12 Days of #BTChristmas, Ep. 3: HTC Exodus 1S

Back in October 2019, I was really excited to find out about the launch of a smartphone which natively allows users to run a Bitcoin full node. Sovereignty on the go is a noble pursuit and one that’s truly worthwhile.

But after I finally received a review unit of the HTC Exodus 1S (thank you, Phil Chen & HTC), I wrote a bittersweet article for Bitcoin Magazine. On one hand, I was happy that the device exists and you can sync the entire blockchain on it. On the other hand, I wasn’t happy with the lack of integrations for the node and the absence of SegWit and the Lightning Network.

A year later, the situation has improved a little bit. An update for the HTC Zion environment has added SegWit support and has enabled some optimizations for the initial block download (IBD).

But there are still improvements to be made. From the Zion password typing system to the lack of Lightning Network integrations, HTC can really polish the Bitcoin experience. I also did not understand why a Bitcoin phone has more Ethereum features and chooses to include collectibles management instead of working with sidechain and second layer developers. There is so much untapped potential in this device, yet the development explores territories that are unrelated with the marketing for the Exodus 1S phone and the capabilities of a full node.

At 220 euro (260 USD), is the phone worth it as a 2020 BTChristmas gift? Sure, it’s one of the nicest instruments for individual financial sovereignty. Just be aware that the node is locked in the HTC Zion ecosystem, there is no compatibility with third party wallets, and sometimes you can’t even do something as basic as creating another receiving address.

Though a power user feature is included (running a Bitcoin node), everything else appears to be aimed at newbies. Which is definitely an interesting paradox, as there is so much more that can get added. Coin control (UTXO management), the ability to type commands in the node console, native Tor routing, receiving address labelling and management, and Lightning Network channel opening and management.

Instead of dividing its efforts in multiple directions and supporting more DeFi projects, the HTC Exodus team should just focus on getting the Bitcoin wallet right. There’s a lot of useful open source code that they can use from other wallets such as Blue Wallet and ABCore, and it shouldn’t be too hard to integrate everything in the native UI/UX.

So if you also have the HTC Exodus 1S, please support my advocacy and contact the manufacturer. Maybe that they will complete their work and finally deliver the complete Bitcoin financial sovereignty package. Given the hardware capabilities and the low cost, it’s a pity that the device hasn’t taken off yet. But who knows, we can always expect a #BTChristmas miracle, right?

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Vlad Costea

I'm here for the freedom, censorship-resistance, and unconfiscatability. What about you?

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