There are several ways to store cryptocurrencies. There are desktop and software wallets that already offer good basic protection. However, they have also become the target of hacker attacks in the past, for example through phishing.
On the other hand, hardware walls offer you the best possible security to protect your cryptocurrencies from hackers, thefts and other crooks. In the following, we introduce you to various hardware wallets and also show you our test winner.
What is a hardware wallet?
A hardware wallet is a wallet for your cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, XRP or Litecoin that stores your private key easily and securely on an external storage medium such as a USB stick. Hardware wallets have the following advantages over desktop or mobile wallets on mobile phones:
- Your private keys are secure at all times and cannot be read by software or viruses, as your hardware wallet is never connected to the Internet.
- Each transaction must be manually confirmed by a person via the respective device (Ledger, Trezor or KeepKey) so that abuse is effectively prevented.
- The software is open source, so that all updates and innovations can always be tracked and checked.
- Your coins are protected from hacking on exchanges and exchanges as they are stored safely on your hardware wallet and not on the Bitcoin wallets from Binance or Bitfinex. To date, no hardware wallet has been robbed.
- Most hardware wallets can manage many cryptocurrencies.
- Hardware Wallets offer significantly greater security than Desktop or hardware wallets at a often very low price – the acquisition costs are worth the hardware wallet investment in any case!
Practical hardware wallet Test: How we tested every product
The list of hardware wallets is long and there are always new competitors on the market. This makes it all the more difficult to maintain an overview and acquire a high-quality hardware wallet. That’s why we’ve put the work into it and put the most famous hardware wallets through their paces to make your hardware wallet purchase decision easier.
The following criteria are evaluated in our purchase guide:
- price-performance ratio
- Security and all available related measures such as 2-factor authentication.
- Available Coins
- customer support
- user interface
Ledger Hardware Wallet Nano S: Cheap but secure
From the French manufacturer Ledger there are different hardware wallets to buy in different price ranges and functional range. The all-round model that we use ourselves is the Ledger Nano S hardware wallet.
It offers an extensive protection, at a really very good price of not even 59 euros. In the following we will introduce you to the wallet and show you which cryptocurrencies are supported. We will also show you step-by-step how to use the Ledger Nano models in detail.
The Ledger Nano S supports more than 1,100 cryptocurrencies. These include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple (XRP), Litecoin, Monero and almost all coins in the top 100 by market capitalisation. A complete list can be found at this link (takes you to Ledger’s official homepage).
Your Private Keys are optimally protected on the Ledger Nano S and protected from any hackers and phishing attacks. The wallet is protected by a PIN code, which is stored on a security chip that is also used for your identity card. There is also Ledger’s own operating system “BOLOS”, which has been tested by several renowned security companies and classified as absolutely secure.
The hardware wallet Ledger Nano S is compatible with the following operating systems:
- 64-bit desktop computer with Windows 8+,
- MacOS 10.8+,
- Linux without ARM processors
- Also compatible with Android 7+ smartphones
To connect the Nano S to your desktop or smartphone, you will need the software provided by Ledger. On the Ledger Nano S a kind of “App” must be installed for each cryptocurrency, so that this can be deposited on the Wallet and dispatched. The Nano S offers storage space for a total of 5 apps, so that 5 cryptocurrencies can be managed simultaneously.
However, this does not mean that you can store more than 5 cryptocurrencies on it. If you want to manage a digital currency other than the 5 already installed, simply remove an app, e.g. for Monero, and then install the Dash App. This works completely problem-free and fast. No security vulnerabilities occur here either.
The Ledger Nano S offers an almost unbeatable price-performance ratio and offers an incredibly high level of safety. In addition, it has been checked by several third parties for possible weaknesses and has even received a safety certificate. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money and still want to buy a hack-proof hardware wallet, then you should go for the Ledger Nano S. Here you can read our detailed Ledger Nano S Test (click link!).
Ledger Nano X: Moderate price, but huge range of functions
Ledger introduced a new model, the Ledger Nano X, in May 2019. This hardware wallet is the company’s new flagship. The price of 119€ is clearly above the Ledger Nano S, but the new model offers far more functions.
