What are Blockchain-based smartphones? (Part 41)

Welcome to the 41st part of the 100-part series on Blockchain.

In today’s internet world, it is nearly impossible to imagine our phones without internet access. And with the internet in every pocket, the world is increasingly becoming interconnected, and information accessibility is no more a concern. But all of this comes at a cost, which many of us may not even be aware of.

Challenges faced by cell phones

(i) In this interconnected world, users don’t own their digital identities; they don’t own their digital data; in fact, they don’t even own their personal data. Whether it’s behavioral data, commercial data, health data, browsing data, or some other data, all of that is owned by a handful of companies, and users don’t have a clue about how this data is used and who all can access it.

(ii) Every app or game you download on your phone wants your personal info, and it will even incentivize you with extra features, easier connectivity, and bonus in-game items in exchange for your personal information. Most of you would have used your social media accounts to sign up for one app or the other on your mobile, but while doing so, you must not have even realized that you’re giving them free access to your personal information, which they can use and sell as they see fit. Though some ethical app providers or creators clearly mention that they won’t share your data with any third party, there are others that stay silent on this and don’t clearly mention if they are sharing your information with third parties or not. That’s because they are.

(iii) In today’s world, when your mobile acts as your bank, wallet, your personal mailbox, you can’t afford to think of losing it. Losing your phone is like losing your keys, wallet, and your personal and critical data. Simply put, it could be devastating if someone stole or found your mobile phone.

(iv) Another security concern arises when users don’t update their phones with the latest software upgrades provided by their Mobile Manufacturer. Most recent and updated version of the operating system of a mobile phone is generally more secure than its predecessors, but the problem is that many Android or Apple users never update the operating system on their phones, which in turn, makes such mobile devices more vulnerable to hacking than the updated ones.

Blockchain- The Solution

Blockchain-based smartphones can overcome the problems faced by cell phones today.

(i) The biggest advantage of a Blockchain-based smartphone is that it allows you to keep possession of your data, unlike today’s smartphones where all of your online data is being held by Google, Apple, or similar tech giants.

A blockchain-based smartphone is effectively an Android phone with all the functionalities similar to what we have in normal smartphones, but one feature that differentiates it from the rest of smartphones is that it has an additional locked area that is nearly impossible to be hacked into. This Blockchain-based smartphone has a parallel micro-operating system that makes it safe, secure, and hackproof.

(ii) Blockchain-based smartphones also support decentralized applications also known as “dApps.” The look and feel of these dApps is similar to the normal mobile apps we use today, but these dApps run on public, peer-to-peer networks instead of private servers of big tech companies. From a security point of view, this means that dApps are more resilient and secure than traditional mobile apps. Being decentralized, the major advantage of a dApp is that it would never be subject to centralized control. Simply put, decentralization means that no single entity has control over the platform or process being used.

For example, consider a centralized application such as Twitter. Twitter users are, ultimately, at the mercy of Twitter. Twitter could conceivably choose to censor or even remove any user from its platform. On the contrary, dApps are leaderless and instead are controlled by their users. Users or members of the decentralized Apps can vote on how the applications should evolve or change. Furthermore, any changes to the dApps can only be performed through consensus.

Refer to Part 17 for a detailed explanation of dApps

(iii) Social key recovery is another important feature in Blockchain-based mobile phones. In social key recovery, essentially, a user can choose a small group of contacts and give them parts of his keys. If the user loses his keys, he can recover them piece by piece from his contacts.

(iv) On Blockchain based smartphones, it is much easier for people to use their cryptocurrencies to make micropayments on websites or for using dapps.

Blockchain smartphones in the market

Blockchain smartphone is not just a concept anymore, and multiple companies have already launched their blockchain smartphones in the market. For instance,

1. HTC’s Exodus 1 smartphone: This phone aims to provide a secure mobile environment for Blockchain transactions and crypto wallets. For this additional security, the HTC’s smartphone provides a safe, encrypted digital space that is separate from the main Android OS.

With the integration of HTC’s Zion wallet, the phone serves as a hardware wallet as well. The crypto wallet is configured to store currencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. This is much more secure than storing a wallet on your regular phone using an Android app.

In this Blockchain-based system, you hold your private keys, and for any transaction, you need to sign it.

Additionally, there are around 20 apps in this smartphone, including a personal tracker that can sell your data in exchange for cryptocurrencies with your due permission. HTC has also partnered with Opera to allow users to make micropayments to various sites.

Micropayments can be a game-changer because with this feature, people will now be able to transfer very small amounts of money without the need to deal with additional transaction fees. In case you lose your phone, the key recovery mechanism will let you recover your keys. This mechanism splits your key into five different parts so that you can share it among your family and close friends. When you lose your phone, you can call up three out of the five friends to recover it. But you still need your biometrics or password to avoid any possible security breach, which can happen if these contacts get together behind your back to access your key and start signing transactions.

2. The second blockchain-based smartphone in the market is Finney Phone, launched by a Switzerland-based startup Sirin Labs. The smartphone has a built-in “cold-storage” crypto wallet, distributed ledger consensus, and secure peer-to-peer resource sharing. Let’s understand what is meant by cold storage? From a security perspective, there are two kinds of cryptocurrency wallets: “hot” wallets and “cold” storage. Both kinds of wallets store cryptographic private keys, but hot wallets are online and thus more easily hackable while, on the other hand, cold wallets are kept offline except for a brief window when funds need to be transferred. A hot wallet might be an app, and a cold wallet may take the form of a USB drive or a dedicated hardware device. For example, the cold storage in the Finney phone is cordoned off from the rest of the device, and to spend cryptocurrency from the phone, the user is required to flip out a second screen that activates that part of the phone. Cold storage has the benefit of making you feel safer and therefore making you store more funds than you would in a hot wallet. But there is an added risk of losing your cold storage if you misplace your phone.

Therefore, if a user loses his phone, then he may permanently lose access to his keys in cold storage.

3. The third blockchain-based smartphone in the market is XPhone, launched by a Singapore based Blockchain device manufacturer named Pundi X. XPhone will let users switch between a traditional mode that supports Android apps and a “Blockchain mode,” which will grant access to decentralized apps (dApps) loaded on the device. This smartphone also allows users to make calls, send messages, and transmit data through a fully decentralized Blockchain network.

4. Other Blockchain phones include Samsung KlaytnPhone, LG’s blockchain phone, etc. Solana is also planning to launch its Blockchain phone Solana Saga.

As the cryptocurrency and Blockchain industries continue to grow, it’s likely that we’ll see more Blockchain phones in the market.

If you liked this article and want to know more about Blockchain, NFTs, Metaverse, and their applications, click the below link.

Happy learning!



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