Hardware Wallet Review
What are they? Why are they important? Which one is best?
What Is a Hardware Wallet?
First, you may hear these referred to as hardware wallets, cold wallets, or crypto wallets. They all are referring to the same thing, just worded differently. A hardware wallet is a secure physical device that stores your private keys which authorize incoming and outgoing transactions on the blockchain. When you own crypto, what you actually own is a private key. Your tokens are associated with a set of public/private keys. Your tokens don’t actually physically exist, not even when using a hardware wallet. Hardware wallets store and keep your private keys secure.
One of the most common misconceptions about hardware wallets is that your coins or tokens are stored on the wallet. This is actually not true, your hardware wallet just stores your private keys or seed phrase to your wallet address securely.
Think of a hardware wallet like a padlock to your wallet address, you personally have to unlock it to allow the blockchain to send or receive transactions to your wallet address. Hardware wallets also require you to “sign” or approve all transactions you make on the physical device before they are processed, this is another way of them being highly secure and making sure no one can hack your wallet.
Why Are Hardware Wallets Important?
There is a multitude of reasons as to why you should have a hardware wallet. The main reason is, you have your money invested in crypto, do you want it to be susceptible to being hacked or stolen? If your answer is no to this question, then you should 100% own a hardware wallet.
There are two types of wallets out there currently. A Hot Wallet which is your typical online crypto wallet, if you use MetaMask, WalletConnect or TrustWallet and don’t have it connected to a hardware wallet then you are using a Hot Wallet. Hot wallets are connected to the internet, and they can be highly vulnerable to phishing or hacking attempts.
Then there is a Cold Wallet, cold wallet is just another term for a hardware wallet, these wallets don’t connect to the internet, are highly secure and make it very hard for them to be hacked. If you have funds that you want to make sure are secure, you will need a hardware wallet.
Since hardware wallets are encrypted and operate offline they significantly reduce their exposure to hackers. When owning a hardware wallet, you also have to sign and approve every transaction you make on the physical device. This makes it very hard for your funds to be accessed or stolen because someone would actually need to physically have access to your hardware wallet, know the pin number to get into it and then approve transactions to steal your funds.
Where as with a Hot Wallet, if you sign a transaction on MetaMask to a site that maybe an imitation or a phishing site, hackers can wipe out your whole account without your approval or signing of transactions. This can happen swiftly and without your knowledge and you could check back in on your account and be left with nothing and have no way of retrieving your funds. I have seen many, many people get burned and lose hundreds of thousands of dollars due to not keeping their wallets secure.
You can get a hardware wallet for as cheap as $49, if you are trading more than $50 worth of crypto, it is more than worth it to pick up a hardware wallet.
I have tested 4 different hardware wallets over the last several months and I will be breaking down each of these wallets individually and discussing the pros and cons and which wallet I like the best after using each of these for an extended period of time.
Which Hardware Wallet is Best?
The four wallets I will be reviewing are the GridPlus Lattice1, Ledger Nano X, Ellipal Titan, and SafePal wallet.
GridPlus Lattice1 - Best Hardware Wallet
I’ve been using the GridPlus wallet as my daily driver for several weeks now and it has been fantastic! This wallet is far and above my favorite hardware wallet I have ever used. One of the biggest and best features about this wallet is its intergration with MetaMask. The majority of crypto users use MetaMask so having the ability to connect the GridPlus wallet to MetaMask and still have a familiar experience to what I had when using a Hot Wallet but at the same time knowing my crypto is secure has been a great feeling.
Another great benefit is the screen, if you are one that wants to read all the details about the transaction before hitting approve, the screen on the GridPlus makes it very easy to read and review before approving your transactions. Most other wallets don’t give you the ability to read this information in an easy way.
One of the coolest features of this wallet is the SafeCard, you can store your wallet addresses on a SafeCard, which looks exactly like a credit card. This is where your private key/seed phrase can be stored, you can also store it on the device as well. The reason I really like this feature is because I personally like my hardware wallet to be extra secure, with my Ledger, I used to store it in a safe in my closet. With the GridPlus, its a bigger device and sits on your desk so thats not really a convenient option. However, with the SafeCard, I can store the SafeCard in my safe, then go grab it anytime I need it, stick it in the machine and conduct my transactions. You have to have the SafeCard inserted into the GridPlus to conduct any transactions unless you load your wallet onto the device itself.
-Easy to Use
-Setup was a breeze
The only drawback to the GridPlus wallet is the price. This wallet will definitely be considered on the high end as it is about double or triple the cost of most other wallets on the market. If you want to pick up a GridPlus hardware wallet, it will run you about $397. Personally, I think it is a worthwhile investment into securing your crypto, however I understand it may not be for everyone. There are other options on the market that can do most of what the GridPlus wallet can do at a much lower price.
Overall, this has been my favorite wallet I have used to date. It does everything I need it to and the setup and ease of use has been great.
Ledger Nano X - Great Cheaper Alternative to GridPlus
I utilized my Ledger Nano X as my daily driver for a while before I retired it for my GridPlus wallet. I’m sure most of you have heard of the Ledger wallets before as Ledger and Trezor tend to be the leading brands when it comes to hardware wallets. I am a huge MetaMask fan and user so the main reason I purchased this wallet was because of its MetaMask integrations. Some of the things I really liked about this wallet is its ease of use and how quickly I was able to get started with it. I connected it to my MetaMask account in a matter of minutes and was ready to hit the ground running.
