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Ledger Nano X Review

Updated 09/04/2019


Pros


- Larger Screen
- Multi-signature Capabilities

- Ergonomic Buttons
- Easy Mobile Usage
- Increased App Capacity

Cons


- Higher Cost

- Potential Bluetooth Vulnerabilities
- Closed Source

Who Should Buy a Ledger Nano X

Crypto investors who want a wallet with multi-signature support

Crypto investors who own many coins

Crypto traders who make frequent trades

What Are Hardware Wallets Good For?

The purpose of a hardware wallet is to store your coins in what is known as 'cold storage'.


By using a cold storage method you are keeping your coins in a wallet who's private keys are not on a device that is connected to the internet, so they cannot be compromised by a hacker.


In the past, we used paper wallets to serve this purpose, but that is no longer considered a best practice (you can ready why in our blog post on paper wallets).


Instead we use hardware wallets as the preferred method of cold storage for cryptocurrency.


Thankfully, they are fairly easy to use, are not too expensive, and are far more reliable than a paper wallet.


Basics of the Ledger Nano X

The Nano X is a hardware wallet which supports a variety of cryptocurrencies and is the latest edition to Ledger's popular line of small, pocket-sized HD wallets.
It was preceded by the Ledger Nano S which was released in 2016.

The Nano line supports over 1,150 cryptocurrencies. These leverage the security, flexibility and ease in backing up wallets with Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) capabilities.

The Nano X provides cold storage by creating and storing your wallet’s private keys offline.

It can also be integrated with third-party wallets to manage ERC-20 tokens.

With the release of the Ledger Nano X, it has taken up the mantle as Ledger's flagship premium product line by supporting several new features (including a larger screen and bluetooth capabilities) not available on its older brother, the Nano S.

Ledger's Background

Ledger was founded in 2014 as a company that sought to compete with Satoshi Labs and their line of Trezor hardware wallets.


Ledger claims to have sold over 1,500,000 hardware wallets in more than 165 countries as of the time of this writing.


Ledger executives, such as founder Eric Larchevêque and CTO Nicolas Bacca are very active in the crypto communities on twitter and reddit and are very responsive to questions and concerns around the safety of their hardware.


Price

While the Nano S can now be had for a mere $59, the Nano X is a pretty penny more.

If you want the newest hardware from ledger, you are going to need to pony up $119.

If it's of any consolation, this price include the shipping to most countries, so that helps a little.

See how the Nano X stacks up against other competing hardware wallets
The real question is: is the increased price worth the added features the Nano X offers?

Lets find out!

Nano X vs Nano S?

The Ledger Nano X boasts several additional features not available with the Nano S.


Nano S can only hold 4-5 apps as opposed to 100 the Nano X hard drive can hold

Nano S has no bluetooth support, but Nano X does

Nano X buttons are more ergonomic

Nano X chassis is of a stronger build

The most striking advantage of the Nano X is its increased hard drive capacity, which expands the app storage from a mere 5 on the Nano S to up to 100.

The Nano X is also much heavier and more robust. It also has the option of bluetooth connectivity in addition to using the USB cable.

The Nano S, on the other hand, leaves you completely tethered to the computer via USB, so no mobile transactions are really possible.

Using your mobile device (with the Ledger Live app installed) is less cumbersome and more discrete if you are making transactions with the Nano X on the go.


It is worth noting, though, that with this added Bluetooth capability may perhaps come with some added risks. Users of the Nano X should be aware of these risks and make their decision after weighing these against convenience.


Users may also be relieved to know that Ledger has responded to these claims and assure users that, given the architecture of the Nano X's secure element, there should be no issues.


And, of course, you can always fallback to using the provided USB-C cable if you remain unconvinced.


Packaging and First Impressions

Handling and managing cryptocurrencies are inherently paranoia-inducing tasks, so its always nice to find a well packaged product that helps make you feel reassured.


You want to be as sure as possible that no one has tampered with the hardware.


Like the Nano S, the box is shrink-wrapped in plastic and neatly printed with clear branding.


