Everyone loves a get-rich-quick scheme, and the increasing volatility of fiat currencies has made jumping on the Bitcoin bandwagon a more exciting proposition than ever. But even a blockchain is only as strong as its weakest link, and protecting your digital goods requires more than a password and a prayer. Getting the best hardware wallet you can afford will all but guarantee the safety of your precious Satoshis and stop would-be hackers in their tracks.
Let’s see what hardware crypto wallets 2021 has in store for us.
- No limits on the number of different cryptos
- Built-in cryptocurrency exchange platform
- Open-source software
- Lightweight and easy to set up
- Supports a massive number of cryptocurrencies
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Best-in-class touchscreen
- Native integration with ShapeShift marketplace
- User-friendly design
- Military-grade security measures
- Cross-platform compatibility
- Phenomenal build
Trezor Model T
Trezor Model T is the flagship model from SatoshiLabs, harnessing the company’s almost decade-long experience in making secure wallet solutions for crypto enthusiasts. Featuring top privacy and security features, a 240×240 px RGB touchscreen, and plenty of additional tools, it’s easily one of the best online cryptocurrency wallet solutions on the market today.
For people in the know, the Trezor line of products from SatoshiLabs is pretty much synonymous with security, and its secure cryptocurrency wallet selection has been one of the best in the industry for nearly a decade. In fact, the very first hardware or cold storage Bitcoin wallet was a Trezor model released way back in August of 2014. The company has since only perfected the design, and today we look at probably its most popular model, the Trezor Model T.
The Model T comes packaged in a simple box that contains the wallet itself, a USB cable, a magnetic dock, a card for writing down your recovery seed code, and some stickers for the die-hard fans to chuck on their computer case. As with the best Bitcoin wallets, it also features a handy seal on the USB port, which can tip you off if the device has been tampered with. The USB connection uses the latest USB-C standard and the device comes with a MicroSD slot that allows you to have some encrypted onboard storage on your Trezor wallet.
Let’s talk security. First off, you’ll be glad to know that the Trezor Model T comes with a custom Trezor Core operating system, running on a 168 MHz Cortex-M4 processor embedded on a STM32 F4 microcontroller. It features both a universal two-factor authentication system and FIDO2 authentication, as well as GPG encryption. As a contender for the safest Bitcoin wallet around, it also features Shamir backup, a more secure method of splitting the recovery seed into multiple unique shares. By default, it’s set to use 20-word shares (128-bit) protection, but you can extend that to 33-word (256-bit) if you feel you need the added protection.
In addition to the standard PIN code, you can also use Trezor to store a variety of other passwords, and, providing you get a MicroSD card, other important files you need encrypted as well. The device features a nice upgrade on the classic Trezor One model: a full color 240×240 px touchscreen, which is a rare luxury even for the best cold wallet models around. As handy as the screen is, we do have to note that it’s rather tiny, which could perhaps cause problems for people with large hands or fingers.
Speaking of problems, we thankfully didn’t run into any while using the device. If you do, the company’s site has an extensive help center with in-depth FAQ articles and email support. While you won’t get live chat or phone support, Trezor has amazing fan communities on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, where you’ll be able to get help very quickly.
Finally, let’s talk about price and compatibility. The $169.99 device natively supports Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android systems and comes with CE and RoHS certification. It currently supports a massive selection of more than 1,000 cryptocurrencies, including even more obscure ones such as Tezos and Cardano.
Is the Trezor Model T the best hardware wallet in 2021? We certainly think it makes for a strong candidate. The industry-leading security features, a slick and minimalist design, and plenty of useful extras all combine to form a supremely useful device. The small screen may make typing difficult for people with large hands, and the price is certainly fairly steep, but we feel like these are minor flaws compared to the overall quality of the package offered.
Ledger Nano X
The Nano X is a strong challenger to Trezor’s Model T as the best choice for your Bitcoin cold wallet needs. This is the premium model from Ledger – a company that has been around since 2014 – so you can expect top-shelf security features, great design, and support for just about any cryptocurrency you can think of.
