When it comes to storing your cryptocurrencies, there’s no safer way of storing them than a hardware wallet. We’ve previously made a comparison between the two most popular hardware wallets that are in the market today, Trezor and Ledger. In this review, we’re going to give you a more in-depth look at the Trezor wallets.
If you don’t already know, a cryptocurrency hardware wallet is a particular type of security device that allows users to store their cryptocurrency holdings. Users can make payments or transactions securely and manage cryptocurrencies without exposing any sensitive information on the internet or a potentially compromised computer. Trezor, which means ‘safe’ or ‘vault’ in Czech, is the first cryptocurrency hardware wallet in the world invented by Prague based SatoshiLabs. There are currently two different Trezor wallet models in the market, the first-generation Trezor Model One and the more premium Trezor Model T.
Price: €49 EUR (approximately $58 USD)
The prototype for a cryptocurrency hardware wallet was first developed back in 2012. The founders of SatoshiLabs then started fundraising for the development, manufacturing and shipping of what would become the Trezor One, the world’s first crypto hardware wallet. The Trezor One first appeared on the market in 2014, and it quickly became popular. Though there are some notable differences from the Trezor Model T, the Trezor One still performs well in an increasingly competitive market as a safe, all rounded crypto hardware wallet. It’s also a great place to start for new cryptocurrency investors looking for a more secure way to store their crypto holdings.
Design and size
The Trezor One is available in either white or black color. It comes with a monochrome, bright OLED display measuring 128×64 pixels along with two fairly large buttons for ease of navigation. The display is wide enough to hold six lines of text and is especially useful for users to verify the details of transactions they are signing off on. The two large buttons are wide apart, which can be helpful because you are prone to making fewer typos when inputting information and making transactions.
Overall, the Trezor One weighs a mere 12g (0.42 oz) and measures just 60mm x 30mm x 6mm (2.4in x 1.2in x 0.2in), making it easy to bring anywhere with you. However, this can sometimes be a disadvantage as it can also be easily misplaced given how small it is. Its body is encased in plastic material, making it less durable than some of the other hardware wallet models that are protected by stainless steel encasements, such as the Ledger wallets.
Supported Operating Systems (OS)
The Trezor One is compatible with computers and smartphones. Supported Operating Systems on the computer are Windows 10, macOS 10.11 and higher, and Linux. On mobile devices, only the Android OS is supported, whereas iOS and Windows Phone are not yet supported. The ChromeOS is also yet to be officially supported but can be worked around using Google’s WebUSB.
The Trezor One has a micro USB port on the device and uses a USB-A to micro USB cable to connect to computers or smartphones. One micro USB cable is included in the box. While micro USB ports are less common these days, it shouldn’t be an issue given that it connects to universal USB-A type ports as well.
For processing power, the Trezor One uses a 120 MHz embedded ARM processor (Cortex M3) running a custom developed system.
Aside from Bitcoin (BTC), the Trezor One is capable of storing other popular coins such as Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Dash (DASH), Ethereum (ETH), Tether (USDT), Chainlink (LINK), Zcash (ZEC) and Ethereum Classic (ETC). The device also supports all ERC20 tokens on the Ethereum network. Combined with Trezor’s software wallet (Trezor Suite) and 3rd party software wallets such as Exodus and Electrum to integrate support, the Trezor One can support more than 1,000 different crypto tokens. Note, however, that there are certain coins that the Trezor One does not support natively but can be done on the Trezor Model T instead, such as Cardano (ADA) and Ripple (XRP). Be sure to check out the full list of supported cryptocurrencies here. You don’t want to end up purchasing the Trezor One only to find out that it does not support a cryptocurrency that you’re hoping to store safely.
Price: €159 EUR (approximately $189 USD)
After the success and proven popularity of the Trezor One, the prototype for the next-generation Trezor hardware wallet was unveiled in 2016. 2 years later, in 2018, the Trezor Model T appeared on the market. The Trezor Model T is priced much higher than the Trezor One. That’s because it is a significant upgrade from the Model One and is everything that the Trezor One can do, plus many additional features that make it a premium hardware wallet. It draws from the experience of the Trezor One in mind but combines it with a modern design with more intuitive features and added security layers.
