HTC has announced a smartphone this week powered by blockchain technology, called Exodus. The phone will include a secure hardware enclave designed for cryptocurrencies and decentralised applications. The Exodus phone also has a universal wallet, which will support Bitcoin, Ethereum, Lightning Networks, Dfinity and other major cryptocurrencies. Users will be able to send and receive crypto payments, with each device acting as a node for crytocurrency trading.
Security and privacy seem like hallmarks of the device, with the Exodus site promising that users will be able to ‘have your identity and data on the phone rather than in a centralised cloud.’ The promise of decentralised apps is also interesting, as these open source and autonomous apps should be more secure running on the Exodus than other smartphones.
HTC’s Phil Chen, who announced the smartphone in a Medium blog post, said that the Exodus smartphone was just one part of a greater movement towards autonomy and consumer data rights:
“I want to see a world where the end consumers can truly own their data (browsing history, identity, assets, wallets, emails, messaging, etc) without the need for central authorities. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but I believe the mobile hardware layer can contribute significantly to our new decentralized world.”
HTC have long been innovators in mobile tech: they made the first Android smartphone, the first Nexus device, the first Facebook phone, the first 4G phone, the first 1080p smartphone, the first Pixel phone… the list goes on and on. Therefore, it’s not too surprising to see them to be the first major smartphone maker to create a blockchain-powered smartphone.
However, given the company’s recent financial woes, it’s not entirely certain that the Exodus will make it to market and be supported long enough for it to become a market-leader. HTC’s competitors are always nipping at their heels, and if the blockchain smartphone concept takes off, expect to see more popular iterations from the likes of Samsung and LG.
At the moment, we still don’t know a lot about this smartphone: the Exodus has no price, no release date, no list of specifications, not even a render of what it will look like — just a basic schematic of its components. While the appearance of this phone isn’t its defining feature, it does suggest that the Exodus is still at a very early level of development.
Hopefully, HTC are serious about creating this phone and not just trying to capitalise on the next big buzzword in smartphone design after ‘AI’. The return of Vive creator Phil Chen as HTC’s ‘decentralised chief officer’ seems to indicate that the phone is something of a priority, but anything could happen before the phone actually materialises.
HTC aren’t the only ones working on a blockchain-powered smartphone either. Huawei announced late last year that it was working with Swiss firm Sirin Labs to create the $999 Finney smartphone. While this smartphone seems better fleshed out—the official page includes actual specifications and renders—a release date has yet to be set and little news about it has been released.
At this stage, being the first blockchain-friendly smartphone on the market is still an open contest—HTC and Huawei might still be pipped to the post by an as-of-yet unannounced competitor. The only thing to do is wait and see which concept makes the jump to an actual retail product.