Much like SatoshiLabs, Ledger is a company that’s almost synonymous with hardware wallets, and its Bitcoin wallet security has always been one of the benchmarks against which other similar devices are measured. While the Nano S is the company’s budget model, the Nano X represents the best hardware wallet Ledger has to offer currently.
Compared to the Trezor Model T’s bulky frame, Ledger’s Nano X looks fairly slim in its USB thumbstick form factor. That said, it’s a fair bit bigger than the Nano S, which makes its two buttons much easier to click reliably. The device comes with fairly basic equipment, including a USB-C cable, a keychain strap, three recovery sheets, and a couple of stickers.
Installation is pretty simple, though you will have to go through the process of entering both your PIN and your 24-word seed phrase before you can use the device. The Nano X is probably the best crypto wallet for easy smartphone connection through Bluetooth, and you can control the device from the Ledger Live app on both mobile and desktop devices. While very useful in theory, security concerns mean that every important action has to be confirmed on the device as well, or you run the risk of potential security breaches.
Speaking of security, the wallet is CC EAL5+ certified, using a dual-chip setup with one MCU chip (STM32WB55) and one Secure Element (ST33) chip. The software is also tailor-made for the device. It also uses both a universal two-factor authentication system and FIDO2 authentication.
Bitcoin wallet reviews often stress the importance of user experience. Our primary concerns here are the somewhat unintuitive user interface and the clunkiness of using the Bluetooth connection. To be fair, Ledger provides an excellent set of guides on its website, and the Ledger Live app certainly streamlines the process of crypto trading.
Speaking of that, just like the Trezor models, Ledger’s hardware wallet supports pretty much any cryptocurrency you can think of. It also runs on just about any operating system of note, from Windows and macOS through iOS and Android, and even Linux.
Compared to our other best Bitcoin cash wallet contender – the Trezor Model T – the Nano X is a much cheaper device, coming in at $119. That said, it doesn’t feature a fancy RGB touchscreen like the Trezor, and costs double the price of Ledger’s base Nano S model. To be fair, it also comes with a better screen, longer battery life, and a larger storage capacity.
Finally, let’s talk about customer support. Ledger offers dedicated support from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. CET, Monday through Friday each week. Unfortunately there’s no live chat or phone option, so you’re restricted to making contact via email or the dedicated Twitter support page.
Ledger’s Nano X may not be a perfect device, but it is one of the best BTC wallets around nonetheless. It represents the perfect hardware wallet for crypto enthusiasts who love the added versatility of a Bluetooth connection. With premium security and privacy features for a price that will not break the bank, our only real complaint is the clunkiness of the user interface, which is much more intuitive on devices such as Trezor Model T.
KeepKey is a robust hardware wallet with bank-grade security features and a user-friendly interface. It includes native ShapeShift platform integration, supports all of the major cryptocurrencies, and comes at a very attractive price to boot.
KeepKey has been around for almost as long as Trezor and Ledger. The new owner of the proprietary hardware, ShapeShift, is also the owner of the popular digital asset trading platform of the same name, which KeepKey is fully integrated with. While not as popular or well-supported by the community as the aforementioned devices, it is perhaps the best online Bitcoin wallet for new and inexperienced crypto users.
First things first: while it’s beautifully designed, there’s no escaping the fact that KeepKey is a biggun. Measuring at 38 x 93.5 x 12.2 mm, it easily dwarfs most competitors, making it somewhat impractical for carrying around in your pocket. The beautiful 256×64 px OLED screen, anodized aluminum casing and polycarbonate front do make it feel smaller than it really is, though, and if design was the only consideration we had we’d definitely pick KeepKey as our top cryptocurrency wallet of choice.
The device comes with a woven nylon USB cable and a recovery sentence backup card for writing down your recovery seed, along with a beautiful leather case for storing that card later. There’s also a KeepKey seal, which ensures that you are the first person to open the packaging. Installation is pretty straightforward, although you’ll need to download the KeepKey client from the Chrome Web store, as Firefox is currently not supported.
