* ^Image courtesy of CoinSutra
Perhaps the single best ways to protect your cryptocurrency today is to use a cryptocurrency hardware wallet.
Hardware wallets are cold wallets. They keep your cryptocurrency offline, and safe. In this post, I will review the best cryptocurrency hardware wallets of 2019.
I always recommend that you buy the hardware wallets from reputable sources, which is really only one of two: the actual company website, or the actual hardware wallet company on Amazon. Do not buy from the secondary market such as craigslist or kijiji or from someone on the Facebook Marketplace etc. These can be tampered or have the recovery seed word list compromised.
Keep in mind that you will have to evaluate which hardware wallet works best for you based on user interface, cost and security level.
- The Different Hardware Wallets
- Avoid a single point of failure
- Markshire Crypto Conclusion – Best Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallets 2019
The Different Hardware Wallets
There are many different hardware wallet companies out there. Keeping your cryptocurrency safe is becoming a profitable business. But if a company is solving a valuable problem, my response is “please, take my money“.
In this post I discuss the top, most reputable cryptocurrency hardware wallet companies and the best hardware wallets that they offer. The companies include: Ledger, Trezor, KeepKey, Shift Cryptosecurity (BitBox), and CoolBitX (CoolWallet S).
Ledger the company was founded in France in 2014, by 8 experts with complementary backgrounds in embedded security, cryptocurrencies and entrepreneurship. Visit their website, Ledger.
They have created a lineup of hardware wallets, “Ledgers”. The most popular being the Ledger Nano S for its affordability, compact size and USB connection to laptops/computers.
The Ledger hardware wallet also comes with a great supporting app called the Ledger Live App that is available for download on their website. It organizes your cryptocurrency wallets in a clear layout with the values being displayed as crypto or fiat.
The Ledger company boasts several features on its wallets
- State-of-the-Art Security
- Secure Element chip – a physically secure separate chip within the USB device.
- Tamper-resistant hardware platform.
- Native, unique, exclusive secure element operating system named BOLOS (Blockchain Open Ledger Operating System)
- Independently certified by ANSSI
- The Ledger wallets support many different cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Litecoin, and hundreds more.
- Supports up to 1100 at the time of writing.
- Constantly expanding to support more cryptocurrencies.
- The Ledger devices are highly simplistic in their use, with a minimalist design.
Ledger Nano S
The Ledger Nano S hardware wallet is their most popular, highly bought cryptocurrency hardware wallet. See my full review here.
It has a simplistic design with only two buttons and a small screen on the device to read your recovery seed list, enter your PIN, select cryptocurrency apps and verify addresses.
The Ledger Nano S comes in several colours: Matte Black, Saffron Yellow, Flamingo Pink, Jade Green, Lagoon Blue and Transparent Plastic. And it costs ~ $66 USD per Ledger Nano S (~ $89 CAD).
In the box:
- 1 USB hardware wallet device
- 1 USB Cable
Ledger Nano X
The Ledger Nano X is basically an upgraded version of the Ledger Nano S. See my full review of the Ledger Nano X here.
The Ledger Nano X hardware wallet incorporates Bluetooth technology to securely and wirelessly connect from your Ledger Nano X hardware wallet device to your Ledger Live Mobile App, on-the-go, anywhere that you go.
With the bluetooth technology and incorporation of the Ledger Live mobile app, sending cryptocurrencies is simple and secure by verifying all of your actions on the app with a touch of the Ledger Nano X device’s buttons.
The Ledger Nano X hardware wallet has expanded memory to allow you to store up to 100 cryptocurrency apps on the device at any given time (compared to the Ledger Nano S’s 3 to 5).
Some people have reservations about the security of the Ledger Nano X due to the Bluetooth enabled feature. However, on numerous occasions and in the FAQ of the Ledger website, it explains that the private keys never leave the secure element chip which is physically separate from the Bluetooth communication, and so it is not exposed to any greater security threat.
If you are still worried about the Bluetooth as a possible security weak-point, you have three options:
- Disable the Bluetooth on the Ledger Nano X and use the USB cable provided in the box;
- Simply use a Ledger Nano S;
- Use an entirely different hardware wallet.
Overall the Ledger Nano X Hardware wallet is a better, improved version of the Ledger Nano S. At a cost of ~ $118 USD (~ $159 CAD) this is a good price for the security and mobility that the Ledger Nano X hardware wallet provides.
The Ledger Blue has been around for a long while. It has a large colour touchscreen display and supports over 30 cryptocurrencies.
It is obviously an attractive device to use since half the time I visit the Ledger website it appears to be “sold out”, even with its hefty price tag of ~ $266 USD (~ $359 CAD).
However… In my opinion I think the Ledger Nano X is a better option. The Ledger Nano X has a lower price point (~ $118 USD), can store many more cryptocurrency apps on the device (~100 compared to 30), is smaller/more portable, and with the integration of the Ledger Live mobile and desktop app it negates the need for the screen on the Ledger Blue.
