With the rate at which blockchain smartphone/crypto-friendly smartphone news has been dropping lately, they're going to have to start calling February "Phebruary." Okay, that worked better in my head, but the point is, HTC, Electroneum, and Samsung have all announced (or, in one case, half-announced) new features, new phones, or new partnerships that mark a clear path toward furthering the pursuit of blockchain tech and cryptocurrency mass adoption.
New Additions to the Exodus 1
Touted as the world's first blockchain phone (along with Sirin Labs' FINNEY), HTC's Exodus 1 can now be purchased with more than just cryptocurrency. Announced during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, HTC will now accept Exodus 1 purchases in fiat currency, including US dollars. Today, February 26, the Ethereum-based virtual reality platform Decentraland proclaimed that the Decentraland ecosystem would be coming to the Exodus 1. This means that users will be able to store their Decentraland identities, data, and assets in the phone's Zion vault, which cordons off the phone's Android operating system, making the contents therein unreadable to everything else on the phone.
Mining With the M1
Blockchain startup Electroneum has also thrown its hat into the blockchain smartphone ring with the announcement of its crypto-mining-capable smartphone, dubbed the M1. Along with being priced at $80, the Android phone also comes equipped with an app-based cloud mining system. Allowing for both online and offline mining, users will be rewarded with Electroneum's native token, ETN. According to the press release, miners will be able to earn up to $3 a month in ETN, which can then be used "to pay for services such as mobile top ups (airtime and data), online services or shopping."
Electroneum's main goal in creating the M1 is to meet the needs of those in developing countries. The startup says that its mission to drive blockchain and cryptocurrency proliferation is at the phone's core. The release also states the phone is Google Mobile Services-certified, meaning the phone has met specific device performance requirements to properly run Google apps.
Samsung's Announcement That Wasn't Really Announced
Last week, it was revealed that Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S10 will be capable of storing users' private keys. This week, at the Mobile World Congress, a video of Samsung's blockchain keynote presentation revealed a slide suggesting that the Galaxy S10 will support bitcoin, Ethereum, Enjin, and Cosmochain.
Any firm news related to Samsung's support for bitcoin, Ethereum, or Enjin, a blockchain game development platform, however, has yet to be confirmed. Cosmochain, on the other hand, has confirmed its partnership with Samsung. According to the press release, the Galaxy S10 will support Cosmochain's dApp COSMEE, which allows users to upload beauty product reviews and earn Cosmo Coin (COSM), the company's ERC20-compliant token. COSM can then be used to purchase products in the COSMEE marketplace.
Just Expensive Wallet Solutions?
Whether or not any of these blockchain smartphones will actually push mass adoption has yet to be seen. The Exodus 1 soft-released in October 2018, and the Galaxy S10 will ship in March. Certainly, with Samsung's reach, the S10 has the best chance at really bringing cryptocurrency to the mainstream, but what does that mean for the slightly more gimmicky M1 and the yet-to-be-proven Exodus 1?
When you think about the M1 or the Exodus 1 or even the FINNEY and their space in the cryptosphere, the novelty may soon wear off. The M1 is an inexpensive phone promising to maybe pay you $3 a month; the Exodus 1 and FINNEY are expensive smartphones that have cryptocurrency wallet and exchange apps that can already be downloaded on your average, non-blockchain phones. It all feels so incredibly underwhelming after the initial burst of excitement.
And I'm over here, looking at the iPhone's total lack of blockchain or cryptocurrency anything, and still thinking, I want to go to there.