HTC Launches Exodus 1 Blockchain Phone That Can Only Be Purchased With Cryptocurrency

HTC Exodus 1
HTC is accepting pre-orders for a new flagship phone, though there is a caveat. Users can only purchase the Exodus 1, as it's called with cryptocurrencies—specifically either Bitcoin or Ethereum, the two most popular blockchain currencies in existence. It is, for all intents and purposes, a blockchain phone and not a typical Android handset.

That would not be evident at first glance of the specs. The Exodus 1 sports a 6-inch HD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and 6GB of RAM. It also features 128GB of onboard storage, dual 8-megapixel cameras on the front with "natural Bokeh," 12-megapixel and 16-megapixel cameras on the rear, and a 3,500 mAh battery.

The rest of the specs are mostly typical of what anyone would expect from a flagship Android phone, complete with Android Oreo running the show. Or, part of the show, to put it more accurately. What really makes this phone tick is a separate and secure enclave. This allows it to store BTC in its Zion Wallet, a native cryptocurrency wallet.

"Think of it as a micro OS that runs in parallel with Android," Phil Chen, HTC's decentralized chief officer, told CNBC. "It basically is a wallet, but the wallet, what it does is hold your private keys."

The phone also touts a Social Key Recovery feature so that a user can recover their private key from trusted contacts, should the need arise. Each of the contacts that the user denotes as trusted must download a key management app. An algorithm that can recover the private key is split among them, and pieced together if needed.

It remains to be seen how popular something like this will be, particularly with Bitcoin and Ethereum having lost some value compared to a few months ago. That's how it goes, though—the cryptocurrency market is volatile and subject to sometimes wild swings.

The Exodus 1 is available to pre-order for 0.15 BTC or 4.78 ETH, both worth around $950 in US currency. It will ship in December.