Review: HTC Exodus 1s, the Full Bitcoin Node Smartphone

When it introduced all the way through The Lightning Convention in October 2019, HTC’s Exodus 1s smartphone took at the bold project of endowing Bitcoiners with a tool that delivers the protection of a pockets and the privateness and sovereignty of a complete Bitcoin node. 

At a retail value of 219 euro (roughly $245), plus delivery tax, the tool is extra inexpensive than a Casa Node and part as dear as a Ledger Nano X pockets. Weighing not up to 6 oz and carrying a sparkly five.7-inch display, the HTC Exodus 1s could also be essentially the most transportable complete node resolution to be had for retail. However is it truly the perfect, all-in-one tool to exchange all your Bitcoin-related pieces?

For greater than a month, I examined the HTC Exodus 1s beneath more than a few stipulations to spotlight each its and tool functions. The effects had been reasonably promising however nonetheless depart so much to be desired from the standpoint of a “Bitcoin energy consumer.” Correspondingly, the following sections of this overview will focal point at the execs and cons of the 1st complete node smartphone available on the market. In the end, this overview will have to supply helpful perception that may get advantages attainable patrons — and in addition supply some comments for HTC.

What’s within the HTC Exodus 1s Field?

Once you peel the plastic foil off of the HTC Exodus 1s’s simple white field, you’re greeted via the core part of the packaging: the black and shiny telephone. Relating to look, the HTC Exodus 1s seems to be so much like a regular iPhone. Alternatively, the frame is fabricated from plastic, the display is a five.7-inch LCD, the Face ID infrared notch is changed via a fingerprint scanner and the twin cameras are changed via a unmarried one. All of those changes were made to be able to cut back the prices of the HTC tool, however another way the design is horny and the sensation of protecting the telephone to your hand is agreeable. In comparison to an iPhone, you’ll additionally care for a greater grip, because the construct feels strong and no longer as slippery as Apple’s flagship tool.

The equipment equipped via HTC come with a charging cable (micro USB-A), with an influence plug that corresponds for your area, and a collection of earphones. Within the field, you are going to additionally to find consumer manuals in a couple of languages, a Zion-branded card that can be utilized to put in writing seed keys, a few HTC badges, a pin which is helping you open the SIM card tray and a couple of HTC Exodus stickers.

The HTC Exodus 1s as a Smartphone

Out of the field, the HTC Exodus 1s is a reasonably elementary Android tool whose options are lovely usual for an entry-level to mid-range smartphone from 2019. It has a slick design, sports activities two 13-megapixel cameras (one within the entrance for video calls and selfies, and the opposite one within the again), is pushed via the four-year-old Snapdragon 435 octa-core processor and boasts four gigabytes of RAM (for reference, the first-generation Casa node has solely 2 gigabytes). The specifications are toned down from the unique Exodus 1 — however given the adaptation in value (the 1s is one-third as dear), it is sensible to chop down on bills. 

So as to overview the telephone, I’ve used it for 2 weeks each day. Except any of the Bitcoin-related options, it purposes really well and will get the process carried out for calls, emails and messaging programs. When used for those functions, the Exodus 1s didn’t have any problems with sluggish loading instances or laggy switching between apps.

The Android eight.1 Oreo running device could also be two generations at the back of the flagship usual, however it’s nonetheless lovely clean. In comparison to Apple’s iOS, it has a much less intuitive interface to opt-out from microphone, location and digital camera get entry to — choices that many Bitcoiners will wish to leverage. However if you get the cling of it and take away the tool from the Google panopticon, it’s truly simple to make use of. At the plus aspect, the Orbot app can course all your web connections via Tor — which grants you nice privateness. At the unfavourable aspect, you’ll’t take away or substitute the Google seek bar from the house display, and it is a consistent reminder that you wish to have to be wary about your privateness.