Trezor was one of the very first hardware wallet companies. It is a physical device that plugs into your laptop via a micro USB cord. The Trezor devices are simple, easy to use, and intuitive so that you do not need to read through lengthy instructions manual to use it.
There are two models of the Treozr wallet: Trezor One (the original) and Trezor T (newer model).
See my Trezor Wallet Review here.
Read off and write down (with pen and paper) your 24-word recovery seed directly from the Trezor device screen. Set up your device PIN and create a Passphrase as your “25th” recovery seed.
The Trezor Wallet claims to be the gold standard of cryptocurrency cold storage, hardware wallet security. It keeps your private keys offline.
Trezor Wallets stores over 1000 cryptocurrencies – although lets’ be honest… there are really maybe only 10 to 25 worth truly investing in…
All Trezor wallets receive premium support from the Trezor Company and all are designed and built in the European Union.
The Trezor wallet has a desktop and mobile application that allows you to interface with your cryptocurrency and truly control it. With the Trezor Wallet Application you can:
- Follow your transaction history,
- Receive cryptocurrencies,
- Send cryptocurrencies and
- Separate your cryptocurrencies into different accounts within your Trezor Wallet.
But there’s more! The Trezor Device has a unique feature that I have not seen on other cryptocurrency hardware wallets: a password manager.
With your Trezor Device the Trezor application has a built in password manager that can store your passwords for a variety of different accounts including the Trezor itself, Paypal, Dropbox, Skype, Google, Github, Facebook Messenger (and more).
There are password manager apps that are on your phone, however, they are software only and thus stored on a cloud somewhere and you are trusting a third party for your password security. With the Trezor, the passwords are stored on your device only and thus protected by your PIN, passphrase and recovery seed.
Let’s get down to the specific models of Trezor wallets below.
The Trezor One was the original Trezor hardware wallet. It has a monochrome display with two buttons on the device to navigate and confirm or deny transactions.
Easy to use.
Secures your cryptocurrency via PIN entry, recovery seed and passphrase. All of which is entered on your computer or mobile phone while connected to the Trezor One for confirmation.
Other features of the Trezor One include:
- Password Manager (encrypted on cloud storage)
- U2F authentication
- Encryption via GPG
At a price of EUR$69 (~$78 USD depending on the exchange rate) this seems a good buy to protect potentially tens of thousands of dollars worth of Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Litecoin, Stellar, BNB or any other of your favourite cryptos.
Trezor Model T
The Trezor Model T is the new-and-improved Trezor Hardware Wallet. It supports a number of features. Most notable being the full-colour touchscreen and the microSD card for added security.
With the full-colour touchscreen, the Trezor Model T is likely even EASIER to use than the Trezor One. The touchscreen truly allows you to more securely verify transactions as you decrease your risk of man-in-the-middle attacks via the software application on your mobile or computer.
The Trezor Model T also has PIN, passphrase and recover seed security features, however, rather than using the Trezor App on your mobile or computer, you actually enter them on the Trezor Device itself for added security to protect from key logging spyware/viruses etc.
Other Features of Trezor Model T:
- Password Manager (encrypted cloud storage or physical microSD)
- U2F authentication
- Encryption via GPG
- On Trezor data & file encryption
- microSD card
- Full colour touch screen
The Trezor devices significantly contribute to your digital sovereign identity by storing your private keys and passwords and with U2F authentication and microSD card.
At a price of EUR$ 149 ($168 USD) it is a very reasonable price for the amount of added features it includes to protect your cryptocurrency and manage your sensitive online passwords.
KeepKey is a hardware wallet, created by the company ShapeShift, that stores and secures digital assets (aka cryptocurrencies). It is a cold storage solution, keeping all of your private keys offline. Hence the name “KeepKey” – it “keeps your private keys”.
See my full KeepKey Review here.
KeepKey has a compatible software application for your computer to help you manage your cryptocurrency/digital assets that are stored on the device. Simply use the included USB cord to connect it to your laptop
The KeepKey device stores your private keys on a physically separate hardware piece so that even when connected to a computer, the KeepKey never reveals your private keys to the computer software. They claim that even if your computer is infected with a cryptocurrency related virus your private keys are safe as they are stored offline on the physical KeepKey device.
The KeepKey supports many great features:
- PIN protection
- Recovery seed (12-words)
- Passphrase protection
- Custom transaction speeds
- Limitless wallet addresses
- ShapeShift Exchange integration
KeepKey is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linus. The “KeepKey Client” app is available on Google Chrome.
Unfortunately, from the last update on the KeepKey website, they have limited cryptocurrency support. KeepKey supports:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- Bitcoin Gold (like seriously?)
- ERC-20 tokens
No XRP…. that’s a shame.
Overall I am a little less impressed with KeepKey compared to Ledger and Trezor. The recovery seed is only 12 words compared to 24, and there are significantly fewer cryptocurrencies supported (it would seem at least).
At a price of $79 USD, it is pretty middle-tier with support for only a few cryptocurrencies and no XRP. No BlueTooth features and only 12 recovery seed words… I think that there are better options with the other hardware wallets on this post, but it is still a good buy to protect your cryptocurrencies and one of the leading hardware wallet companies in the industry.
