This is the most in-depth review ever of the best Bitcoin hardware wallets.
Did you know that back in 2018 over $927 Million worth of crypto was stolen?
That was life-changing money for many, and they could have protected it with a cryptocurrency hardware wallet.
To stop that from happening to you, we decided to write this value-packed review of the best Bitcoin hardware wallets.
Top Bitcoin Hardware Wallets Compared
|Ledger Nano S||Simple to use||$65|
|Trezor One||Strong security||$170|
|Cold Card||For cypherpunks||$79|
|Cool Wallet S||Card-shaped||$99|
Ledger Nano S Popular
Created by french security company “Ledger”, the Ledger Nano S it is one of the most trustworthy, secure, and robust hardware wallets out there.
- Very easy to use
- Proven security track record
- Doesn’t have a touch screen
Ever since the launch of the Ledger Nano S back in 2016, not a single device has been compromised.
This is largely due to the fact that the company “Ledger” works with top security auditors to identify potential security issues before a product is launched.
It’s true that back in 2018 there was a scandal where a teenager claimed to have “hacked” a Ledger device.
However, it was later proven that those claims were overstated and that the “compromised” device was actually safe at all times.
As in most hardware wallets for cryptocurrency, the Ledger Nano S also enables its users to protect the device with an 8 digit pin. This is a crucial functionality since it will keep your coins safe even if the device is ever stolen by a bad actor.
Although security is certainly the most important feature in a bitcoin hardware wallet, the Nano S also stands out for its sleek metallic design and very intuitive user interface.
Its intuitive user interface coupled with great apps developed by Ledger like “Ledger Live”, which enable you to manage your device, make the Ledger Nano S an excellent hardware wallet for beginners.
Further, Ledger Nano S also stands out for its good customer service. For the sake of this review, I opened a support ticket saying that I can’t access my Ledger Nano S device… I received a reply just 2 hours later.
All in all, the Ledger Nano S is a great device for someone that is buying their first hardware wallet. It has all the features and security standards of a top hardware wallet, while also being at the lower end of the price range with a price tag of just $65.
Ledger Nano S pictures by Naturalvita.
Ledger Nano X
Launched in early 2019, the Ledger Nano X is the latest device from the french security company “Ledger”. The device imitates what the company got right with the Ledger Nano S, while also adding some new features like Bluetooth capability.
- Ability to easily connect to the wallet via bluetooth
- Improved built
- Buttons are in a better location than in the Ledger Nano S
- The security of bluetooth in a hardware wallet is still not widely tested
- Slightly higher price than the Ledger Nano S
As pointed out in the introduction, the main feature that differentiates the Ledger Nano X from the Nano S is that it supports Bluetooth connectivity. Although this is a big step towards making hardware wallets easier to use, it may also come with a security trade off.
There have been countless cases of smartphones getting compromised due to an attack executed via Bluetooth.
Fact is, bluetooth on a hardware wallet is something that has never been tested before. Although the company Ledger is known for its high security standards, this is a point to keep in mind.
Bluetooth concerns aside, all other aspects of the device match or improve upon what the company offers in the Ledger Nano S.
The first notable point is the improved robustness of the device, where the company doubled down on the stainless steel case of the device.
Secondly, the two buttons to operate the device have also been made easier to use. While on the Ledger Nano S they are on the front of the device, the Nano X has the buttons built right next to the screen.
To conclude, with a cost of $130 this hardware wallet comes with a slightly higher price tag than the Ledger Nano S. This is understandable since this device also has more to offer, namely, the ability to easily access the device from your phone with a bluetooth connection.
Launched back in 2014, the Trezor One was the first Bitcoin hardware wallet ever and its producer “Satoshi Labs” is seen by many as a security pioneer in the cryptocurrency space.
- Highly secure
- Produced by a trusted company
- Outer case of the device is fully made of plastic
- Price tag higher than the average hardware wallet
The Trezor One is a small and compact device that fits in anyone’s pocket and can hence be easily carried around.
The device is often referred to as the most secure cryptocurrency hardware wallet out there, since it has been around for over 6 years at this point and not a single device has ever been compromised.
To use the hardware wallet, all a user has to do is connect it to his computer, open the “Trezor Bridge” (a piece of software provided by Trezor), and unlock the device by typing in a pin.
With that said, although the Trezor One stands out for its security, its built and user experience could be better.
The Trezor One outer case is fully made of plastic, which can be a problem if you ever drop the device.
Further, the “Trezor Bridge”, which is the piece of software used to operate the wallet, is not as intuitive as its equivalent on the Ledger Nano S.
To conclude, although the price tag of $170 can be a bit high considering the relatively low-end finish of the wallet, the Trezor One is still an excellent choice for more advanced cryptocurrency users that are looking for a highly secure wallet.
