20/09 - UPDATE - We got the chance to sit down with Phil Chen to pick his brains on the Exodus, and found out some interesting details - click here to see it all, or read on for more....
Blockchain is everywhere at the moment, with the technology making headlines around the world with its potentially game-changing applications (as well as frequent valuing fluctuations)
HTC is now jumping on the bandwagon, with the Exodus - what it says is the world's first major blockchain-powered smartphone.
The Taiwanese firm has not had the smoothest ride in the smartphone market in recent months, having made a raft of recent job cuts, device shipments dwindling across the world and its most recent U12 Plus flagship receiving somewhat mixed reviews.
The HTC Exodus is the brainchild of Phil Chen, who was the driving force behind the Vive virtual reality headset, and forms the start of a major blockchain push as the company looks to return to winning ways.
HTC says it wants to "make decentralization a reality", expanding the blockchain ecosystem through a connected network of mobile devices - so could the HTC Exodus be the start of a new generation? Here's everything we know so far...
The key details:
- What is it? HTC's new blockchain-boosted smartphone
- When is it out? Q3 2018 - so before the end of September
- What will it cost? Probably around $1000 (around £600, AU$1300)
So far, HTC has only said that the Exodus will launch in the third quarter, meaning some time between July and September.
Given that HTC only recently released the U12 Plus, it would make sense that the company would look to spread out its launches.
With several of the big Android manufacturers set to announce major device launches this autumn, it would make sense for HTC to launch the Exodus sooner rather than later - but in terms of specific dates, it's still TBC at the moment.
There's no indication on price yet either, although HTC Exodus head Phil Chen recently told The Verge that the device would be "comparable" to the $1000 (around £600, AU$1300) Finney blockchain-powered phone released by Sirin Labs last year.
Chen also said that the HTC Exodus will launch "definitely everywhere outside of China" - with that exclusion being down to China's stringent rules and regulations on technology. But again, as of yet, there's still no specific details.
So how will a blockchain phone work?
Blockchain technology may be flavor of the month, but it's not at first glance an ideal fit for smartphones - as high-stakes trading and cryptocurrency mining often requires hugely powerful hardware.
HTC is looking to start something completely new with the Exodus, claiming that the device is the launchpad for its new native blockchain network ecosystem, with the individual Exodus devices acting as nodes for trading amongst users.
For those all-important trades, the device will include a cold storage wallet that will support all major cryptocurrencies, including the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum, as well as decentralised apps.
The cold storage hardware is important as it means that the Exodus will be able to store the user's cryptocurrency offline, often on a separate web server or other hardware, adding an extra layer of security
Blockchain technology should ensure extra security due to high-level encryption tools, as well as the ability to connect to superfast networks to ensure speedy transactions - Chen notes that the device will be "the most secure hardware wallet out there."
When we spoke to Chen recently, he revealed that the HTC Exodus has built a secure enclave (that it calls the "trust zone") directly within the device's Arm hardware. This includes with a new standard it calls trust execution environment, which keeps your cryptocurrency funds safe and sound.
Lastly, it's also worth noting that Exodus is already the name of a well-known online cryptocurrency wallet service, offering an "all-in-one wallet to secure, manage and exchange blockchain assets" - which could well be the backbone of HTC's new approach.
Overall though, there are still a lot of questions to be answered, so now it's over to HTC to prove it has what it takes to make the Exodus a success.
What else do we know?
HTC has already said that the device will run Android software, meaning that all Google's usual familiar services will be present and correct - and this will include some of HTC's own security tools on top.
The HTC Exodus also comes with a unique security Social Key Recovery safeguard if you do misplace your phone, and with it, all your precious currency.
This means that the wallet can only be recovered or accessed with a unique key, and during the set-up process of the device, you'll be asked to select several contacts, each of whom will then receive a part of the key, accessed only through a special app.
If you do misplace your device, getting access to the wallet can only be done by obtaining all the part of your key
As for hardware though, we're still none the wiser - and HTC is got giving anything away just yet.
However it will need to be fairly powerful to cope with cryptocurrency mining, which will mean most probably an octa-core processor and a hefty amount of RAM, along with a sizeable battery to power all of this.
And despite HTC may claim, the Exodus is not the world's first blockchain phone. That title belongs to the little-know Finney phone, which was revealed earlier this year.
Created by Sirin Labs, the $1,000 device allowed users to store and spend digital currencies without incurring transaction fees.
We have contacted HTC to find out more information about the Exodus and how it will work, and we'll be updating this article as soon as more information is made available.