The Nano X is slightly larger than the Nano S and some details in the design of the wallet have changed. The buttons of the hardware wallet are now located on the back and feel much better and have a better grip than on the previous model.
Another innovation is that the Nano X has a Bluetooth function. This Bluetooth connection is encrypted, so no hacker in the world can steal your assets. This means that you can easily and securely manage your Bitcoin and Ethereum via Bluetooth with your mobile phone.
As with the Nano S, you must manually confirm each transaction at the touch of a button. No matter whether you connect the Nano X to your computer (by the way, you can also communicate with your PC via Bluetooth) or to your smartphone, the connection is double- and triple-secured. The software “Ledger Live” allows a very simple and safe operation on your desktop PC or laptop.
Furthermore, it has significantly more storage space and allows the administration of more than 100 cryptocurrencies at the same time. So the Ledger Nano X offers enough storage space to manage each of your favorite currencies safely and reliably on the Nano X at the same time.
Of course as many cryptocurrencies, 1,100 pieces, are supported as with the predecessor model. The wallet is compatible with these operating systems:
- 64-bit desktop computer with Windows 8+,
- MacOS 10.8+,
- Linux, each without ARM processors,
- Smartphones with iOS 9+ or Android 7+
The body of the Nano X is much better than its predecessor and the possibility to operate the ledger via Bluetooth is a great feature that we don’t want to miss anymore. Also the administration of more than 100 cryptocurrencies at the same time is a great progress. Before it was sometimes exhausting to uninstall the different apps on the ledger just because I wanted to use a different cryptocurrency. In our opinion, this is the greatest improvement over the predecessor model.
That’s why we can definitely say that the Ledger Nano X is worth every cent! If your budget allows it and you are fluctuating between the cheaper version Nano S and the Nano X, then we would definitely choose the Nano X variant.
If you want to read our detailed Ledger Nano X review, click on this link (you’ll get directly to the review and our manual). At the moment there is a discount campaign directly at the manufacturer, where a Ledger Nano S and a Ledger Nano X can be bought at a price of 149€. This means a saving of more than 50% on the Nano S Ledger.
Ledger Nano Blue: Hardware wallet with Touchscreen
The Ledger Blue is the most expensive model from Ledger and currently costs 279.99€. This price is among other things due to the built-in color touch display, which ensures unbeatable ease of use. In addition, the Blue model is slightly larger and heavier.
Unfortunately only 11 cryptocurrencies can be managed on the Ledger Blue at the same time. Another disadvantage compared to the Nano S and Nano X is the smaller amount of cryptocurrencies that can be stored on the Ledger Blue. The Ledger Blue has a safety chip that is also built into the other models and meets the highest safety standards.
Furthermore, the wallet is also operated via the “Ledger Live” software and therefore offers a similar interface. The following operating systems are supported:
- 64-bit Windows (8+),
- 64-bit Mac OS (10.8+),
- 64-bit Linux
You will also need to purchase a USB cable to connect it to your computer. The price for this cable is 15€.
For all touch screen enthusiasts, the Ledger Blue can be a good choice, as the safety and ease of use are really strong. Nevertheless, we would rather fall back on the Nano X model with regard to our purse, because here clearly more cryptocurrencies can be administered at the same time (up to 100 pieces) and the price is significantly cheaper with 119€.
That’s just our opinion. You’ll probably still get along very well with the Ledger Blue and appreciate its ease of use once you’ve used it.
Trezor One: Great price and strong security
Just like Ledger, Trezor also offers different hardware wallets at different prices and with different functionality. The Trezor One is the cheaper version that has been on the market for several years and currently costs 69€ directly from the manufacturer. The Trezor One’s body and case are of high quality and the keys feel handy and stable. A USB connection cable is included in the scope of delivery.
Trezor One supports more than 1,000 different cryptocurrencies, all of which can be used either directly or through a third-party app. All cryptocurrencies of the Top 100 are supported, with the exception of the following digital assets:
- Ripple (XRP)
- Cardano (ADA)
- Monero (XMR)
- Tezos (XTZ)
- Zencash (ZEN)
- Metadium (META)
Often you need to use a third-party app to send your coins easily and securely to Trezor One. A complete list of all supported coins and apps can be found here (click on this link to go to the official Trezor site).