What I discovered in particular spectacular concerning the HTC Exodus 1s is the battery existence. Within the first month of the usage of it, I used to be in a position to recharge the tool each 10 to 12 days. All of that point, the 1s used to be hooked up to WiFi and it served an electronic mail control position. It will have to be famous that no SIM card used to be inserted, and this loss of cellular community connection indisputably stored battery. Alternatively, after the total node used to be synced, the battery existence lowered considerably, lasting just one complete day (because the relaying takes up RAM and processing energy).

However, the cameras are under moderate for 2019/2020 requirements: They take time to focal point, they don’t seize colours that glance particularly vibrant they usually lack some options that images fans to find helpful on flagship Android gadgets and iPhones (akin to portrait mode, night time mode, shutter time, are living photos and Animojis/Memojis). Alternatively, there are many programs that may strengthen the standard and aesthetic of images via filters and complicated choices. Additionally, it’s not likely for any individual to have top photographic expectancies from a $245 telephone or to buy a Bitcoin-friendly tool for its digital camera.

Earlier than Syncing the Complete Node: HTC’s Zion App

The overall Bitcoin node is indisputably essentially the most distinctive function and the essentially promoting level of the HTC Exodus 1s. However to be able to continue with the preliminary block obtain, you will have to first satisfy two stipulations: Gain an SD card that may retailer greater than 260 GB of knowledge (there are 400 GB and 512 GB choices, either one of which can be to be had for approximately $100 in maximum electronics retail outlets), and behavior the obtain via HTC’s Zion utility.

Whilst the previous prerequisite is affordable (the telephone solely has 64 GB of garage, because of this it will possibly solely accommodate a pruned node), the latter limits the chances considering a procedure that are supposed to be about liberation and fiscal sovereignty. Zion, the telephone’s proprietary utility, serves as a pockets and a dashboard to your complete node. Subsequently, to be able to get started downloading and validating all of the historical past of bitcoin transactions, you will have to agree to HTC’s privateness coverage and settle for the inclusion of a few options and the loss of others.

As an example, the Zion pockets isn’t Bitcoin-only or even has devoted menus for DApps like Maker and Augur, and collectibles like CryptoKitties and Etheremon. The inclusion of those additional options would possibly solely be disappointing from a poisonous maximalist standpoint (the place anything else unrelated to Bitcoin will robotically be frowned upon), but it surely does turn out that HTC’s primary efforts to broaden tool for the telephone weren’t Bitcoin-centric. 

The HTC Exodus 1s is a pioneering device offering great value, but limits in its Bitcoin focus and full node capabilities leave room for improvement.
The Zion app comprises options which can be possibly inherited from the HTC Exodus 1 telephone, and weren’t got rid of for this Bitcoin-centric unencumber, together with altcoin make stronger and menus for DApps and collectibles.

The HTC Exodus 1s is a pioneering device offering great value, but limits in its Bitcoin focus and full node capabilities leave room for improvement.
The Zion app comprises options which can be possibly inherited from the HTC Exodus 1 telephone, and weren’t got rid of for this Bitcoin-centric unencumber, together with altcoin make stronger and menus for DApps and collectibles.

Additionally, the Bitcoin pockets itself lacks some essential options. It has no SegWit make stronger and makes use of a unmarried legacy cope with for all incoming transactions (which interprets to better charges and really deficient privateness), and there is not any method to manually set transaction charges (you solely select your time choice). Subsequently, operating your complete Bitcoin node is indisputably no longer the cellular an identical of the usage of Bitcoin Core to your pc.

General, the ecosystem that HTC constructed to paintings with the built-in pockets is underwhelming from a tool standpoint. Whilst the theory of operating a Bitcoin complete node will have to contain extra monetary freedom to ship and obtain bills, HTC’s Zion app makes it really feel constraining. 