Beginners should think twice before considering to purchase the Trezor One vs a more intuitive wallet like the Ledger Nano S.
Trezor One pictures by IMineBlocks.
KeepKey is a Bitcoin hardware wallet introduced by crypto exchange Shapeshift. The wallet was launched back in 2015, and has since then received 270+ five-star reviews on Amazon
- Very affordable
- Built-in exchange functionality
- Solid built
- Customer support could be faster
- KeepKey supports most ERC-20 tokens, but not all of them
The intentions of Shapeshift behind this wallet are clear: offering a hardware wallet with a significantly better user experience and design than what already exists
KeepKey features a high-end screen that enables its users to intuitively navigate the wallet. Although the KeepKey wallet does have a physical button, the wallet is mostly operated from your PC (more on this below).
Further, KeepKey also has a sleek metallic finish which not only looks good, but also protects the wallet from impacts.
To operate the wallet, all a user has to do is download the KeepKey chrome extension and connect the hardware wallet to the PC through the USB port.
This is done with a cord that comes together with the wallet.
KeepKey supports hundreds of different cryptoassets, and its link to the company ShapeShift has also enabled it to offer its users a built-in exchange.
Overall, KeepKey is a great fit for people that want an affordable hardware wallet that also looks good.
The only downside I found is that their support team could be faster, but this point is strongly outweighed by the low price of just $79 per device, which makes it a very cheap Bitcoin hardware wallet.
With its retro-look and hyper focus on security, the Cold Card hardware wallet is the ultimate device for cypherpunks. The wallet is launched by CoinKite, a well known cryptocurrency security company.
- Offers powerful security features
- Unique cypherpunk design
- Only supports Bitcoin
- Not a beginner friendly wallet
The wallet is protected by a transparent plastic case, making the circuit board inside the wallet clearly visible.
Although this is a huge pro for people that love retro design, it can be a concern for others that look for extreme robustness in their Bitcoin hardware wallet.
On the contrary to most other Bitcoin hardware wallets out there, the Cold Card does not require you to download any additional software to their PC.
The wallet accepts standard PSBT transaction (BIP 174) stored on an MicroSD card.
That being said, the wallet is compatible with other major wallets like Electrum, which enables you to easily access your coins safely by using this third party software.
Another interesting security feature that makes this wallet unique is its ability to create a secondary wallet.
The company highly recommends using this secondary wallet to deposit a small amount of Bitcoin on it.
In the unlikely event that you are ever assaulted, you can give the attacker the pin to this secondary wallet, thus keeping your main holdings safe.
With a price of just $79, the Cold Card is on the lower end of the price spectrum, which is good at first.
However, the fact that the wallet only supports Bitcoin could be a deal breaker for many that also hold altcoins.
The Ledger Blue is a high-end Bitcoin hardware wallet produced by french security company “Ledger”. The wallet stands out due to its built-in touchscreen.
- Excellent touch screen
- Very intuitive to use
- Supports 1,500+ cryptocurrencies
- Expensive in comparison to other products
- Touch-screen makes the device more fragile
After its launch in 2016, the Ledger Blue wallet, another product by “Ledger”, quickly grabbed the attention of many due to its beautiful color touchscreen.
At the time of this review, it was the most sold bitcoin hardware wallet with a touch display.
However, the touch screen is not the only feature that makes the Ledger Blue stand out.
Just like all “Ledger” hardware wallets, the devices are operated with a piece of software called “Ledger Live”, which is an intuitive extension that you can use to make transactions and monitor your coins.
After you downloaded Ledger Live, all you have to do to interact with your coins is open the chrome extension and connect your Ledger Blue to your PC through your USB port.
Another major benefit of the Ledger Blue is that it supports 1,500+ different cryptocurrencies.
This is a crucial feature if you hold any coins other than Bitcoin, and also a major advantage that the Ledger Blue has to hardware wallets like Cold Card.
It is worth noting that as with all “Ledger” products, the customer support for the Ledger Blue is also excellent.
If you ever have any trouble, you can simply send an email to the support team and you will receive an answer on the same day.
All in all, the Ledger Blue is a high-quality device that will appeal to everyone that wants to intuitively and safely access their coins.
That being said, the high-end built of the Ledger Blue is also reflected on its price tag, which proudly shines the numbers $249.
Cool Wallet S
Cool Wallet S is a hardware wallet endorsed by Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin, which differentiates itself by taking an aggressive mobile first approach.
- Ability to use from a smartphone
- Intuitive to use
- Bluetooth connection can be a security concern
The Cool Wallet S takes a radically different approach to other hardware wallets.
Instead of a small device that is connected to a PC through the USB port, the Cool Wallet S resembles a bitcoin debit card and is operated with your smartphone.
