPS.
Beyond subtle camera differences, this is mostly what we saw in the U12+. However, the Exodus 1 has another essential internal it doesn’t share with the U12+: a “secure enclave.”
With a twist
The secure enclave is a locked area on the device isolated and protected from the Android OS. Reminiscent of Google’s Titan M chip in the Pixel 3, the difference is HTC’s secure enclave is all about crypto.
The company says the enclave can store the keys for your cryptocurrencies or non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs are a particular type of cryptographic token that represents a unique object. For example, the Vancouver-based blockchain game CryptoKitties uses NFTs for the collectible cats in the game.
HTC also says that users will be able to store all their digital data on the secure enclave in the near future.
Furthermore, the company has developed a ‘Social Key Recovery’ mechanism to help you recover your keys from the secure enclave if you lose your phone or someone steals it.
Users can choose a few trusted contacts who must download a key management app. Then, your ‘seed,’ or your private key, gets split using a secret sharing algorithm and stored with your trusted contacts in separate pieces. Should the need arise, you can recover the seed from them to access your funds.
Partnering to improve security
Eventually, HTC will release APIs for third-party developers to use the Exodus 1 hardware to protect keys and sign transactions.
On top of all this, HTC is inviting cryptographers and developers from around the world to join the Exodus community and help improve the secure enclave. The company wants to use this early access period to gather feedback and contributions to enhance enclave security.
To keep up with HTC’s Exodus team and their work you can subscribe to their YouTube vlog. Phil Chen, the team’s Chief Crypto Officer (CCO) hosts the vlog and discusses news regarding mobile and blockchain technology. Currently, there is only one episode, but more are sure to come.
Only in Bitcoin and Ethereum
Additionally, you can get the Exodus 1 through the early access program on its website. The phone will be available in 34 countries, including Canada, U.S., U.K., and Australia.
One caveat, however, is that the Exodus 1 can only be purchased using cryptocurrency. The device retails for 0.15 BTC (about $1,255.87 CAD) or 4.78 ETH (about $1275.30 CAD).
It’s a steep price to pay, but HTC believes the Exodus 1 is the future of mobile and blockchain.
“Exodus 1 is a foundational element of the crypto internet. For digital assets and decentralized apps to reach their potential, we believe mobile will need to be the main point of distribution,” said Chen.
“We look forward to partnering with developers in the blockchain community to usher in this