There is no security sticker as the device itself is checked for authenticity each time it pairs with its dedicated software (Ledger Live).



Please note, never buy a hardware wallet device of any kind other than from the manufacturer or an official reseller.


The box contains:

USB-C Cable

Lanyard & Keychain

Ledger Stickers

Backup and Info Cards

The box is a bit more premium, a nice upgrade from the Nano S box. .

The USB-C cable is shorter and nylon-braided, both of these changes are improvements from what is supplied with the Nano S.

Included with three backup cards for your seed phrase are instructions to proceed to the Ledger website for device setup.


Nano X Construction

The Nano X is the feature-rich big brother of the Nano S.

Both devices feature confirmation buttons, however the Nano X's are more ergonomic. They even produce a softer, more pleasant clicking sound!

These are used for exclusive navigation of the device's screen, for confirmation and transaction signing.

The chassis is quite similar to the Nano S, however built with sturdier components and a slightly different layout.

The Nano X is more likely to survive a near-crushing if left accidentally in a back pocket, for instance.

If it's an industrial-grade, global holocaust level of resilience  you are looking for, however, you'll want a Billfodl.


Security

Ledger is at the forefront of developing the industry's device security.

In what ways?

CC EAL5+ Secure Element

Only Ledger's devices can claim the French cybersecurity agency ANSSI's full certification. 

The Nano X and Nano S both feature what is called a 'secure element'. The chip seen below is the nest generation chip that comes in the Nano X:

The secure chip meets the CC EAL5+ certification and run's Ledger's proprietary BOLOS operating system. 


"A Secure Element is a secure chip that...embeds intrinsic countermeasures against many known attacks. This kind of chip is tamper-resistant and protects your device to a range of different attacks."

This secure chip differentiates the Ledger's method of key storage from its competitors' hardware wallets (with the exception of coldcard).

PIN Code

The first time you power on your Nano X, you will need to set up an 8-digit PIN code.

This PIN is similar to when you use a bank card at an ATM, it is required to access and operate the devices. It is a basic first line of defense, so don't skimp on those digits — use all 8 characters.

The failsafe incorporated to the PIN is that the device will erase itself after the PIN is input incorrectly after 4 attempts.

No one will be able to access your device through the brute force method to compromise your PIN (and by extension, your coins).

Backup via BIP39 Recovery Seeds

Both the Ledger Nano X and the Nano S provide a hardware wallet backup method using the BIP39 standard.

You can read our post about BIP39 in detail here.

The quick takeaway is that you can reliably convert your private key into a much more human-friendly format.

This is in the form of 24 easily identified, readable words.

If your Ledger ever becomes lost, destroyed, stolen or you lose your PIN you can recover your wallet.

As long as BIP39 is a supported method, it can even be restored to a non-Ledger wallet!

Simply input the 24 words in the correct order and you will regain access.

Ledger includes three recovery sheets to record your recovery seed words at the time of your device setup. 
This should be considered the minimum or even a temporary backup method for a wallet's seed phrase, however.

Paper as a medium is extremely vulnerable to destruction or distortion.

The dangers presented by potential flood or fire (among others) are dramatically reduced when seed words are committed to a Billfodl.

Sleep easy at night with stainless steel protecting your seed words from disaster.
Prior to obtaining a Billfodl, one unlucky hodler lost $1,000,000 of Bitcoin when his seed phrase was destroyed by flood — despite the precaution of being placed in a fireproof safe.

Learn from this unfortunate mishap!

Paper is an inferior and unacceptable medium for storing your seed phrase.

Passphrase Support

The Ledger Nano X now includes passphrase support, also known as "25th word protection".

The passphrase feature adds a single additional word to the seed phrase. This acts as a final protection in the case of someone discovering your recovery backup.

Here's why this is important:
1. You may want to boost the security to your recovery phrase, regardless how secure your seed phrase words are stored.

Remember - anyone with your 24 words can set up your wallet and drain it. The passphrase is like a PIN for the phrase itself (instead of just for the Ledger device).