To use the wallet, the first step is downloading the Cool Wallet iOS or Android app. After you downloaded the app and connected the wallet to your phone, you can now deposit some coins.
This app not only enables you to easily send and receive cryptocurrency, but it also has a built-in exchange that allows you to exchange your crypto right from within the app.
One concern that some critics have presented is that the wallet’s use of Bluetooth can be a security risk.
However, the wallet has passed 3 independent security audits and no issues were found.
The Cool Wallet S is a good fit for anyone that wants to combine the security benefits of a hardware wallet, with the convenience of a smartphone. And with a price of just $99, its a good fit for your pocket as well.
Cool Wallet S pictures by IMineBlocks.
Additional Bitcoin hardware wallets on the market
Although I have already covered the best hardware wallets for Bitcoin in this review, it’s important to note that there are indeed more devices out there that could be a good fit for you.
The reason why I didn’t include any of the following hardware wallets in the main review is either because there are controversies around the wallet, or because I feel that the company behind the wallet is not disclosing enough information about its security.
Bitfi is a hardware wallet produced by an undisclosed company which aims to improve on the user experience of existing devices.
The wallet initially gained popularity after it was heavily promoted by John McAfee, but it quickly lost it again after a report came out of a 15-year-old kid that had hacked the wallet.
Archos Safe-T Mini
Produced by gadgets producer “Archos”, the Safe-T Mini does indeed have a legitimate company behind it (unlike Bitfi). However, the company has never released any in-depth security audits that confirm that its wallet is indeed secure.
BitLox is a hardware wallet that takes a similar approach to Cold Card, by offering a wallet that feels like a debit card. At a cost of $98 and decent online reviews, it does make a good first impression.
However, as I dug deeper I also couldn’t find any security audits from reputable security firms and there is also no clear face behind the company.
What exactly is a hardware wallet?
A Bitcoin hardware wallet or cold wallet is the one that stores data away from any digital source. In the case of cryptocurrencies, they are used to keep them away from the vulnerable internet.
When your money is stored in a hot wallet, this wallet can be hacked or simply not be safe enough for other people to access your data. Some examples of hot wallets would be MyCrypto or Jaxx.
These devices not only store your money securely, but they also are very practical. Let’s imagine you lose the key to your hot wallet address, what can you do? Nothing really.
On the other hand, let’s say you lose your hardware wallet and even forget your password, you can still reset it and recover your funds without being a genius. The procedure is simple, you only have to enter your 24-word passphrase and set a new password. It is a safe and easy way to never lose access to your coins.
Benefits of using a Bitcoin Hardware wallet
Using a cryptocurrency hardware wallet makes the day-to-day life of a crypto holder much more convenient. The efficient use of wallets and the ease to perform transactions is essential for blockchain adoption.
Cold wallets such as the Ledger Nano S or the KeepKey are innovative technologies which will allow the wide use of cryptocurrencies. The benefits of using a cryptocurrency hardware wallet are the following:
- Private keys are never stored or displayed on your computer, which makes it impossible for Malware to access your confidential data.
- Hardware wallets can host multiple cryptocurrencies.
- Transactions are verified on the device, to ensure the user is physically behind the computer.
- Efficient management for private and public keys, no more confusions or documents to save your passwords.
- Cryptocurrency hardware wallets can always be reset into a new device, in case of a burglary, loss or damage you won’t have to worry about your funds.
Disadvantages of Hardware Wallets
Although hardware wallets are an excellent choice for many cryptocurrency investors, they may not be suitable for everyone. Cryptocurrency hardware wallets excel in terms of security, there are several inconveniences associated with owning or using one:
- Cryptocurrency hardware wallets can be expensive. To get your hands on a popular cryptocurrency wallet such as the Ledger Nano S or Trezor One, you can expect to spend north of $65. While this may be suitable for some, it is simply out of budget for many crypto owners.
- Although hardware wallets are regularly touted as being portable, they are still less practical than software wallets and web wallets, since these can be accessed from almost anywhere.
- Practically all hardware wallets offer a recovery phrase backup system to recover your funds should your wallet be lost. However, if you lose your recovery phrase too, your funds are gone for good. While this might seem obvious, some centralized wallet providers such as exchanges can often restore access to your funds, even after losing your login information.
- Not all cryptocurrencies are supported, and newer digital assets tend to take some time before supported is added. If you’re somebody who regularly handles new cryptocurrencies, then you may need to wait some time before you can store these on your hardware wallet.
- In addition, though cryptocurrency hardware wallets do offer the gold standard in security, this does come at the cost of convenience, since sending payments from funds stored on a hardware wallet is more involved than doing so from a standard web wallet.
Key features of Hardware Wallets
Distinguishing hardware wallets from other types of wallets is usually an easy task, since they are often small, external devices that somewhat resemble a USB drive or external HDD.