Trezor is currently expanding the scope of its own software “Trezor Bridge” significantly, so that only its own software can be used and the use of third-party vendors is a thing of the past. This is the only major disadvantage compared to Ledger’s models.
Trezor Bridge’s user interface is really clear and intuitive. The operation is excellent and without any major problems. Here we would like to emphasize the fast and effective customer support. We contacted him because we weren’t quite sure how some of the functions worked in detail. We were helped energetically and very well-founded.
Your private keys are stored on the Trezor and are therefore not vulnerable to hackers or other phishing systems present on the Internet. Overall we are very satisfied with the Trezor One and the price is really excellent. The security is strong at all times, so your coins are in good hands all around.
You can find our detailed Trezor One review by clicking on this link.
Trezor Model T: The new hardware wallet of Trezor
Just like the Ledger Blue, the new Trezor Model T has a colour touch screen that provides a great user experience and allows you to work comfortably and quickly. The price is currently around 149€ and thus significantly higher than the predecessor model.
The biggest difference is the touch display, compared to the predecessor model. The PIN and passphrase can be entered directly via the Model T and no longer via your computer or smartphone. This provides much better security, as phishing programs cannot access your Trezor and are therefore completely safe from hackers.
The model will soon be able to be used with a MicroSD card. Developers can then install bottomloaders manually. The Model T supports significantly more cryptocurrencies which can be managed directly with the help of the company’s own software “Trezor Bridge”. A total of 1,064 cryptocurrencies can currently be stored and controlled with the Trezor Model T.
Setup is child’s play and operation is also child’s play. Trezor has certainly done a good job at this point. Overall Trezor presents a compact and reliable product at a strong price. The touch screen works reliably and ensures great operation. If you have any questions, the customer support will help you very quickly and reliably, definitely an important purchase criterion.
Somewhat unfortunate is that some cryptocurrencies still require the use of third-party software. We are very satisfied with the Trezor Model T and can definitely recommend it. If you want to read our detailed review of the Trezor Model T, click on this link (you’ll get directly to the Trezor Model T Review).
Opendime Bitcoin hardware wallet
The Opendime Bitcoin hardware wallet is a special wallet that works like a USB stick and can be passed on as “cash”. The dimensions of the stick correspond to those of a normal USB stick, which fits into every small trouser pocket. Furthermore, the price for three Opendime Bitcoin Wallets is currently 37.50€.
The wallet supports only one currency so far: Bitcoin. According to statement of the manufacturer further cryptocurrencies will not follow such as Ether or XRP. Unlike conventional wallets, the private key for a sealed stick is not known to anyone, but is only assigned when the wallet is set up on the computer. To actually release the private key, a piece of the stick must be physically broken out.
Therefore the Opendime Stick can easily be passed on to other people. This gives them easy access to the available credit. This is both positive and negative. If the stick is stolen or lost, the Bitcoins cannot be accessed anymore, a total loss so to speak.
On the other hand, a simple “physical handover” can be used to forward large quantities of Bitcoin, completely anonymously and at no cost and with a trace left in the blockchain. If you are looking for a hardware wallet where you can store multiple cryptocurrencies, you should use Ledger or Trezor models.
You should also be aware that you cannot assign a PIN or recovery seed to restore your wallet in an emergency. The Bitcoin Opendime Stick is suitable for people who are looking for a USB stick with which they can easily, quickly and anonymously share their Bitcoins.
The Opendime Stick fulfils its actual function comprehensively and reliably. Operation is simple and safe. If you are looking for a wallet for exactly this purpose, then the Opendime hardware wallet is just right for you. You can find our detailed Opendime Bitcoin Wallet review under this link.
Digital BitBox Hardware Wallet / Bitbox
The Digital Box hardware wallet, now renamed Bitbox, was developed in Switzerland and currently costs 44€. The wallet is the size of a USB stick and has an unobtrusive body. Thus it remains largely unrecognised by the public and uninteresting for possible thieves.
The wallet only supports three cryptocurrencies so far: Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. The manufacturer refers on his website to the fact that only Coins are offered, which are also actively further developed. The Bitbox has a connection for a MicroSD card. Backups can be made directly via the desktop app. This process is completely encrypted and safe from hackers and phishing attacks.