2. Another reason is to create a "dummy account" in your device that holds an insignificant sum of funds. A dummy account acts as protection from the "Five Dollar Wrench Attack".
How an attack on your actuallyworks: the $5 wrench attack works
In such a scenario, you could plausibly deny any larger sum of coins exists and the attackers would have sufficient indication that they've already cleaned you out.

Here's a a video we created on how to set up the passphrase for a Ledger Nano S, but the process for a Nano X is the same.

Multi-Signature on the Nano X

Although you may not be motivated to do so early on, it's good to know that you have the option to sign transactions with than one hardware wallet to. 

This method protects you in the event that all of the previous security measures have been compromised.

In this case, even if someone has control of your hardware wallet, they will be unable to steal its funds without the second multi-signature hardware device.
Ledger Nano X can be used as one of two devices in a multi-signature setup.

This creates an incentive to use Ledger over their competitors which lack this feature.

For serious cold storage, multi-signature offers a great level of security.

Best of all, you don't even have to use other Ledger devices in your multi-signature setup.

Ledger allows you to use other manufacturer's hardware, protecting you from what are known as "supply chain risks".


Device Activation via Ledger Live

To activate and manage apps on Nano X, you first must install the Ledger Live software on your personal computer or mobile device.


The app is a welcomed upgrade over Ledger's original method of using the somewhat buggy Chrome plugins.


Once Ledger Live is set up, a passcode must be created and your recovery seed words will be presented for you to back up.


These must be confirmed before you may proceed to installing any apps or creating any transactions.


This step is of paramount importance. Take the time to back this phrase up properly - this is where the Billfodl comes in.


While there are three paper recovery cards provided, this should be considered a temporary backup method only.

To more adequately secure the recovery phrase, use one of the Billfodl products. There are many fates that a piece of paper could befall. 


Why leave risks unaddressed when near catastrophe-resistant stainless steel can protect your seed words?


Restoring a Wallet from Seed Words

This part won't happen when you are setting up your wallet.


You only need to do this in the unfortunate event the Nano X is lost, stolen or damaged permanently.


Thankfully, if you ever do need to restore a wallet on a Nano X, it is quite easy.


Once you begin to input characters, the display eliminates letters which won't result in words from the BIP39 official wordlist.


Since only the first 4 letters are related to your seed data, the choices are constrained further making quick confirmation quite easy. 



Confirming the Device is Genuine

At this point it's a good idea to conduct the "genuine check" which confirms your Nano X is legitimate.


This is a feature which uses the official Ledger Live software and can be utilized at any time.


Adding Device Apps & Accounts

Using the "manager" feature in Ledger Live, you may install whatever apps you would like to set wallets up for. 


The huge array of apps that can simultaneously be installed on the Nano X is remarkable in comparison to the Nano S.



Wallets and accounts are only able to be installed once a specific app for that specific cryptocurrency has been added. Installation is fairly painless and takes only a moment.


The most obvious limitation of the Nano S is it's ability to store only 4 or 5 apps at once.


The Nano X blows this limitation out of the water: you can install up to 100!

You will find the account setup, portfolio, send/receive functions and the manager on the menu located on the left hand side of the Ledger Live application.


This is where you will manage accounts and give them names for easy reference.


The practice of referring to a wallet address as an “account” is helpful to newcomers, however may lead newer users to address reuse, a practice which is considered unsafe because of the privacy loss.

Transactions on the Nano X

After the apps and wallets have been set up, you're ready to begin

sending and receiving coins.


Using Ledger Live, transactions are created in and confirmed on the Nano X device itself.



Review of transaction data is improved on the Nano X.


The new screen allows you to see the full address on one line, and you can choose to select which item (amount, destination address and fees) you're viewing instead of waiting for each one to appear and scroll.


It's a small, but notable improvement over the Nano S.


Confirmation of the address is completed manually and only once you physically press both buttons on the final screen.

After transactions are complete, you may copy the details to the clipboard and there are block explorer links available as well.