In terms of security, one notable omission is multi-factor authentication, a feature found on the best BTC wallet offerings on the market. On the other hand, KeepKey uses the Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) method for generating public keys, which creates random pairs of keys from a master seed. This means that every transaction can be completed with a different public key, bolstering your anonymity while trading.
In terms of hardware, the device runs on an ARM® Cortex™ M3 processor and uses a TRNG (true random number generator). It does not use an operating system, working instead with the software on your computer, which also makes it compatible with software wallet solutions such as Electrum and Mycelium.
KeepKey may just be the best Bitcoin wallet for beginners. The user experience is fantastic thanks to its lovely OLED screen, the intuitive interface of its proprietary app and the overall slick yet sturdy design of the device. It also helps that while you won’t be able to trade every cryptocurrency known to man, more than 40 of the most popular ones are all supported, and trading is made very simple and intuitive through integration with the ShapeShift platform.
Let’s talk about price and customer support. While the former represents excellent value at $79, the latter definitely doesn’t stack up too favorably in our crypto wallet comparison.
Your only option for support is a ticket system with often slow response times and a lean FAQ section on the site. Considering that the community support is nowhere near Trezor and Ledger levels, KeepKey users simply have to deal with worse overall support in case of any potential problems.
All things considered, KeepKey represents a fantastic deal. While it is less popular and community-supported than Trezor and Ledger wallets, it offers comparable security features (minus multi-factor authentication). It is also the easiest Bitcoin wallet to use, which is no small consideration for new crypto enthusiasts. It also happens to be arguably the best-looking wallet for BTC and other cryptocurrencies.
SecuX STONE V20
While the STONE V20 may not be the best hardware wallet for altcoins around, it’s certainly in the top five. Although farless famous than competitors from Trezor and Ledger, the STONE lineup of hardware wallets provides a compelling alternative, offering great security features, an attractive design, and compatibility with just about any device out there.
SecuX is one of the newest blockchain security companies on our list, having only been on the market for about three years now. Despite this, it has managed to gather a very solid following, largely thanks to its excellent STONE line of secure hardware wallets. V20 represents the pinnacle of their offer, and offers an attractively designed, richly featured crypto wallet that provides serious competition to its more established peers.
When it comes to design, the STONE V20 makes a strong case for being the top Bitcoin wallet around. The sleek diamond shape, brushed aluminum backside, and massive 2.8” color touchscreen put the likes of the Trezor Model T and Ledger Nano X to shame, especially when it comes to screen real estate. We truly cannot stress enough just how much better the large screen on the V20 is to use compared to the competition.
The packaging is pretty standard, with a tamper-proof seal covering the USB-C port, cards to write your recovery seed phrases on, a carrying case, a USB cable, and a user manual. Installation is very straightforward, but just as with KeepKey, the company’s proprietary SecuXcess web platform works only on Google Chrome.
What is the best Bitcoin wallet if not the most secure one around? Thankfully, the V20 doesn’t disappoint here, either. The device uses a CC EAL 5+ certified secure element chip called Solid Flash, made by the German company Infineon. There are also regular firmware updates and the wallet allows you to create 12-, 18-, or 24-word recovery codes.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, user experience is where the V20 shines. The fantastic touchscreen is just part of it, though. Just like Ledger’s Nano X, the V20 comes with Bluetooth support for controlling your wallet remotely through a smartphone or tablet. This makes it one of the best mobile crypto wallet solutions too, especially considering that the Bluetooth setup is more intuitive than on the Nano X.
The V20 runs on just about every operating system and device out there, including Linux. Unfortunately, customer support is limited to email for all users regardless of the platform, and this is one area where we feel SecuX can definitely improve. Another area for improvement is crypto support. While the big hitters such as BTC, Ether, and many variants of the ERC-20 tokens are supported, the company is looking to expand to more non-ERC-20 coins in the future.