Design and size
Perhaps the most apparent change in the Trezor Model T can be seen in its design and size. One look, and you’ll notice that the Trezor Model T no longer has any buttons on the device, and that’s because it has a much larger display equipped with a touchscreen feature. The screen on the Model T is a slightly larger and bright color LCD measuring 240×240 pixels. The intuitive touchscreen feature makes the Trezor Model T much easier to navigate and use. The larger screen also makes reading your seed phrase and transaction details a more pleasant experience.
The Trezor Model T is slightly larger than the Trezor One, measuring 64 mm x 39 mm x 10 mm (2.52 in x 1.54 in x 0.39 in) in size, and weighs a little heavier at 22g (0.77 oz). It’s still small and light enough for you to bring it anywhere with you and even has a magnetic dock with double-sided tape that can be attached to any firm surface. The same plastic material is used in the construction of the Model T’s body.
Supported Operating Systems (OS)
Similar to the Trezor One, the Trezor Model T is also compatible with computers and smartphones. Supported Operating Systems on the computer are Windows 10, macOS 10.11 and higher, and Linux. On mobile devices, only the Android OS is supported, whereas iOS and Windows Phone are not yet supported. The ChromeOS is also yet to be officially supported but can be worked around using Google’s WebUSB.
Unlike the Trezor One which uses a micro USB connector, the Trezor Model T uses a USB-C cable that makes it more in sync with the latest modern devices. A USB-C to USB-A type cable is included in the box.
The processing power in the Trezor Model T is more powerful than the one found in the Trezor One. The Model T uses a 168 MHz embedded ARM processor (Cortex-M4) running a custom developed system, the Trezor Core.
Just like the Trezor One, the Trezor Model T can support over 1,000 different cryptocurrencies plus all ERC20 tokens that run on the Ethereum network. It too works with the use of the Trezor Suite software wallet in combination with other 3rd party wallets to integrate support for all those tokens listed on Trezor’s supported coins page. At present, there are a few coins that the Trezor Model T can support where the Model One does not. The coins are Cardano (ADA), Ripple (XRP), Monero (XMR), EOS (EOS), Tezos (XTZ), and Ontology (ONT).
Key features in Trezor wallets
The single most important factor to consider in purchasing a crypto hardware wallet is its security features. Trezor’s security track record is impressive, and its transparency toward past security issues is admirable. You can find them fully documented here.
The Trezor One and Trezor Model T both have similar core security features. When you’re setting up your Trezor wallet, a unique combination of words will be generated. This is your seed phrase, and you should guard it with your life. The seed phrase, otherwise known as your recovery phrase, can be used to recover your crypto in the event that you lose or damage your wallet.
Without the recovery seed, it is impossible to restore your funds in the event that you lose or damage your wallet. By default, the Trezor One generates a 24-word seed phrase, and the Trezor Model T creates a wallet with 12 seed words, though this can be adjusted to 12, 18 or 24-word seeds on both Trezor devices.
The seed is generated offline on the device itself and displayed on the Trezor’s screen, which ensures that the seed is never on a device that may be connected to the internet.
You should write it down on a piece of paper and store it in a location that’s highly secure, such as a safe, just like how you would keep your jewellery or passports locked away securely.
Anybody with access to your recovery seed may be able to access your wallet, so you should always keep it safe and away from prying eyes. Here are some additional tips on safeguarding your recovery seed:
- Never store your recovery seed on a device that can be accessed online, such as a smartphone, computer, or tablet.
- Write down and keep your recovery seed in a place that is safe from all the elements, such as fire or flood, and keep it in a secure place where it’s difficult to be found by anyone other than you.
- Do not take any pictures of your recovery seed.
Upon initializing and setting up the device, you will also be asked to create a PIN number. This PIN must be used each time you want to access your crypto funds or sign off on a transaction.
On the Trezor One, you’ll have to enter the 9-digit pin code on your computer or mobile phone, whereas the Trezor Model T uses the device itself to enter the PIN code via the touchscreen.
