Smartphone maker HTC has launched a new entry-level phone aimed at cryptocurrency users, TechCrunch reported on Monday (Oct. 21).
At roughly $244 (€219), the HTC Exodus 1S is a less expensive follow-up in comparison to the $699 Exodus 1 released in 2018. The new phone also is full of cryptocurrency-related features allowing users to exchange, lend and borrow digital assets.
The new phone does pack less powerful hardware built around a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor. It also has a 5.7-inch HD+ screen, a USB port, a headphone jack and 4GB of RAM.
The differentiator is that it includes a hardware wallet and can run a “full Bitcoin node,” which HTC says is a first for a smartphone.
“We gave users the ability to own their own keys, and now we’ve gone one step further to allow users to run their own full Bitcoin node,” HTC’s Phil Chen said in a statement to news outlets. “We are providing the tools for access to universal basic finance; the tools to have a metaphorical Swiss bank in your pocket.”
HTC said it hopes this new phone will give it an edge in what has been a slow smartphone market for them. After Google acquired most of HTC's design team for $1.1 billion last year, the firm has flown under the radar.
The shift over the past few years has been geared toward virtual reality but Chen said the firm sees the opportunity for a phone with crypto-friendly features.
“Initially considered a gimmick by some, crypto technology is the next frontier of smartphone innovation,” Chen said. “For the smartphone category to grow again, we need more adoption of crypto-phones.”
HTC initially made the announcement last month that it was partnering with Bitcoin.com to add bitcoin cash support for its Exodus 1 blockchain phone.
Bitcoin.com will also sell HTC’s crypto-phones. Zion Vault, the phone’s key management software, will also be able to secure BCH transfers.
“The Zion Vault is happy to support BCH natively in hardware so security goes hand-in-hand in the BCH blockchain as an alternative to dominant payment rails and platforms,” HTC’s Chen told CoinDesk on Sept. 17.