In terms of price, you’re looking at $139.99 for the V20, putting it squarely in between its two best multi-cryptocurrency wallet competitors: the $169.99 Model T from Trezor and the $119 Nano X from Ledger. SecuX also offers cheaper models with the $119 W20 and $69 W10, but we’ll cover those in another review, perhaps.
As with every device on our review roundup, the STONE V20 is a fantastic piece of kit. It offers far and away the best touchscreen of any competitor on our list, excellent Bluetooth connectivity, and military-grade security features; the only things holding it back from true greatness are the limited cryptocurrency and customer support available at the moment.
BitBox02 is a safe wallet made by the Swiss cybersecurity company Shift Cryptosecurity AG. It offers a lightweight and minimalist alternative to larger wallets such as STONE V20 and KeepKey while maintaining similar advanced security features.
The battle for the best online crypto wallet would seem strange without a Swiss security company getting in on the action. BitBox02 is the second-generation cold wallet for Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies offered by Zurich-based Shift Cryptosecurity AG. It packs top security features into an extremely lightweight and portable package and is a great miniature alternative to bulky competitors such as KeepKey and STONE V20.
The BitBox02 comes packaged in a tamper-proof vacuum-sealed bag that contains a surprising amount of gear. In addition to the device itself and a standard USB extension cable, you’ll find a USB-C to USB Type A converter, an 8 GB MicroSD card, and some labelling stickers.You also get a warranty and a compliance card, of course, as well as a manual to help you get started.
As with the best hardware wallet offerings on the market. BitBox02 comes with some excellent security chops. It only accepts firmware from its parent company and doesn’t allow rollbacks. It also uses a monotonic counter to prevent brute force attacks, and the 24-word seed phrase is generated by using multiple entropy sources. You can also count on FIDO-compliant U2F authentication for added protection. The company uses a ATSAMD51J20A microcontroller and an ATECC608A secure chip combined with a true random number generator.
The initial setup for the device is quick and painless, and the device works on all major operating systems other than iOS at the moment. The app itself has a pretty intuitive interface, making BitBox02 one of the best wallets for cryptocurrency newbies on the market. The app itself comes with several advanced features, such as support for the Segwit Bech32 address format that saves you money on transfer fees, multi-language support, optional coin control for tighter control over what data you share through blockchain, and even onboarding through a well-designed step-by-step guide.
Unfortunately, the extreme portability of the device also comes with a significant tradeoff: the tiny screen is nowhere near as comfortable to use as that on its larger siblings such as the STONE V20 and KeepKey’s model.
BitBox02 supports more than 1,500 cryptocurrencies. However, these are mostly ERC-20 tokens, along with Bitcoin and Litecoin. There is even a version that works only with Bitcoin, though we question the reasoning behind this, considering both models cost $132.
Is BitBox02 the best Bitcoin desktop wallet around? No, probably not. Is it a valid contender to the other, bigger name products that we’ve covered in this review round-up? Definitely. The tiny form factor can be both a blessing and a curse, and the same can be said about the heavy ERC-20 token focus.
While there are more than 1,500 supported cryptocurrencies, only Bitcoin and Litecoin are not ERC-20-based. Overall, we still feel that it’s a great device that offers excellent security and supreme portability. It’s just that other competitors may offer more for the price at this moment.
What Are Hardware Wallets?
Hardware wallets are a type of cold storage for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. As you may already be aware, cold storage refers to the fact that this type of storage solution doesn’t connect directly to the internet. Instead, it connects only when it needs to, i.e. when you are actively making crypto transactions.
Paper storage is a type of cold storage in which you rely on writing your private encryption keys on a piece of paper or storing them on a simple USB thumb drive. Hardware wallets are dedicated devices used for the same purpose of keeping your private encryption keys safe. They possess advanced security tools and features. For this reason, the best hardware wallets do not come cheap.
What Makes Hardware Wallets Secure?
We’ve already mentioned the primary reason above: hardware wallets only connect to the internet when needed, instead of being constantly online. This means your private encryption keys are stored outside of the reach of hackers who may breach online security databases.
