HTC's first blockchain-focused smartphone – the Exodus 1 – will become available for purchase with real money next month, according to a recent report from The Verge. The device was introduced in October and started shipping to customers in December. Initially, it was only available for purchase using Bitcoin and Ethereum cryptocurrencies, but starting with March prospective buyers should be able to acquire the phone in exchange of $699.
One of the main features that make the HTC Exodus 1 a so-called "blockchain smartphone" – even though the term is debatable – lies in its ability to store cryptocurrency coins in a secure enclave powered by HTC's hardware crypto-wallet called Zion. Its functionality was limited but according to the new report, the OEM is also continuing to add new features to the device.
One such feature lies in the recent inclusion of the Opera crypto browser as exemplified through the YouTube video embedded below. Zion is now integrated with the Opera browser on the device, allowing users to make online purchases using cryptocurrency.
Furthermore, the HTC Exodus 1 can now be used in conjunction with a number of new decentralized mobile applications including Numbers. The app can collect data regarding the user's activities including simple things such as walking, driving, sleeping etc. and offers complete transparency in this regard while giving users the option to sell their data to third parties for cryptocurrency.
The report also cites HTC's Phil Chen who revealed that the OEM is now working to make each Exodus 1 smartphone a partial node on the blockchain. This would effectively allow Exodus 1 owners to trade cryptocurrency among them. Phil Chen claims that the feature is not yet ready for the general public, but it might become available before the end of the year.
Although the HTC Exodus 1 is a unique mobile device in its own right, particularly due to the inclusion of a hardware-level crypto wallet, the device is not really a direct competitor to other flagship phones launching this quarter. As far as the internal hardware is concerned, the Exodus 1 is technically a modified HTC U12+.
The HTC Exodus 1 is equipped with a 6-inch Super LCD6 display featuring a resolution of 2,880 by 1,440 pixels and relies on the Snapdragon 845 chipset supplied by Qualcomm, coupled with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of built-in storage. The smartphone runs Android 8.1 Oreo but it remains to be seen if it will receive new firmware updates in the future and make the jump to Google's more recent mobile OS version, Android 9 Pie.
As yet it's unknown why HTC decided to make the Exodus 1 available for purchase next month using real money, but this move effectively makes it less of a niche device which could attract more customers. HTC's smartphone business has been slowing down over the past few years, with its most recent smartphone being the HTC Desire 12s announced in December, and it's unlikely that these changes surrounding the Exodus 1 will turn HTC's ship around anytime soon.
Last week HTC posted another drop in month-over-month revenue and only time will tell if the emerging 5G era will help the OEM in stabilizing its smartphone business.