Bitcoin Wallets — Best Hardware Cold Wallets for Crypto
As Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies grow in popularity all over the world there is also a rising interest in how to securely store and manage your crypto portfolio.
If you are looking to store your Bitcoins in an outside wallet you might be searching for the best Bitcoin wallet.
We have looked at the best alternatives with focus on security, supported cryptocurrencies, user experience, cost and other features.
Best Bitcoin Hardware Wallets
- Ledger Nano X - Best Hardware Wallet for Bitcoin
- Trezor Model T - Most Secure Wallet for Bitcoin
- Ledger Nano S - Most Affordable Wallet
The list has grown over time. You might wonder why we think these three are the best hardware wallets.
First, they are among the oldest hardware wallets in the market.
They are also the most used by many people around the world.
In a nutshell, these are brands and models that have proven themselves in the market.
Some of the aspects of these hardware wallets we focus on include the cost, user experience, supported cryptocurrencies, security, and other features.
Ledger Nano X
This hardware wallet comes from the same manufacturer as the Ledger Nano S.
It was released in 2019 and has more capacity and improved user experience.
In several ways, it is an upgrade.
It supports more cryptocurrencies, close to 100, making it suitable if you have a huge portfolio of cryptocurrencies.
When you include an ERC 20 wallet (an Ethereum wallet), then you are looking at over 1000 coins supported.
The Ledger Nano X hardware wallet also comes with a wider screen that makes it easier to confirm your transactions.
Besides the size of the screen, it retains the same shape as the Ledger Nano S.
It also has a feature that allows you to control it from your mobile phone using a Bluetooth connection.
That means you do not need to connect it using a cable every time you send crypto.
This is a great feature for those who might need to transact while on the go.
When it comes to security, no serious incident has been reported yet.
It, however, shares the same fate with Ledger Nano S regarding the data breach on the manufacturer and the exposure of client details.
The price is also double that of the Nano S and retails at $116 before taxes and shipping costs.
It is relatively cheaper compared to hardware wallets of the same capacity in the market.
Some have found pairing up the device with a mobile phone a little challenging.
However, once the feature works, it is flawless for the most part.
Trezor Model T
The Trezor brand is the first-ever in the market.
It is a product by SatoshiLabs, a company launched in 2013 and based in the Czech republic.
The Trezor brand is often described as the original hardware wallet.
The Trezor Model T is the second model released by the company in 2018.
It came after the Trezor One, released in 2014.
One thing that makes Trezor wallets stand out in the market is that its core software is open source, which makes it easy for others to audit it.
Meanwhile, for the years the Trezor wallets have been in the market, no security loophole has been discovered in the firmware.
The Trezor Model T comes with a large touch screen, making it easy to use and opens up more functionalities.
It also makes it possible for you to set up without involving your desktop and, therefore, to expose sensitive data.
The wallet supports more than 1000 coins, including Monero, EOS, and Ripple.
The Trezor Model T retails at about $165 before taxes.
It is among the most expensive hardware wallets in the market.You might wonder, ‘how many hardware wallets do I need?
As long as you choose a wallet with enough memory space to install the apps for all the crypto in your portfolio, one is all you need.
Ledger Nano S
This was the first hardware wallet from Ledger, a company headquartered in Paris, France, founded in 2014.
Ledger is one of the two biggest hardware wallets manufacturers alongside Trezor.
Their Ledger Nano S model was released in 2016 and has sold about 1.5 million units around the world, making it one of the most popular hardware wallets.
This wallet can accommodate six cryptocurrency apps at any given time.
The cryptocurrencies that you can hold using the wallet include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Stellar, Stellar, Dash, Tron, and IOTA.
However, through the Ethereum wallet application, it can support up to thousands of ERC 20 tokens.
It has a sleek oblong shape with a cover that opens to create a V shape with the main device.
It is basically a thumb drive with a steel cover.
It, however, has a screen through which you can confirm transaction data before you send it.
The Ledger Nano S has two buttons for scrolling the menu and confirming or signing transactions.
To go through the menu, you use either of its two buttons, but to confirm and sign a transaction, you need to press the two buttons at the same time.
When it comes to security, no issue has ever been reported except for the leak of the user information from the manufacturer.
While this did not make the wallet itself vulnerable, it made its users possible targets of phishing campaigns.
The wallet is sold at a retail price of $59 and can be ordered from the manufacturer's online store.
It is one of the most affordable in the market.
However, you should be aware that taxes in your country of residence might make the cost go up a little.
Many have reported great customer support whenever one needs an issue attended to.
However, it is important to point out that customer support cannot help you reverse transactions or get a lost private key.
Hardware wallets explained.
You must understand the concept of
cold and hot wallets, especially if you deal in a significant amount of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.
It is also important to know the options in the market.
That will help you take the necessary steps to protect your crypto portfolio from theft on the internet, which happens all the time.
In the early days of Bitcoin, you had to trade convenience for security and vice versa.
The hot wallets gave you high convenience with low security, while the cold wallets gave you high security with low convenience.
That is no longer the case.
Today, thanks to a category of cold wallets known as hardware wallets, you can spend your bitcoins with both high security and convenience.
But before we look at how this works, let’s start from the basics.
What is a Bitcoin wallet?
Generally, a Bitcoin wallet is an account on a website, a mobile application, an application on a computer, or an electronic device to which others can send you bitcoins and from which you can send others bitcoins.
In technical terms, though, a wallet is a pair of a
public key and a private key.
The public key is also known as an address, while the private key is also known as a digital signature.