Syncing the Complete Bitcoin Node

On maximum computer systems, synchronizing a complete Bitcoin node takes about two or 3 days, relying on web velocity, exhausting pressure studying and writing velocity (it’s beneficial to make use of an SSD) and RAM allocation. The HTC Exodus 1s has nice specs and will have to have the ability to obtain and validate the entire transactions at the Bitcoin blockchain in not up to every week. Alternatively, my enjoy used to be other and it took 15 days to complete the process.

Curiously, I misplaced the 1st day looking ahead to the node to sync whilst I had Tor routing activated. Because it seems, this model of the tool gained’t permit the method to start out if that function is enabled — however after the synchronization used to be finished, Tor labored simply adore it will have to.

I assumed that the sluggish preliminary sync used to be a ordinary phenomenon, particularly once I positioned the telephone subsequent to a router in charging mode. Additionally, the again quilt were given noticeably hotter all the way through this computation-intensive procedure. Some other complete node used to be being operated at the identical Wi-Fi community, so the sluggish obtain used to be no longer brought about via the relationship itself.

Moreover, the tool’s specifications will have to be greater than able to a sooner obtain. The telephone is endowed with four GB of RAM, which makes it simply as tough because the Casa 2 and the Nodl One. Sadly, even at height synchronization, the Zion tool didn’t permit the telephone to make use of greater than 165 megabytes of RAM — an insignificant four p.c of the tool’s capability. On moderate, the Exodus 1s solely used 85 MB from its reminiscence.

Whilst it’s comprehensible that the running device calls for a vital bite of the reminiscence to run and it’s vital for the telephone to stay operational all the way through the preliminary synchronization of the Bitcoin node, it’s nonetheless extraordinary to look that builders from HTC didn’t allocate extra RAM for this procedure when the telephone is in idle mode. There’s a overlooked alternative there, as maximum Bitcoiners possibly gained’t use the telephone all the way through the sync — or will a minimum of depart it untouched for 8 hours or so whilst they sleep, which poses an excellent alternative for the tool to bump the RAM allocation.

The problem at stake is not anything that HTC can’t repair in a long run replace. Having the ability to do the preliminary sync with Tor became on and permitting the telephone to allocate extra RAM for a sooner sync would contain tweaks within the Zion app — expectantly one thing the corporate will paintings on someday.

The HTC Exodus 1s is a pioneering device offering great value, but limits in its Bitcoin focus and full node capabilities leave room for improvement.
The preliminary block obtain took 15 days, however expectantly this fee may also be stepped forward.

The HTC Exodus 1s is a pioneering device offering great value, but limits in its Bitcoin focus and full node capabilities leave room for improvement.
The preliminary block obtain took 15 days, however expectantly this fee may also be stepped forward.

The usage of the Complete Node at the Exodus 1s

After 15 lengthy days, it used to be after all time to take a look at some Bitcoin and Lightning programs. As in the past discussed, the integrated Zion app is underwhelming as a pockets (as it makes use of a unmarried receiving cope with, doesn’t permit for UTXO control and doesn’t grant handbook keep an eye on for charges). There are higher possible choices available in the market, akin to Blockstream Inexperienced which provides a lot of energy consumer options in a easy and complete consumer interface. 

Alternatively, the total node function of the HTC Exodus 1s didn’t appear to paintings with anything else out of doors of the Zion ecosystem. In contrast to Bitcoin Core, Zion’s settings menu does no longer show choices referring to explicit connectivity and there may be just a generic function to permit incoming connections.

The HTC Exodus 1s is a pioneering device offering great value, but limits in its Bitcoin focus and full node capabilities leave room for improvement.
The overall node settings will have to be evolved to incorporate extra connectivity and integration choices to be able to onboard Liquid and Lightning, or to easily transfer to different wallets.

The HTC Exodus 1s is a pioneering device offering great value, but limits in its Bitcoin focus and full node capabilities leave room for improvement.
The overall node settings will have to be evolved to incorporate extra connectivity and integration choices to be able to onboard Liquid and Lightning, or to easily transfer to different wallets.

