The HTC Exodus 1 is a premium smartphone with decent specs, an interesting looking design, and a few truly unusual features:

  • It has a secure enclave and “Zion Wallet” for storing blockchain/cryptocurrency data.
  • You can only buy the Exodus 1 using cryptocurrency.

The smartphone is up for pre-order for 0.15 BTC (Bitcoin) or 4.78 ETH (Etherium). That comes to about $960 or $950 today, but cryptocurrency exchange rates have a habit of changing rapidly.

HTC says the Exodus 1 will begin shipping in December, 2018.

The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and features a 6 inch, quad HD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio.

It has 6GB of RAM, 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage, a 3,500 mAh battery, 12MP + 16MP rear cameras and 8MP + 8MP front-facing cameras.

The HTC Exodus 1 is wateproof, with an IP68 rating, and the phone has a transparent back cover, although it’s unclear if you can actually see the phone’s internal components through the cover or if you’re looking at a fake version that’s a little prettier than what you’d see if you actually took the phone apart.

HTC’s newest phone is very much a niche device: it’s aimed at cryptocurrency/decentralized web/blockchain enthusiasts. It’s set up so that your private keys are isolated from the Android operating system, and if you lose your phone or lose access to your data for some reason you can use a Social Key Recover feature that allows you to designate a group of trusted friends, each of which will have access to a part of your key. When those friends come together they can recover your data to help you regain access in the event that you’re locked out.

It’s a little strange to see a company that’s been floundering in the market for the past few years go after a niche category in this way… but it also sort of makes sense. While there are dozens of phone makers competing for the mass market, there are only a handful of companies developing so-called “blockchain phones,” so if there really is demand for this sort of device there’s a better chance of HTC obtaining a significant portion of that market share.

What remains to be seen is just how big that market is.

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