One of the benefits right off the bat with the Ledger wallet is it’s price, especially after discussing the GridPlus. You can pick up a Ledger Nano X for about $150. The other benefit is availability, if you needed one quickly, you could just take a quick trip down to your local Best Buy and pick one up. Out of the 4 wallets I have used, the Ledger was the easiest one to get a hold of. You can also buy them from Amazon and utilize that 2 day prime shipping.
Some of the downfalls of the Ledger in my opinion is its clunky interface and limited functionality. As you may see from the picture above, the screen on the Ledger is about 1 inch. Very small, this makes reading and approving transactions a pain because you have to click through pages and pages of the transaction to get to the approval or read through what you are approving. This is one reason the GridPlus shines through over the Ledger.
Another challenge with the Ledger is the buttons, you have only two buttons, one on the left side of the ledger and one on the right side of the Ledger. So anytime you use the Ledger, you have to enter your PIN, to do this you have to hit up/down on the buttons to select each number manually then do that for all 6 digits then submit…every.single.time. Those of you that are old enough to remember T9 texting understand my pain with this. Again, this is another huge leg up for the GridPlus as its touchscreen so entering your pin takes milliseconds not minutes every time you want to use it.
-Ease of Use
-Lack of Screen
-Buttons to Interact
Overall, I liked my Ledger and it would have stayed as my daily driver had I not stumbled upon the GridPlus. One thing I would say, if you are a MetaMask user, just get the Ledger Nano S for $59.99 rather than the Ledger Nano X for $149.99. The main difference is the X has bluetooth and the S doesn’t. Since MetaMask mobile doesn’t work with hardware wallets, having the bluetooth feature is pointless.
Ellipal Titan - Cool Concept, Poor Execution
I really thought this wallet was going to be cool. I wanted to like it, but it was just not possible. I originally purchased this wallet because of the touchscreen functionality and mainly because I was tired of the archaic button process of my Ledger. I thought, oh cool, a touchscreen wallet this is going to be awesome.
Well, it wasn’t, to be fair, a lot of people really enjoy this wallet but for me it just wasn’t a good fit. For starters, Ellipal does not have MetaMask integration, so that already was an issue, but I thought, it’s ok I will see what they have and how it will work. To preface, one of the main reasons I like MetaMask so much is because you only need one wallet address for all your transactions regardless of what network they are on. With Ellipal, you get a separate wallet address for every network. So if you are sending Bitcoin, Ethereum, Avalanche, Fantom, each one of those you have a different wallet address for. This was already a deal breaker for me.
The other problem I have, is this wallet touchscreen is horrendous. Think about when smartphones were first coming out like 2007-2008 and how bad the touchscreens were at that time. That is how the touchscreen is on the Ellipal Titan. Also, this wallet is running some version of Android, also think back like ten years ago when Android was first coming out, thats about what version of Android this wallet is running.
-Nice Dock Feature
-Easy to Setup
-Quality of Touchscreen
-Slow and clunky software
-No MetaMask integration
-Different Wallet address for different networks
I can definitely see how someone on the go or doing most of their transactions on mobile would really like this wallet and could get good use out of it. For me, someone that is in an office most of the day on a desktop computer and primarily uses MetaMask for everything, it just wasn’t a good fit.
SafePal Wallet - Good for Mobile Users
I had heard quite a few good things about SafePal and decided to pick one up and see for myself. One of the first things that drew me to the SafePal wallet was its form factor and price. The SafePal wallet is just a little thicker than a credit card so it is very easy to take with you. Also you can pick one of these wallets up for only $49. This makes SafePal one of the cheapest options out there for new users.
The setup process for the SafePal wallet was fairly straight forward and easy to do. Just download the SafePal app, connect it to the wallet via QR Code and boom, you are setup.
Some of the same downfalls of the Ellipal Titan wallet hit the SafePal wallet as well. Primarily around MetaMask integration, currently SafePal is not compatible with MetaMask so this again for me, was not going to be a great fit from the start.
I did like the fact that the SafePal wallet wasn’t touchscreen but had a directional pad and select button on the front of the device. This made it fairly easy to access and login to the device as well as navigate the different menus on the device.
I guess $49 is only going to get you so far, but the device felt cheap to me, the external enclosure was all made out of plastic and I felt like if I had this thing in my back pocket and sat on it, it will break, which I guess if you are only paying $49 it is to be expected.
-Easy to Setup
-Nice Menu Navigation
-Seamless connection to App
-No MetaMask integration
-Camera on back is poor quality
Overall, I think the SafePal wallet is great for mobile users on the go. I would choose this wallet over the Ellipal Titan for that matter. Interface is smooth and easy to use, app works correctly and is easy to navigate. I’d like to see SafePal maybe make a premium version of this wallet that is metal and sell it for $99, not a fan of the plastic cheap feel for something that is storing my crypto keys. Also, if in the future they made a sturdier model and integrated MetaMask, this wallet would be a homerun.
This concludes my article on hardware wallets. I hope you got some good information out of it, and if you don’t already have a hardware wallet you plan to get one in the near future to help secure your investment.
I will be giving away my Ellipal Titan and SafePal wallets on Twitter in the near future. So if you want to get in on those giveaways be sure to follow me on Twitter.