Forget 5G: Could 2020 be the year of the blockchain smartphone?

Editorial
January 17, 2020

The increased interest surrounding cryptocurrencies and its technology has prompted an opportunity for it to be adopted and transferred in other areas of life. These include industries such as healthcare and automotive. Blockchain which is primarily associated with Bitcoin, can also be used in other areas such as smartphones. Not just for the use of securing keys for cryptocurrencies but also for different types of personal information as it creates more secure networks. 

Blockchain can also deliver increasing opportunities to help advance the Internet of Things (IoT). Over the past few years, we have seen IoT adoption increase with more individuals and organisations using interconnected devices which offer more comfortable data sharing. Blockchain can, in this way improve IoT devices by protecting the data flowing through the network and providing faster speeds. With this in mind, 2020 could potentially be the year of blockchain smartphones. 

By investing in the combination of blockchain with smartphones, many smartphone manufacturers will produce decentralised devices. Blockchain gives individuals more control over their data in the online world The technology's security and anti-theft abilities may allow smartphone users to use things such as social recovery to access data if they lose their device. This includes being able to blacklist the IMEI number of the device which will help suppliers identify and disable blacklisted devices which can threaten personal information stored on the smartphone. 

Many blockchain supporters believe that these devices will overtime naturally create a decentralised web. This newer version of the web will be able to support decentralised applications while running on public, peer-to-peer networks instead of private servers run by corporations.

Introducing Blockchain smartphones

Suddenly there have been several crypto-focused handsets that have hit the market. One of the first blockchain smartphones to come to market was Sirin Labs ‘FINNEY’, but today’s most prominent player in the game is Samsung with the release of their Galaxy S10. The smartphone includes a secure storage system known as a wallet for cryptocurrency private keys. HTC has also entered the market with its blockchain Exodus 1 handset. 

The smartphones will allow for better user experiences starting with cryptographic key management available on phones. Key security is paramount when it comes to digital currencies as losing your key could result in losing assets which is why blockchain smartphones are in demand. 

On HTC’s Exodus 1 model for example, a particular feature called social key recovery allows users to choose a small group of contacts to give parts of their key to. This way, if they lose their key, they can recover them piece by piece from other contacts. However, not everyone is a crypto-currency enthusiast and so for this reason, blockchain phones will have to offer more than keeping keys safe. With that in mind, Samsung and HTC from Smartphone Checker have spoken about partnerships with other organisations to work on blockchain projects such as blockchain-based gaming platforms and more natural ways to use the technology to make payments using blockchain technology for websites. 

While conversations about crypto going mainstream usually involve the hunt for the Killer App that will make it all happen, killer hardware and consumer tech certainly has a role to play too and blockchain phones might just be the start of something beautiful.

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