My subsequent strive used to be to make use of the total Bitcoin node to be able to onboard the Lightning Community. I’ve downloaded the wallets evolved via Lightning Labs, ACINQ (each Eclair and Phoenix) and Nayuta, however none of them hooked up to the total node. Subsequently, I used to be not able to run Lightning with the telephone’s integrated and entirely synchronized Bitcoin node function.

Alternatively, this state of Bitcoin node isolation is solely brief and is certain to modify with long run updates. 

“The overall node isn’t designated to simply paintings with the Zion app,” HTC Exodus Decentralized Leader Officer Phil Chen instructed Bitcoin Mag. “The present limitation is since the Bitcoin knowledge folder is beneath remoted garage within the Zion app, which can’t be accessed via different apps. We’re running to make stronger different apps someday via exporting APIs from HTC Core.” 

New options for the HTC Exodus 1s are anticipated to be introduced all the way through the Bitcoin 2020 convention, which takes position in overdue March 2020 in San Francisco. 

“We’ve got a number of thrilling plans that we want to announce at Bitcoin 2020,” Chen added. “Please keep tuned!” 

Enhancements to Be Made

As famous above, I examined the HTC Exodus 1s for 2 months and it proved to be a super tool for each activity except for the original function which may constitute its primary promoting level — the total Bitcoin node. Even though the node works smartly after the another way long synchronization, at overview time it used to be nonetheless restricted to simply functioning with the pockets equipped via the Zion app. 

Preferably, HTC will have to create the cellular an identical of Bitcoin Core with extra options for devoted Bitcoiners, akin to complete SegWit make stronger and bech32 addresses, the power to set charges manually, UTXO keep an eye on for better sending privateness, limitless cope with era for higher receiving privateness, and integrations with wallets that make stronger the Lightning Community. To care for a focal point on simplicity, simple tactics to modify to precise apps that provide additional options may well be added to the interface. As an example, for Liquid Community or Lightning, there may well be added buttons that robotically obtain and hyperlink with Blockstream Inexperienced or Zap (or any Lightning pockets, for that subject).

Some other growth that HTC will have to make comes to RAM utilization all the way through the preliminary sync: 165 MB is indisputably no longer sufficient for a fast procedure and the quantity will have to get bumped to one GB or extra all the way through moments when the telephone is charging or is idling. This will also be an possibility that customers can toggle on or off, as Bitcoiners will without a doubt take into account that they will have to no longer contact the telephone for a couple of days till the synchronization is whole.

The HTC Exodus 1s is a pioneering device offering great value, but limits in its Bitcoin focus and full node capabilities leave room for improvement.
Optimizing the to be had four GB of RAM to make the preliminary sync sooner will have to be a concern for long run iterations of the HTC Exodus 1s.

The HTC Exodus 1s is a pioneering device offering great value, but limits in its Bitcoin focus and full node capabilities leave room for improvement.
Optimizing the to be had four GB of RAM to make the preliminary sync sooner will have to be a concern for long run iterations of the HTC Exodus 1s.

Additionally, changing the Ethereum options (there’s even a seek bar for Etherscan on the second one house display of the telephone, and it will possibly’t be got rid of via customers) with Bitcoin ones would indisputably be a step in the fitting path, given the truth that the objective target audience is composed of people that obviously perceive the worth proposition of Bitcoin and wish to maximize their privateness, safety and sovereignty.

The HTC Exodus 1s provides a super worth for the cost and is a pioneering tool within the Bitcoin house. Alternatively, to ensure that the tool to in point of fact fulfill the desires of Bitcoiners, it wishes to offer extra capability and step out of doors of the inflexible Zion ecosystem. Bringing integrations and tactics to glue the total node to third-party programs is indisputably a primary excellent step, however optimizing Zion for freshmen to have extra options could also be a concern.

Particular due to Chen and HTC for sending the telephone for overview.

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