The device is designed to log on its own after a period of inactivity as a security feature.


You may disable the Ledger Live software from timing out or requiring a password to log in - though this is not recommended.

Account Overview and History

In the main menu, Ledger Live calculates a countervalue for your entire holdings.


You may choose from several fiat currencies, BTC or ETH.


The balance is displayed over spans of a week, month or year.


Your transaction history may be exported in CSV format from the settings menu you can also export making accounting of your coins very simple.


Supported Coins

Ledger currently supports over 1,100 coins, including these larger cap projects and all ERC20 tokens.
If you are interested in the entire exhaustive list of coins supported by both of the Ledger Nano devices, see our blog post here.
TL;DR: Ledger supports Bitcoin, XRP, Litecoin, Ethereum (along with all ERC20 tokens) as well as all the largest coins, including:

  • Bitcoin Cash
  • EOS
  • Stellar
  • Litecoin
  • Tether
  • Tron
  • Cardano
  • IOTA
  • Binance coin
  • Monero
  • Dash
  • Neo
  • And over 1000 more!

OS and Hardware Support with Ledger Nano X

  • Android

  • iOS

  • OS X

  • Windows

  • Linux


Key Feature: the Nano X Screen

Without a dedicated screen, a hardware wallet is essentially a pointless device.

Why?

Having the ability to confirm and verify transactions keeps your wallet air-gapped — that is, not connected to the internet.

A good hardware wallet makes this much easier to manage than it would be on your own.

Without a screen, you would be forced to verify addresses and confirm transactions via a computer connected to the internet.

This data cannot be assumed to be reliable as attackers are constantly looking for methods to steal your coins. You may be shown one address while your funds move to another! 

The same thinking goes for handling your recovery seed. Best practice is to view and confirm on an air-gapped device such as a hardware wallet.

Now we must consider the privacy of the Nano X.


Using Ledger Nano X Privately

To use your Ledger Nano X in the most private and secure fashion, there are a few extra steps you can take. 

First, you can set up your device without using a computer at all.

This is especially easy with the Nano X because it has its own battery (unlike the Nano S) and comes partially charged out of the box.

Additionally, you could choose to use the Electrum Personal Server with the Ledger acting as a signing device device only.

Although more secure, this option is considered suitable only for more advanced users and poses other potential risks.

You are also able to opt out and use your own personal node for broadcasting transactions without relying on the Ledger (the company) to feed you that data.  


Summary

The Ledger Nano X is a fine improvement over its predecessor, the Ledger Nano S.


While either are easily seen as high-quality cold storage devices, the Nano X may be more most useful to active traders on the go. 


Additionally, the buttons, display screen and connectivity options are nice extras to have if cost is no barrier.


The time saved with the improved display will certainly add up and eliminate the annoyance of waiting to confirm an entire address or wait for other information to be displayed. 


The Nano S is more suitable for the a long-term hodlers who don't actively use it for long periods of time, while the Nano X is better for active traders and power users.


The quality of life improvements of the X come at a premium, but it may be worth it to you, provided you understand the additional potential risks that come with the Bluetooth feature. 


Storing your keys offline with a Ledger hardware wallet and keeping seed words backed up in a stainless steel Billfodl is a great two-pronged defense in keeping your coins secure.


Keeping a backup phrase in a medium impervious to flames, floods, crushing or other forms of destruction is the most secure method toward ensuring reliable access to your funds in the case of an emergency.


Pro vs Con

Pros

  • User friendly
  • USB-C cable
  • Improved display
  • Device must be connected for all operations
  • Multi-signature Support
  • Device times out after a period of inactivity (thanks to one of our founders)
  • Passphrase support
  • Ongoing development from Ledger


Cons

  • Increased Cost 
  • Closed Source
  • Doesn't validate change addresses on the device itself
  • Connection and Disconnection order unclear at times 
  • Indirect encouragement of address re-use

Rating:

4.5 / 5


Ledger Nano X - The secure hardware wallet
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