The Trezor One uses a blind matrix method for entering the PIN, meaning that you will have to key in the PIN code on your computer or smartphone in correspondence with the randomly generated sequence of numbers displayed on the Trezor’s display.
Each prompt changes the sequence of numbers on the Trezor’s screen. This means that the PIN pattern changes every time you key it in and ensures that no keylogger will be able to observe a familiar pattern. This video demonstrates how it’s done on the Trezor One.
Another layer of security on both Trezor devices is the Passphrase. This feature allows you to add an additional word to the 24 seed word combination and can be thought of as the 25th-word in your seed phrase.
Just like your recovery phrase, you must remember the passphrase because without it, you will not be able to recover your funds should you lose or damage your wallet. There are a few reasons why a user might want to use a Passphrase.
Since it is only one word, which makes it more memorable to you, it effectively adds a password to your 24-word recovery phrase. Another reason to use the Passphrase is if you decide to set up multiple accounts within the wallet and don’t want to ‘put all your eggs in one basket’. The passphrase will then grant you access to another account within the wallet.
The best way of protecting your Passphrase is to keep it in your head and not write it down anywhere. That way, there’s absolutely no risk of anyone ever finding it and the only risk is if you forget the phrase.
Finally, there’s the Shamir backup security feature (Shamir’s Secret Sharing Scheme or SSSS). The Shamir backup is a method of splitting the seed phrase into multiple unique shares. In order to recover the wallet, a specified number of shares has to be collected and used. Much like the recovery phrase, a recovery share can be generated into a sequence of 20 or 33 English words carrying a part of the cryptographic phrase.
Combining the necessary number of shares creates the master seed phrase needed to recover a wallet. Unfortunately, this feature is only available on the Trezor Model T. The Trezor One can instead work around this by employing the multi-signature method. Since Trezor wallets currently have no native support for the multi-signature feature, you will have to use another software wallet like Electrum to set up this feature.
U2F (Universal 2nd-Factor)
Both Trezor wallets can be used as a U2F (Universal 2nd-Factor) hardware token in order to safeguard any accounts you own. Since most types of security tokens lack a display, you can never be sure about what you are approving when logging in to an account. The Trezor wallets will solve that problem.
Trezor has created a native desktop software called the Trezor Suite, which is the software you will be using to navigate your Trezor hardware wallet. From the moment of setting up your wallet to making transactions, this will be the software you will be dealing with. It has a clean and easy to understand interface for both beginners and advanced users.
As part of Trezor Suite, you will also gain access to Invity. Invity is a new way to buy cryptocurrencies right on your hardware wallet and have the coins deposited straight to your wallet.
Previously, purchasing tokens from your hardware wallet incurred high transaction costs. Trezor has innovated on this front by partnering with several crypto exchanges, thus allowing real-time coin price comparisons and lower fees when purchasing crypto directly from your hardware wallet.
Another software that comes with a Trezor wallet is the Trezor Password Manager. Much like other traditional password managers, it allows you to store and manage usernames and passwords for all your online accounts, with the feature to generate random passwords.
However, there is one significant difference. Traditional password managers utilize a master password, a single password to gain access to the rest of your stored account passwords. Once a person gets ahold of this master password, all of your accounts will be compromised. There are even reports of master password breaches in password managers such as RoboForm and LastPass.
The Trezor Password Manager doesn’t require a master password. Instead, the Trezor device is the master key to the rest of your account passwords.
The Trezor Model One was the first-ever cryptocurrency hardware wallet, and it continues to stay relevant in the market given its excellent security features and functionality in storing crypto safely, while the Trezor Model T is a significant upgrade on what the Trezor One was already good at.
Regardless of the budget you have in mind, both devices will give you peace of mind in keeping your crypto holdings safe and secure, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced level crypto investor.
Timothy is a news broadcast producer with a keen eye for television and a pair of tuned ears for the dulcet sounds of radio. Besides exploring new ways and mediums to tell a good story, he is also a passionate writer and musician who could play a sleazy guitar riff on the fretboard at any given moment.