Furthermore, the desktop app offers 2-factor authentication to ensure maximum security. The Bitbox has no physical buttons that can be used to manually confirm transactions. This operation is released a small touch screen on the front. By manually touching this item, transactions can be confirmed, the device reset or firmware updates installed.
Bitbox relies on open source software whose documentation can be traced at any time. Furthermore updates are delivered regularly. At the moment there is already the Bitbox 01 to buy, the Bitbox 02, the successor, is still in development.
This should then carry invisible buttons, which are operated via gesture control. This sounds really innovative and is not yet available on the market in this mode of operation. Of course we will have to wait and see how good or bad the Bitbox 02 will be in practice. Overall we are completely satisfied with the Bitbox 01. The hardware wallet works reliably and has never been hacked before. You can find our detailed test report about the Digitalbox/Bitbox 01 here.
Furthermore there are all the important functions we expect from a hardware wallet. That includes:
- 2-factor authentication
- The possibility to restore the wallet
- Clear and intuitive operation
- Unobtrusive design
ELLIPAL Cold Wallet: Hardware Wallet with Touch Display and Camera
The ELLIPAL Hardware Wallet is bigger and heavier than normal hardware wallets we have presented so far. The wallet is available in different ways to buy, the cheapest price is currently $ 149. The ELLIPAL Wallet has a 4 inch color touch display and is nearly the size of a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.
Furthermore, the device has a 5 megapixel camera with auto focus. Whether we really need these features for the storage of cryptocurrencies remains to be seen. Currently the following cryptocurrencies are supported:
A total of 23 crypto currencies and all ERC20, TRC20 and TRC10 tokens are supported: BTC, XRP, ETH, XLM, USDT, LTC, DASH, EOS, ETC, DOGE, BTG, DGB, BTX, BCD, DCR, XZC, GRS, BCH, TRX, CMT, SMART, ECA, BNB.
Many more are currently under development. That’s what these coins belong to:
The manufacturer guarantees regular updates, which are available for download once a month. New crypto currencies are delivered, which can be stored on the hardware wallet.
The value of the device is very high and it lies well in the hand. On the website of the manufacturer there is the possibility to order a metal case for the wallet to protect it from external influences. The software used by Ellipal to store your cryptocurrency is very simple and clearly arranged. We really like the interface very much.
The wallet can be operated via the ELLIPAL App with the help of your mobile phone. This means that a laptop or computer does not necessarily have to be available in order to be able to use the wallet to the full extent. We are really pleasantly surprised by this wallet and find the operation as well as the various application possibilities very good. Nevertheless, every user must decide for himself whether he needs such a large device that he also has a camera.
The secure storage of Bitcoin, ETH and XRP works wonderfully and super easy. The ELLIPAL Cold Wallet does this job safely and reliably. Take a look at our detailed test report of the ELLIPAL hardware wallet.
General information about hardware wallets
Set up the hardware wallet: First Steps
In order to avoid cheating and to ensure that your coins are stolen prematurely, you should follow these steps when purchasing and using your hardware wallet:
- Order only from reputable suppliers. Either directly at the manufacturer (our recommendation) or check the respective seller data on Amazon, Ebay or wherever you order.
- When you receive the hardware wallet, take a close look at the packaging. Is the package shrink-wrapped and also bears all the necessary seals that the manufacturer normally uses? If even the slightest damage can be seen on the packaging or the foil has been opened, do not use the hardware wallet under any circumstances but exchange it!
- Follow the manufacturer’s initial setup instructions carefully. Write down all important passwords, seeds and PIN’s as they secure your assets in case of emergency. Take all clues seriously, especially for the safekeeping of your PIN’s or seeds. You should also keep your hardware wallet in a safe place (preferably a safe).
- Even if it has already been mentioned in point 3, make a note of your Seed OFFLINE on a sheet of paper and do not save it in a text file on your PC. Files can become victims of a phishing attack. You’d just be playing into the hands of the hackers.
- If you have followed the instructions given by Ledger, Trezor or your manufacturer to set up your hardware wallet, you should now be in the user interface of your wallet. Please always make sure that you enter the correct addresses when sending and receiving your coins. It’s best to double-check and triple-check them.