You share your address (public key) with those who need to pay you.
Meanwhile, you need your digital signature (private key) to sign a transaction that sends the bitcoin you own to others.
It is through a wallet that you use Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.
A wallet is the user interface to the Bitcoin network or system.
So how does a wallet work?
The public key or address is similar to your email address, which you normally share with those you need to send you a message.
Meanwhile, the private key is like the password to your email box
—you need it to read your messages.
While you can share the email address to anyone you expect to send you a message, the password should be known only to you.
The same is true about your bitcoin wallet.
You can only share your public address, but you need to keep the digital signature known only to you.
Also, like with email, you can have an application to manage your wallet installed on your computer, smartphone, or as a portal on a browser.
Like you can manage your email through the Gmail app on your phone, you can manage your Bitcoin through the Mycelium app on your smartphone.
Like you can access email on the browser, you can also access your Coinbase wallet on the browser.
There are differences, though. First, email handles the transfer of messages while the wallet facilitates the transfer of money.
Second, while your email data is processed and stored on a server somewhere, your wallet data is stored on a shared ledger that exists on a peer-to-peer network.
Thirdly, while you can use the same email address for an extended time, you should get a new bitcoin address and a digital signature for every transaction.
When you interface with the Blockchain through an application on your desktop, smartphone, or another device, you can generate as many addresses and private keys as you need.
You generate a new address by simply clicking ‘receive payment’ in the wallet application.
The public address is made available for you to copy and share with others.
The private keys don't necessarily show but can sign a transaction when you click ‘send.’
How do you cash out your Bitcoin wallet?
When you want to cash out from your wallet, you need to get the address you need to send your bitcoins to.
It could be a buyer, exchange, or your other wallet.
The recipient will have to share the address first before you initiate the transaction.
The address (public key) is a string of characters, which can also be represented in the form of a scannable QR code.
To start the process, click the send button within your wallet application and you will have a place to input the address and the amount to be sent.
If you have a hardware wallet, you will be prompted to sign the transaction from the device.
It is important to point out that you need to be sure that you want to send the coins.
That is because once you click send, the transaction can never be reversed.
The difference between a hot and cold wallet.
When your keys are kept in storage that is not connected to the internet, they are described as being
It is the most secure way to keep your crypto.
A cold wallet could be a computer that is never connected to the internet, a paper wallet, or a hardware wallet.
When you have your private keys on a device or storage connected to the internet, such as a computer or smartphone, the wallet is described as hot.
As a Bitcoin user, you are expected to have full control of your private keys.
Some services such as exchanges like Coinbase do promise or take care of crypto on your behalf.
They become some kind of a bank.
However, you must protect your private keys because they can easily take away your Bitcoin.
If this happens, you don't have recourse as there is no Bitcoin support to reverse the transaction.
Ideally, you should have your private keys in a device not connected to the internet (cold wallet).
That protects them from the possibility of being stolen by hackers who can then transfer your coins to their wallets.
Advantages and disadvantages for both cold and hot wallets.
The primary advantage of a cold wallet is that your crypto is secure, as a hacker cannot remotely steal your private keys.
The disadvantage is that often it is cumbersome to process a transaction.
You first need to bring the private key online, and once you do that, it can never go back to being a cold wallet.
If you have a balance in the corresponding public key (address), you might have to transfer that to a new cold wallet.
The entire process is complex especially for someone who is not tech-savvy.
Besides, the private keys are likely to leak online as you generate them.
The advantage of a hot wallet is that it is more convenient.
You just share an address and when you receive funds you can send them with little difficulty.
The main disadvantage of a hot wallet is that the private keys can be stolen remotely.
The risk of that happening increases with the amount being held.
The more funds in a wallet, the more likely someone will notice it on the public ledger and attempt to hack the private keys.
The hardware cold wallet
What is the point of a hardware wallet?
The hardware wallet is a cold wallet that comes with both convenience and security.
It gives you the benefits of a cold wallet and also those of a hot wallet.
It is also easy to use even if you are not tech-savvy or very knowledgeable about how cryptocurrencies work.
A hardware wallet is a special electronic device with a screen and buttons to help you sign Bitcoin transactions without exposing your private keys to the internet.
It is a store for your private keys (and not bitcoins, actually).
When you want to send Bitcoins, a transaction is created on an online interface or wallet.
The hardware wallet is connected to sign it offline using the private key it holds to complete the transaction.
The first hardware wallet was released in 2013, about four years after the launch of Bitcoin.
Early hardware wallets could only be used to receive, hold and spend Bitcoin.
Later designs can hold multiple cryptocurrencies.
You can buy a hardware wallet directly from the manufacturers, and most ship around the world.
There are third-party distributors, but you should be wary of purchasing from them because there have been cases where the retailers compromise the device, and then they can hack and steal your coins.
Most hardware wallets come with a seal across the cable port.
You are expected to reach out to the manufacturer if that seal is broken when you receive your device.
If the seal is broken, then it means someone else might have had access to it.
When you receive your hardware wallet, you are supposed to install or update its firmware, which manages the private keys in the hardware.
To do this, you need to access the manufacturer’s website while the device is connected to the computer or smartphone.
For some manufacturers, for example, Ledger, you are supposed to install a managing software on your phone or desktop.
For others, for example, Trezor, the managing software, works through the browser from their official website.
In both cases, the site will provide the step by step process to follow.
With the firmware installed or updated, you are supposed to install an app on the device for every cryptocurrency you intend to use it for.
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