Perhaps more importantly, though, any good cryptocurrency hardware wallet features numerous levels of protection that work in tandem. These include PIN codes that need to be manually entered, backup phrases used to recover private encryption keys from stolen or lost wallets, and two-factor authentication systems that use additional devices to authorize transactions
Choosing the Best Crypto Hardware Wallet
With so many types of crypto wallets on the market, this may seem like a daunting task. Our methodology section below explains in detail the factors that make up a good crypto hardware wallet. In short, though, you want to absolutely make sure that you get a non-custodial wallet, which guarantees that you are in sole possession of the private encryption keys.
You also want to make sure that your chosen cold storage blockchain wallet supports your cryptocurrencies of choice. It should also have options for fully offline operation and come with a dedicated operating system and a high-quality hardware chip. Ideally, it will also use additional security features such as two-factor authentication and biometrics.
With a recent resurgence of interest in cryptocurrencies, blockchain wallets have become a hot topic on the internet again. In order to find the best hardware wallet for our readers, we’ve devised a methodology for assessing the potential candidates through four key categories. Let’s get right into it.
The most important consideration when reviewing any secure wallet is definitely the core security features it comes with. PIN protection is a common tool for protecting your device, but the most advanced models may use sophisticated input systems, QR codes, or even biometrics. Other important factors include the quality of the hardware chip and the potential operating system used in the device, if it has one.
When it comes to Bitcoin wallets, the best solutions also feature two-factor authentication systems, which add another layer of security by requiring a secondary device for the purposes of verifying authenticity. In summary, a top-tier crypto wallet will have the highest-quality non-tamperable hardware chip, a tailor-made operating system, multi-factor authentication, and maybe even biometric authentication methods in place.
In addition to the standard security features outlined above, some manufacturers offer bonus functionalities, mostly aimed at improving the user experience. These can include Bluetooth connections for connecting with your mobile phone or other smart devices, advanced touch-sensitive screens with biometric support, and partner programs that facilitate crypto trading through the operator’s trusted network of partners.
Most people looking for a hardware crypto wallet have Bitcoin in mind. However, the best Bitcoin wallet may not help you much if you’re looking to store a more niche cryptocurrency such as Monero. All good crypto wallets on the market allow transactions with a range of popular cryptocurrencies, but it pays to make sure that your wallet of choice officially supports the currencies that you plan to use.
Our final category for assessing cryptocoin wallet solutions is the overall experience of using the device. This includes the ease of use of the cold storage wallet itself, as well as how simple it is to reach out to the company if you run into any problems or bugs, or if you simply have questions about the device.
Best Hardware Wallets in 2021
- Trezor Model T – Best overall
- Ledger Nano X – Best for Bluetooth connectivity
- KeepKey – Best for beginners
- SecuX STONE V20 – Best for cross-platform operation
- BitBox02 – Best microSD backup
Is a hardware wallet worth it?
Yes. In fact, we’d call them essential, at least if you value your crypto stocks. While hot wallets are decent enough protection, the top Bitcoin wallets are universally hardware solutions or cold wallets.
Can hardware wallets be hacked?
Not really. Due to the complexity of the private keys used with hardware wallets, it would take hackers who are in possession of NASA-grade supercomputers decades to crack the encryption using brute force methods. There have been cases of exploitable vulnerabilities noticed in some wallets in the past, but these were quickly patched out.
Are hardware wallets anonymous?
Yes, that is part of their allure and the reasoning behind using BTC and other crypto funds in the first place. Your public Bitcoin address, for example, is just a string of letters and numbers, and your private encryption keys are only ever visible to you.
What is the best and safest Bitcoin wallet?
There is no single best hardware wallet for every need. Depending on your preferences and budget, there are several great cryptocoin wallets to consider. Anything from Trezor or Ledger is a safe bet, but you can also check our other reviews to find other great models such as KeepKey and the SecuX STONE.