HTC has unveiled its flagship blockchain-focused smartphone, the Exodus 1, as the manufacturer looks to shift its strategy to focus on new technology.
The Exodus 1 has been rolled out initially for an early access period, currently only available to users who pay in cryptocurrency – either Bitcoin or Ethereum. The Taiwanese firm said it expects to start shipping the device in December.
Other than its blockchain features, the Exodus 1 also includes:
A 16 megapixel dual main camera and an 8MP dual front camera with 4K video.
A six inch display with quad-HD+ resolution.
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor.
Six gigabytes of RAM and 128GB of storage.
The phone boasts many of features found on regular flagship smartphones, including dual rear cameras and a six-inch Quad HD+ display. However, it also houses what HTC calls a secure enclave, which is used to hold keys to cryptocurrency.
This is a secluded area on the phone’s chip kept separate from the Android operating system (OS) it runs on which uses technology made by SoftBank’s Arm Holdings to keep a customer’s cryptocurrency safe. The feature stores the information securely within the device, never sending it to a central location at any point, which HTC says ensures users maintain full custody at all times.
It also includes a social key recovery system, which helps users get their data back if the phone is ever lost or stolen. It allows users to pick some trustworthy contacts, each of whom must download a key management app.
Says HTC’s Phil Chen:
“It’s been both 10 years since the launch of the first Android phone by HTC and nearly 10 years since the launch of Bitcoin and the Genesis Block. Exodus 1 is a foundational element of the crypto internet. For digital assets and decentralised apps to reach their potential, we believe mobile will need to be the main point of distribution. We look forward to partnering with developers in the blockchain community to usher in this vision.”
Those wishing to buy the new phone have to use crypto in do so, with the price set at either 0.15 Bitcoin or 4.78 Ethereum, which is currently just over £730.
Once a powerhouse in the mobile phone industry, HTC has seen its status dwindle in recent years, with competitors like Apple and Samsung winning over market share as well as Chinese rivals like Huawei and Xiaomi climbing up the ranks. The 2008 HTC Dream was the first commercially released smartphone to run on Android.
With a decline in its own phone sales, and a broader slowdown for the industry, HTC has diversified its business, branching out into virtual reality with the HTC Vive, in partnership with gaming firm Steam.
The biggest sign that the company was trimming back its phone business came earlier this year when it struck a $1.1 billion deal with Google to move 2,000 of its employees to the US tech giant — most of whom had worked on Google’s flagship Pixel phones.