The new HTC Exodus 1 blockchain-enabled phone is now available for pre-order — but in a surprising twist, the company announced the new phone must be purchased with either the Bitcoin or ethereum cryptocurrencies.
HTC, which has been struggling against rivals Samsung and Apple in recent year, wants the privacy-focused Exodus 1 flagship device to help shift its strategy on to new technology.
The phone is priced at 0.15 Bitcoin or 4.78 ether (the tradable token of the ethereum network) — which works out at just under $1,000 at current conversion rates.
“Our vision is to expand the blockchain ecosystem by creating the world’s first phone dedicated to decentralized applications and security. With the release of the HTC Exodus we can now make this a reality,” HTC wrote in a blog post.
“With over two decades of experience manufacturing the world’s leading smartphones, and shipping over 100 million phones, we believe we can help reshape the internet with the HTC Exodus. Join us and together we will make decentralization a reality.”
HTC’s new phone, which was announced at the CoinDesk Consensus conference in May, has its own cryptocurrency wallet called Zion, allowing it the new phone to function as a hardware cryptocurrency wallet.
The Exodus 1 also includes a so-called secret enclave on the device that will store a user’s cryptocurrency keys and is kept protected from the wider Android operating system.
“Think of it as a micro OS that runs in parallel with Android,” Phil Chen, HTC’s decentralized chief officer, told CNBC. “It basically is a wallet, but the wallet, what it does is hold your private keys.”
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency private keys are what allow holders of digital tokens to access and move them to other wallets. Often these are held by wallet providers or exchanges on behalf of users.
HTC hopes that integrating blockchain’s trusted digital ledger technology in the phone will bolster user’s security and privacy and will in the future help with protecting a customer’s data and identity.
Blockchain can record Bitcoin and cryptocurrency transactions and data across a distributed network with no central authority overseeing it, making it a trusted database with no need for a third party to be able to control the information.
The Exodus 1 will start shipping by December and HTC also said it is looking for developers to participate in the early-access version.
The phone will be available in 34 countries and regions, including the US, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, the UK, Austria, Norway, and other parts of Europe. The new HTC phone won’t be available in China however, which has taken a strict approach to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.