However, looking at the individual parts, it becomes clear that hardware wallets are carefully constructed devices built to achieve a single purpose — maximum security.
To help navigate the device, most hardware wallets include a small screen, which is used to display the user interface and device dashboard. Using the screen, hardware wallet users are able to navigate and open apps, verify addresses and modify device settings, all without exposing your data to external devices.
Barring a few exceptions, most hardware wallets are designed to be as small possible, in an effort to maximize portability. This small size usually results in hardware wallets being relatively fiddly — something several wallets have to avoid through the addition of a touch screen.
By adding a touch screen, these wallets tend to be more user-friendly than those that use buttons for navigation, making them suitable for those transitioning from software wallets.
Hardware wallets are designed to be an extremely secure way to secure your cryptocurrencies, helping to protect your cryptocurrency portfolio from any external threats.
The way this is achieved varies between hardware wallet, but can include using a physically isolated secure chip, as in Ledger devices, and/or top-notch encryption to ensure your private keys never leave your device.
The great majority of cryptocurrency hardware wallets connect to your computer via USB. However, as of late 2018, there are now several hardware wallets that offer Bluetooth connectivity, allowing owners to wirelessly manage their cryptocurrency portfolio.
Since Bluetooth-enabled hardware wallets remain relatively new, they have not been as battle-tested as standard USB-connected wallets. Because of this, it remains to be seen if convenience comes at the cost of security.
How We Picked the Best Hardware Wallets
We judge the devices on different characteristics. Some cryptocurrency hardware wallets might not include the features you are looking for, others could be way out of your price range, that is why at CoinDiligent we always rate products on their essential characteristics.
In cryptocurrency hardware wallets, we rate based on the following:
Security is the most important feature for a cryptocurrency hardware wallet since that is probably the first reason you had in mind to consider buying one. By storing your coins on a cold wallet, you remove all kind of connection between the exposed computer and your money.
Human interaction is required to connect the device and to further unlock the device. Thieves won’t be able to steal the coins unless they physically own the device.
Once you own the right cryptocurrency hardware wallet and start using it, there is a sensation no hot wallet will ever make you feel. The feeling of easy-access to your coins and safety it provides makes the user more confident in the use of cryptocurrencies. We rate cold wallets on the level of simplicity they provide for the ordinary user.
Characteristics such as elegance can only be judged by the user himself. We want everyone to feel comfortable around their cold wallet, that is why we focus our ratings on the most essential points.
Every user has a different budget and financial position, we make sure the best cryptocurrency hardware wallets displayed are affordable for everyone. A lot of people in the cryptocurrency space are here to make money, so let’s keep making money and only spend it on the products with the best Price-Quality ratio.
Nowadays, everyone wants to have a beautiful phone, a modern computer, etc. These small details give hints to people about your personality. Well, the same thing goes for cryptocurrency hardware wallets.
Some people just feel like a ledger-kind-of-person, or others would feel like a trezor-kind-of-person, everyone is different and should have a wide range of choices. The design is a very difficult category to rate, however, we usually base these evaluations on what the majority of our community thinks.
Customer Service or Customer Support is very significant in the use of cryptocurrency hardware wallets. We are all learning every day, and in case we just don’t know what to do, it is fabulous to have a specialist just one phone call or email away. This support that the company offers is essential for new members to join the community, therefore it is essential for global adoption of cryptocurrencies.
What happens if a crypto hardware wallet company goes out of business?
Even if the company that created your hardware wallet goes out of business, that does not render your funds inaccessible.
First of all, you can be sure that the company will make multiple announcements before shutting down its software platform if it were to go out of business.
Secondly, if you have the recovery words for your cryptocurrency hardware wallet then you can use them to restore your wallet on any software or hardware wallet that supports BIP-39 mnemonic code.
What does Reddit say about hardware wallets?
In case you’re not familiar with Reddit, it’s a massive forum community that is frequented by cryptocurrency enthusiasts.
Many people check Reddit before buying a hardware wallet because it’s a good source for honest opinions.
Therefore, to make this guide as valuable as possible, I decided to include some statements from Reddit about certain cryptocurrency hardware wallets.
Ledger Nano S Reddit
Trezor One Reddit
How to find the right crypto hardware wallet for you?
To find a hardware wallet for altcoins and Bitcoin that suits your needs best, you need to think of one characteristic that you care about the most. Three popular ones are a proven security history, convenience and ease of use, and a cypherpunk feel.
|Key Feature||Debit Card||Buy Now|
|Simplicity||Ledger Nano S|
|Proven Security||Trezor One|
|Cypherpunk feel||Cold Card|
Alexander has worked in community growth for multiple cryptocurrency companies. He is now the Sales and Operations Manager for CoinDiligent. In his free time, he writes articles sharing his industry insights. You can get in touch with Alexander on LinkedIn.