Would You Buy the Exodus 1 for 4.78 Ether?

Taiwanese tech company HTC launched the Exodus 1, its blockchain-based smartphone, on Tuesday, October 23. The phone is only for purchase with cryptocurrency. It sells for 0.15 bitcoins (BTC) or 4.78 ether tokens (ETH), which equals approximately $960, and is available in 34 countries including Taiwan, Hong Kong, the U.S. and the U.K. It’s expected to ship in December.

What makes the phone stand out are its built-in blockchain and cryptocurrency features. It includes a cryptocurrency wallet, called Zion, which runs on a secure enclave on the phone’s chip that’s separate from the Android operating system. The wallet was developed using technology from SoftBank’s Arm Holdings and acts like a separate, miniature OS.

The phone’s blockchain technology enables users to own their own private keys for their wallets and enhances the security and privacy aspects of the device. It could also be used to store other sensitive information. If a user loses access to their funds, they can use the “Social Key Recovery” Feature, which requires several trusted contacts to provide parts of a code that enables the user to regain access.

“And the reason why you do a blockchain phone is … for everybody just to own their own keys,” Phil Chen, HTC’s decentralized chief officer, told CNBC. “Everything starts there. When you start owning your own keys, then you can start owning your own digital identity, then you can start to own data.”

The phone also uses the blockchain in other ways such as running decentralized applications and programs.

Specs of the Exodus 1

Some other specs of the Exodus 1 include its six gigabytes (GB) of RAM, 128GB of storage, 3500mAh battery, six-inch display with quad-HD+ resolution, 16-megapixel (MP) dual main camera and 8MP dual front camera with 4K video. The device runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. Apps run on Android Oreo. The device is rated as dust-resistant and waterproof.

HTC is inviting blockchain developers to provide feedback on the phone and help improve it. The company plans to release APIs so that third-party services can access the phone’s hardware systems.

“EXODUS 1 is a foundational element of the crypto internet,” Phil Chen said. “For digital assets and decentralised apps to reach their potential, we believe mobile will need to be the main point of distribution. We look forward to partnering with developers in the blockchain community to usher in this vision.”

HTC has indicated that the Exodus 1 is part of a shift in the company’s smartphone strategy.

“We believe blockchain is the new paradigm for smartphones and it will form part of HTC’s wider smartphone strategy,” Chen told CNBC. “This marks a change in HTC, with increased focus on software and IP.”

Another company, a startup called Sirin Labs, is developing its own blockchain-based phone. The device, called Finney, will cost $1000 and is expected in November. A small startup by the name of Sikur became the first to ship a blockchain phone when it launched its Sikurphone, a version of Sony’s Experia phone customized with SkurOS software, in September.

Is It Worth It?

Is the Exodus 1 a worthwhile purchase? While it isn’t cheap, its price is not too far off from that of other high-end but non-blockchain phones. The Exodus 1 might not be for everyone though. For those who aren’t experienced with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, it’s likely better to wait until this kind of technology matures a bit. If you are, however, getting in on the ground floor may be worth the 4.78 ETH price tag.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Kayla Matthews has been a technology and productivity journalist for over 7 years contributing to publications such as MakeUseOf, The Next Web, VentureBeat and Cointelegraph. She's also the editor of her tech blog, Productivity Bytes, where she writes everything from how-tos to the latest news in technology. To see more of her work, subscribe to Hacked.com or follow her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews.