Hardware Wallet Purchase Guide

How to properly store, manage, and protect your valuable crypto assets.

Best Hardware Wallets

There have been countless cryptocurrency exchange security breaches, cases of negligence on behalf of counterparties, and successful phishing attempts that have resulted in the theft of billions of dollars worth of crypto assets.

By nature of finding this guide, you are very much aware of these negative scenarios and understand the importance of storing your own crypto assets.

Hardware wallets are widely considered to be the most secure method for storing crypto assets because the private keys (required to access and recover the stored crypto assets) never leave the device.

Blockfer’s comprehensive guide to purchasing a hardware wallet has all the essential information you’ll need including detailed product comparisons, what to expect from your hardware wallet selection, and best security practices.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: ALWAYS PURCHASE YOUR HARDWARE WALLET DIRECTLY FROM THE MANUFACTURER.

Wallet Mobile Connectors Staking Display Dimensions Price

Ledger Nano X

Android

iOS

USB Type-C

Bluetooth for Mobile

Yes

128x64 OLED screen

72x18.6x11.75mm

34g

Top Choice

Trezor One

Android

Micro USB

No

128x64 OLED screen

60x30x6mm

12g

Ledger Nano S

Android

USB Type Micro-B

No

128x32 OLED screen

57x17.4x9.1mm

16.2g

Trezor Model T

Android

USB-C

Micro SD

No

240x240 LCD touchscreen

64x39x10mm

22g

Step 1: Understand The Factors To Consider When Choosing A Hardware Wallet

The following questions and scenarios are worthy considerations prior to your hardware wallet purchase:

Which crypto assets will you be storing?

All hardware wallets listed in this guide support Bitcoin and native Ethereum assets. Users seeking to store large amounts of crypto assets with unique underlying blockchains should check with the hardware wallet provider to make sure these assets are supported prior to making a purchase.

For example, it’s currently not possible to store XRP, EOS, or XTZ on the Trezor One.

If the crypto asset you wish to store isn’t supported on your desired hardware wallet, you may need to consider another hardware wallet or form of wallet.

How much are your crypto assets worth?

Blockchain finance hobbyists and investors with a limited amount of crypto assets in value may not need to purchase a hardware wallet.

Individuals who only own the equivalent of a few hundred dollars or less in crypto asset value, or only plan on investing for the short-term, should not spend a considerable portion of this value on a more secure device as most mobile and web wallets are available for free.

Individuals who own a significant amount of crypto assets in value should be using hardware wallets based on a simple risk/reward analysis.

Do you plan to purchase more crypto assets in the future?

For those planning on buying a large sum of crypto assets at some point in the future, it’s a prudent idea to consider secure storage ahead of time.

Storing crypto assets on an exchange carries substantial risk and exposure to security breaches that often result in stolen funds.

What is your preferred device for accessing stored crypto assets?

Users should be aware that the most popular hardware wallets can be accessed directly via mobile device, with the Ledger Nano X even supporting bluetooth functionality.

Both personal computer and mobile focused users with highly valued crypto assets should be using hardware wallets.

Will you be staking your crypto assets now or anytime in the future?

Staking crypto assets directly through a hardware wallet will become an increasingly popular choice for both security and convenience reasons. Be sure to check if your desired hardware wallet currently supports, or plans to support, the crypto assets you plan to stake in the future.

Step 2: Learn About The Alternatives: Hardware Wallets vs Web (Browser) Wallets vs Mobile Wallets

Ensure that a hardware wallet is the best selection for your needs with our detailed comparisons below:

Hardware Wallets Web Wallets Mobile Wallets
Experience Required
Intermediate
Beginner
Beginner
High Value Crypto Asset Storage
Safe
Not Safe
Not Safe
Private Keys Hack Risk
None; Device never connects to the internet.
Devices are connected to the internet; Hackers can compromise it with key loggers, trojan horses, viruses, and spyware.
Mobile Compatibility
Yes
No
Yes
Cost
$50 to $170
Free
Free

Hardware Wallets

You may have heard the phrase: “Not your keys, not your coins.”

This refers to storing crypto assets on wallets that are custodial, meaning that another person or company owns the private keys required to access your funds.

Hardware wallets are non-custodial. No third party can access the private keys required to access your funds, resulting in maximum security.

As a hardware wallet owner, you are in full control of your private keys and crypto assets.

Web Wallets

Web wallets enable users to store, send, and receive crypto assets via a web browser or browser extension.

Although most web wallets are free to use and easy to access via personal computers, they are generally considered to be less secure than mobile wallets and unquestionably less secure than hardware wallets.

Note: Web wallets that enable individuals to store their own private keys do exist, but these private keys will almost always be used to access the wallet in an online environment.

Web wallets are a reasonable choice for hobbyists and individuals that possess less crypto (in value) than a hardware wallet costs. For example, a user with €15 worth of Ethereum can probably not justify the purchase of a Ledger Nano S costing €59 to store their assets.

Popular web wallets include Blockchain Wallet, and MyEtherWallet.

Mobile Wallets

Mobile wallets provide users the ability to store, send, and receive crypto assets via a mobile app. These wallets are readily available for free and are considered to be more secure than web wallets, but less secure than hardware wallets.

2FA authentication, unique fingerprint access, and additional layer passcodes are common security features available for mobile wallets.

Mobile wallets are ideal for users looking to spend and access their limited crypto assets on the go or users that rarely use personal computers.

Reminder: While mobile wallets are very convenient, they are not the best option for securing high value crypto asset balances.

Popular mobile wallets include Abra, Atomic Wallet, Coinbase Wallet, and Coinomi.

Step 3: Familiarize Yourself With Hardware Wallet Security Practices

You’ve now purchased the right hardware wallet for your needs. While waiting for the product to arrive in the mail, we advise that you spend some time reviewing our best security practices below that come with owning and operating a hardware wallet.