If you follow these steps, you can use your hardware wallet easily and safely. Also make sure that you install new updates regularly as they fix old vulnerabilities.
With every manufacturer there are further subtleties, which you must consider when handling your hardware wallet. In each Hardware Wallet Review we show you in detail what you have to pay attention to.
How secure are Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP on your hardware wallet?
Hardware wallets are currently the most secure way to store your cryptocurrencies. More secure than desktop and smartphone wallets and much safer than keeping your coins on a exchange. Your assets are effectively protected from hackers and other attacks or malware. You eliminate these risk factors completely, because your coins are not stored on a exchange.
Nevertheless, it must be said at this point that even hardware wallets do not offer 100% security. There is no protection for every imaginable situation. Nevertheless, the use of a hardware wallet is the best solution and offers the highest security standard. Above all, you’re not protected from misuse. All transactions are one-way transactions. This means that once a transfer has been made, it cannot be undone.
Errors can occur here, for example, if you send your coins to an incorrect recipient address. In this case, your valuable cryptocurrencies are lost. Therefore, take a basic look at the operation of hardware wallets and read the detailed tutorials of the manufacturers carefully.
What should I do in case of hardware wallet theft?
What’s really important don’t panic. Even if your hardware wallet has been stolen or lost, there are still positive messages. The thieves can only access your cryptocurrencies if they know the PIN you assigned when you first set it up. The manufacturer ledger deletes the credits if the PIN is incorrectly entered three times in a row.
With the hardware wallet Trezor the time increases step by step, after each wrong input of the PIN, until you can try this step again. All in all, modern hardware wallets have many security mechanisms that protect your digital assets even if you have lost your wallet.
However, it is very important that you do not lose your seed (a sequence of 24 words that you also wrote on a secure piece of paper when you first set it up). This will allow the thieves to restore your account and access your coins.
So be very careful that your seed does not fall into the wrong hands and is kept in a safe place. If your hardware wallet has been stolen, you can still access your credit with your Seed. Therefore you have to get a new hardware wallet from the same manufacturer and reactivate it with your seed.
Then you have full access to your cryptocurrencies and can send them to a new wallet, then you are on the safe side.
Backup and restore your hardware wallet
If your hardware wallet is stolen or it has a defect, then you can restore your wallet relatively easily, shown here as an example at Ledger Blue. However, for this you need your seed, which you wrote down when you first set up your hardware wallet.
By using your Recovery Seed, you can restore the Private Keys you need to activate a new ledger. The following video shows you how fast and easy this process works in practice.
Can all hardware wallets store the same cryptocurrencies?
Here there are big differences between the models. The manufacturer Ledger and Trezor each support up to 1,000 different digital currencies, whereby there are differences in the simplicity of operation.
With Ledger, a large part of the cryptocurrencies can be stored directly on the hardware wallet without the use of a third party app, such as myetherwallet.com. Trezor, on the other hand, requires the support of a number of third-party apps so that all digital currencies can be easily stored.
Nevertheless, both hardware wallet producers support a large number of important cryptocurrencies. You can find out which these are in detail in our detailed test reports on the respective products.
Buy hardware wallet: Amazon, Ebay or directly from the manufacturer
Even though Amazon and Ebay are 100% reputable and reliable as a platform, the merchants that appear there should always be checked. Therefore it is best to buy directly from the manufacturer, also on Amazon and Ebay. This means that you must make sure that the seller is on Amazon Ledger or Trezor itself. This can simply be checked under a point below the respective product.
Furthermore, it is worth reading product reviews if a third party sells the Ledger Nano S or a Trezor. This is a good way to detect possible fraudsters at an early stage. The same applies to Ebay, of course. Here, too, the sellers, including their valuations, should be examined.
But the safest way is to buy directly from the manufacturer on the official websites ledger.fr or trezor.io. You can be 100% sure that the products have not been counterfeited or otherwise manipulated to steal your cryptocurrencies. Regardless of which supplier you order from, the packaging and the respective security seals are always checked. This protects you from nasty surprises and losses of your digital assets.
The products have to travel a long distance by post, which can damage the hardware wallets. So take your time and thoroughly check the packaging and the devices in detail – it’s worth it!
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