BitBox (formerly Digital BitBox) is the cold storage hardware wallet created by the company Shift Cryptosecurity based in Switzerland.
The BitBox hardware wallet boasts a minimalist design with maximum security – true to the time-tested Swiss characteristics of self-reliance, performance excellence and rock-solid dependability.
BitBox and Shift Cryptosecurity has been around since 2015 and since then has produced a reliable and continually updated BitBox hardware wallet, with a software application to control your interface with the wallet.
The BitBox boasts a durable, compact, portable, easy to use size with multi-functionality as a FIDO compatible U2F key.
Some of BitBox’s features include:
- Native software client to avoid risks of browser-based clients
- Hidden wallets (plausible deniability)
- U2F authentication (FIDO compatible)
- Offline backup and recovery with microSD card
- Compact, subtle design draws little attention
Unfortunately, the BitBox has limited cryptocurrency support at this time, supporting Bitcoin, Ethereum (and ERC-20 tokens), and Litecoin. Additionally, the lack of a screen for verification of addresses is less than appealing.
So far, two cons:
- No screen to verify addresses/PIN
- Limited cryptocurrency/digital asset support
There are three things that I really like about the BitBox:
- MicroSD for offline backup
- U2F authentication feature that can be used for other services such as your bank account, social media (Facebook, Twitter) and other online services/websites.
- Compact, durable design
- *BONUS – Swiss designed and made.*
For a price of EUR$ 44 (~$50 USD) it is a great deal for what it offers. And do not let the lower price trick you into thinking this is of lower quality. I have the BitBox personally and I truly do love its simplicity, durability and U2F feature.
See my full CoolWallet S Review here.
CoolBitX was founded in 2014, and launched the first CoolWallet in 2015. There were some road-bumps along the way and they added support for more cryptocurrencies.
In 2017 they began working on the new CoolWallet S, which became a reality in early 2018.
The CoolWallet S is no ordinary hardware wallet. It’s a contemporary mobile solution that truly secures your crypto assets and empowers you, the investor. It stays safely in your pocket, giving you discreet access to your investment, on the go, wherever you are.
Thanks to the combination of both usability and the patented tamper-proof security, the CoolWallet S is the cold wallet of choice for many of the world’s crypto leaders.Home Page CoolWallet S
The CoolWallet S Features:
- Supported CryptoAssets:
- Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), XRP, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and ERC-20 Tokens.
- Track your portfolio
- Recovery seed word list
- Mobile native with BlueTooth technology – pairs with up to 3 devices.
- View/confirm send addresses via the on-device screen
- 2+1 Factor Authentication (biometric and physical 2FA checks)
- Exchange directly from the cold wallet via Binance DEX or Changelly
- One battery charge lasts weeks
- Simple to use (only one button)
Numerous large cryptocurrency companies have endorsed CoolWallet S as their go-to, top hardware wallet, including but not limited to: SBI Holdings, Bitmain, Kyber, Litecoin Foundation, Binance, Gemini, Changelly, imToken, and more.
With a price tag of $99 USD, the CoolWallet S may be one of the best buys on this hardware wallet review list. With its 2+1 Factor Authentication, Mobile capabilities/interface, recovery seed, waterproof feature and small size, the CoolWallet S is a great wallet choice for any cryptocurrency enthusiast/investor.
Avoid a Single Point of Failure
Another point is to avoid a single point of failure. To have all of your cryptocurrency on a single hardware wallet can be dangerous if it becomes compromised.
If you have cryptocurrency that is valued at over $10,000 you may want to get a second hardware wallet… one hardware wallet ranges from $60 to $300, so that is a small price to pay to keep $10,000 safe.
Moreover, I would recommend getting a second wallet from a different hardware wallet company than the one(s) you already own. Diversify in this respect. This is because each company supports the software and software updates for the security of your hardware wallet. Therefore, should one company go out of business or suffer a bug or malicious malware update/phishing attack then you do not want all of your hardware wallets compromised.
Having multiple hardware wallets from different companies helps to mitigate this risk.
Markshire Crypto Conclusion – Best Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallets 2019
I have to say that after researching all of the above hardware wallets, I am thoroughly impressed with what the cryptocurrency community has developed in such a short amount of time.
I personally have a Ledger Nano S, as well as a BitBox. I aim to have at least one of each model in the very near future.
Based off of these summaries, I’d have to say that the Trezor Model T and CoolWallet S are my top favourites… however, the BitBox and Ledger Nano X come in closely behind… Those would definitely be my top 4 out of the 8 reviewed.
That being said, to avoid a single point of failure, you should have AT LEAST two cryptocurrency hardware wallets, of different brands. Protect yourself and your cryptocurrency.
Your individual strategy will vary, depending on the size of your investment, as well as your comfort level with managing multiple hardware wallets.
I generally recommend splitting your cryptocurrency holdings/investments into at least two different hardware wallets, with one spare, “empty” wallet that is not opened as a backup device if you lose another hardware wallet or one is stolen. With the spare, you can use your recovery seed and passphrase to back up to your spare wallet.