First, we must state Blockfer’s golden rules of owning a hardware wallet:

Rule 1: Do not store your seed phrase on any digital device. This means on your phone, on your computer, or any device with an internet connection.

Rule 2: Do not store your seed phrase on any digital device. This means on your phone, on your computer, or any device with an internet connection.

Rule 3: Do not store your seed phrase on any digital device. This means on your phone, on your computer, or any device with an internet connection.

These rules are repeated three times for a reason. Hardware wallets are secure. Security compromises that result in stolen funds occur when users do not take the proper precautions with their seed phrases.

DO:

  1. Make physical copies of your seed recovery and store these in different locations.

    If your hardware wallet is damaged, stolen, or lost, the backup seed recovery is the only way to regain access to your crypto assets.

    Blockfer recommends writing this information down on a piece of paper, with multiple copies, in different locations. This will effectively increase your ability to recover access to your crypto assets in a series of unfortunate events.

    Store your backup seed recovery in a secure location that isn’t connected to the internet or electronic devices.

  2. Bookmark the URL required to access your hardware wallet in the browser to reduce the possibility of visiting a compromised website.

    Malware and compromised computers do not expose the private keys on your device. This being stated, hackers constantly create fake URLs with malicious intentions in an attempt to represent themselves as the company that issues the hardware wallets.

DO NOT:

  1. Purchase your wallet from a third party vendor.

    Always purchase your hardware wallet directly from the manufacturer. There have been many reports of users purchasing compromised hardware wallets from Amazon, eBay, and other peer to peer marketplaces. Compromises include false included instructions designed to trick the investor into revealing their recovery seed to hackers and devices that have been repackaged as new after being tampered with.

  2. Talk publicly about the value of your holdings.

    Individuals known to hold large amounts of crypto assets can become potential targets for hackers and thieves online and in person. Keep your ego in check and understand that unnecessarily talking about the value of your crypto assets is a high risk, low reward scenario.

  3. Respond to or follow hardware wallet related instructions received by email.

    Hackers commonly send fraudulent emails with false company news, updates, and hardware wallet related information to as many emails as they can hoping to lure an unknowing investor into providing them with their seed and PIN code. Always ensure these updates and news releases are released directly on the hardware wallet provider’s website.

Last Step: Terms To Know

Here are a few common terms you will encounter irregardless of which hardware wallet you choose:

Cold Wallet

A crypto asset wallet that stores private keys offline. Far more secure than hot wallets, which store private keys online.

Recovery Seed

A uniquely generated sequence of 12 random words or more that are required to recover access to a crypto asset wallet. Recovery seeds are often referred to as ‘seed phrases’ or ‘mnemonic phrases’.

Private Key

Also known as a ‘secret key’, a private key is a long sequence of numbers and letters displayed as a set of alphanumeric characters. A private key is paired with a public key to securely encrypt and decrypt access to crypto asset wallets.

PIN Code

A short numeric passcode that provides an additional level of security. Wallet owners create their own unique PIN Code when initially setting up their hardware wallet.

ERC20

A smart contract standard commonly used to define tokens (crypto assets) minted on the Ethereum blockchain.

Blockfer’s Best Hardware Wallets:

The recommendations below are based on wallet provider reputation, personal testing and use by our team, customer support, ease of use, crypto assets supported, and most importantly: security track record.

Best Overall Hardware Wallet

Ledger Nano X

Learn More

at Ledger's Website

Ledger Nano X

Learn More

at Ledger's Website

  • Price

    $119

  • Mobile

    Android, iOS

  • Staking

    Yes

The Ledger Nano X is the premier hardware wallet available on the market. The latest model from the most trusted brand in the hardware wallet ecosystem.

Pros

iOS & Android Support wirelessly via Bluetooth.

Store up to 100 different crypto assets.

Convenient size.

Staking supported for select crypto assets.

Flawless security history.

Excellent support documentation.

Cons

Cost 50% More than the last model,

Specs

Connectors: USB Type-C, Bluetooth for Mobile

Display: 128x64 OLED screen

Dimensions: 72x18.6x11.75mm

Weight: 34g

Best Beginner Friendly Hardware Wallet

Ledger Nano S

Learn More

at Ledger's Webiste

Ledger Nano S

Learn More

at Radius Bank,

Member, FDIC

  • Price

    $59

  • Mobile

    Android

  • Staking

    No

The Ledger Nano S is an excellent choice for users that do not view bluetooth connectivity as an essential feature.

Pros

Best value for price.

Android supported.

Store up to 20 different crypto assets.

Convenient size.

Staking supported for select crypto assets.

Flawless security history.

Excellent support documentation.

Cons

Bluetooth is not supported.

Limited memory to manage multiple Alt-coins wallets.

Specs

Connectors: USB Type Micro-B

Display: 128x32 OLED screen

Dimensions: 57x17.4x9.1mm

Weight: 16.2g

Best Alt-Coins Hardware Wallet

Trezor Model T

Learn More

at Trezor's Website

Trezor Model T

Learn More

at Trezor's Website

  • Price

    $169.99

  • Mobile

    Android

  • Staking

    No

Trezor’s Model T is Blockfer’s #3 rated hardware wallet and a decent choice for users that elect to make their purchase from a manufacturer other than Ledger

Pros

Touchscreen interface.

External SD Storage to manage many wallets at once.

Android supported.

Convenient size.

Staking supported for select crypto assets.

Excellent support documentation.

Cons

High price relative to value.

Rare reports of security breaches when attackers have access to the physical device.

Specs

Connectors: USB-C, Micro SD

Display: 240x240 LCD touchscreen

Dimensions: 64x39x10mm

Weight: 22g


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