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Whatever you might say about HTC (and believe me, there’s plenty to say), at least the company takes some fascinating chance. As newly minted CEO Yves Maitre admitted to me at Disrupt a couple of weeks back, the once mighty smartphone giant has lost the thread in recent years. But if nothing else, the Exodus project marks a glimpse at some potential smartphone future.
With this weekend’s launch of the Exodus 1s at Berlin’s Lightning conference, HTC aims to make it clear that the project is more than just a one-off. The new device lowers the barrier of entry to €219 (~$244). All said, not a bad price for those looking to dabble in the technology. Oh, and obviously it’s available in all of the various equivalent cryptocurrencies.
The specs are fittingly pretty dismal. There’s a Snapdragon 435, running Android 8.1. The screen is a 5.7 inch HD+, coupled with a decent 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Oh, and there’s a microUSB port and, good news, a headphone jack. Honestly, it’s a pretty low-end device, all told.
The big difference here being the the inclusion of a hardware wallet and Bitcoin node access. “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 release tied to the news. “We are providing the tools for access to universal basic finance; the tools to have a metaphorical Swiss bank in your pocket.”
Maitre told me the other week he still believes mainstream use of blockchain on these devices is more than two or three years out. What the 1s provides, however, is an inexpensive way to see what the technology provides today. Interested parties in Europe, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE can order it online starting today.