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HTC Smartphone Will Run A Full Bitcoin Node (#GotBitcoin?)

Mobile phone manufacturer HTC wants to let its smartphone customers plug into the bitcoin blockchain. Speaking on Saturday at the Magical Crypto Conference in New York, HTC’s Phil Chen revealed a new low-cost version of its blockchain phone, the EXODUS 1s, announcing that the device will be capable of acting as a full node for the bitcoin network, meaning customers will store the entire blockchain’s data on their devices. HTC Says Its Next

The company will also provide a software development kit (SDK) available for its Zion Vault, HTC’s crypto wallet app, and eventually plans to open-source the code behind its social key recovery mechanism.

Phil Chen, HTC’s decentralized chief officer, told CoinDesk that the company is targeting a release by the end of Q3.

“[The 1s is] going to be a lot cheaper, it will be a lot more accessible,” he said. The device will retail for between $250 and $300.

Specifications have not yet been released for the device.

The 1s will be based on the HTC EXODUS 1, which was announced at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 and released later in the year. While customers could initially only purchase the device with crypto, HTC opened up fiat payment options in February.

Full node
The most striking promise of the 1s will be its ability to run a full bitcoin node. Chen explained that the company saw that as “a really important piece of the pie” for the bitcoin ecosystem.

“We think that’s foundational to the whole decentralized internet and just the whole fundamental premise,” he said. “If you don’t own your keys, you don’t own your bitcoin, you don’t own your crypto.”

The EXODUS 1 was designed to let users maintain their own private keys, which in turn formed the basis for this next move, Chen said.

He believes that from a technological standpoint, smartphones today are physically capable of handling the effort, noting that computing chips and storage media are constantly becoming cheaper and more efficient.

“We expect that phones will be powerful enough,” he contended, adding:

“The bitcoin blockchain is about 200 [gigabytes], and it’s growing about 60 gigs per year. And those numbers are reasonable to hold on a smartphone. Imagine the iPod with 256 gigs … of course the music fan wants to keep the whole music library but the crypto fan wants to keep the whole bitcoin blockchain.”

By letting users run full nodes, HTC is giving them the ability to verify data themselves, he said.

“[You can] be a part of the bitcoin revolution by contributing to the security of the whole network,” said Chen.

That being said, the EXODUS 1s will still be capable of conducting normal smartphone operations, with room for music, videos, pictures, apps and dapps.

Other blockchains?
HTC plans to support the bitcoin blockchain at launch, but Chen did not rule out adding support for other networks. The chief considerations include how much memory and bandwidth other networks would require, he explained.

“I think running light nodes, like ethereum for example, is definitely doable, [but] it all depends on the spec,” he said.

The company also plans to focus on public blockchains, which Chen believes are far easier to support than private networks. That said, HTC is not planning on adding support for any other networks explicitly at this time.

“I see bitcoin as one of the most important if not the most important blockchains,” he said. “We definitely want to support that first and given what bitcoin stands for, open, neutral, censorship-resistance.”

He also noted that bitcoin is “the most proven” network, and supporting it was at least a little symbolic as well.

Once HTC is able to launch the 1s, Chen expects that his team will be able to apply the experience from supporting a bitcoin node to other networks.

Ecosystem Construction

Its new 1s falls in line with HTC’s goal of contributing to the broader crypto ecosystem.

Demand from the EXODUS has been “in track” with HTC’s expectations, Chen said. However, the company is still soliciting feedback from the community. To that end, HTC is publishing its Zion Vault SDK for developers and ultimately plans to make its social key recovery mechanism available for other wallets to utilize (though there is no set timeline for this last part).

The company is also continuing to support its existing EXODUS 1 product, adding an Etherscan widget for customers to explore the ethereum blockchain and support for further non-fungible tokens.

Chen said the company would continue to develop products for the line, targeting a user-focused experience.

“I think people who really care about the public blockchain space see the role we play in this ecosystem. We’ve gotten a lot of support from developers and we’re very authentic about empowering developers,” he said.

Updated: 10-19-2019

HTC’s Latest Blockchain Phone Can Run a Full Bitcoin Node

Taiwanese electronics manufacturer HTC has launched its latest blockchain phone, the Exodus 1s, which enables users to support the bitcoin network.

Unveiling the device Saturday at the Lightning Conference in Berlin, the company claimed the new product is the first smartphone to be able to run a full bitcoin node, allowing it to propagate transactions and blocks anywhere.

“Full nodes are the most important ingredient in the resilience of the Bitcoin network and we have lowered the barrier to entry for any person to run a node,” Phil Chen, chief decentralized officer at HTC, said in a statement.

The new smartphone comes to the market at a price of €219 ($244), which is about a third of the cost of its predecessor, the Exodus 1. HTC will sell the new version at the Berlin conference using the Lightening payment network.

The device allows users to install a 400+GB SD card to expand its memory, allowing it to cope with the increasing data capacity required to store the full bitcoin ledger. The current size of the full ledger is closing on 250 GB, according to Blockchain.

The company recommended users to connect to WiFi and plug into a power source while running the full node, though it can also be used on the go.

The smartphone also has a built-in hardware wallet to help users securely store cryptocurrencies. By default it comes with 4 GB of RAM and 63 GB of storage, and runs on Android Oreo 8.1

“We are providing the tools for access to universal basic finance; the tools to have a metaphorical Swiss bank in your pocket,” Chen said.

The smartphone will be available in 27 countries across Europe and the Middle East, including Germany, Greece, Saudi Arabia and UAE. It is currently not planned for sale in the U.S.

HTC’s device is joining a nascent but increasingly busy field of blockchain-dedicated smartphones. Blockchain startup Sirin Labs recently teamed up with electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn to launch the blockchain mobile phone Finney, while Samsung launched its Galaxy S10 in the spring. Others such as LG are rumored to be moving into the blockchain space with upcoming devices.

Outside of buying and selling cryptos, smartphone markers are increasingly eyeing blockchain technologies as as a way to reassure users concerned about the security of their private information.

“We really care about this portable identity and users owning their identity and data, and we believe that the phone is the best place to do that,” Chen said.

 

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