Trezor vs Ledger
Which cryptocurrency hardware wallet comes out on top?
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Trezor and Ledger have coexisted as the leading manufacturers of two of the most popular cryptocurrency hardware wallets in the world since 2014.
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They're still releasing new products, and this guide compares each of their bestsellers to see how they stack up against one another.
The prices and information used in this comparison is accurate as of 5 February 2019.
How does each compare on:
Trezor vs Ledger: The numbers
Ledger Nano S
Ledger Nano X
Trezor Model T
|Display||128x32 pixel OLED screen||128x64 pixel OLED screen||128x64 pixel OLED screen||240x240 pixel colour RGB LCD touchscreen|
|Processor||Secure element chips||ARM Cortex-M3 processor @ 120Mhz|
(embedded on STM32 F microcontroller)
|Secure element chips||ARM Cortex-M4 processor|
|Connection||USB||USB, WebUSB||USB, Bluetooth||USB-C, WebUSB|
|Compatibility||PC||PC, Mobile||PC, Mobile||PC, Mobile|
|Backup||12-24 word seed phrase||24-word seed phrase||12-24 word seed phrase||12-24 word seed phrase|
|Operating temperatures||-25°C to 50°C||-20°C to 60°C||0°C to 40°C||-20°C to 60°C|
Ledger Nano X vs Trezor Model T
|Trezor Model T||2018||EUR€149 (AUD$239)|
|Ledger Nano X||2019||AUD$199|
The latest Ledger has a solid price advantage over the Trezor, coming in at about $40 cheaper. And you can find even lower prices on older models.
Ledger Nano S vs Trezor One
|Trezor One||2014||EUR€69 (AUD$110)|
|Ledger Nano S||2014||AUD$109|
On these too, the Ledger comes in a fraction cheaper. This is par for the course for Ledger, which has cemented its position in the market in part by being one of the cheapest full-featured hardware wallets around.
Across both generations, the Ledger comes in at a better price. With free shipping on top of that, Ledger ends up even further ahead.
Both Ledger and Trezor have maintained similar security records across their devices.
|Trezor Model T|
|Ledger Nano S|
|Ledger Nano X|
Both wallets have similar security track records, but they're secured in quite different ways.
- Trezor hardware wallets. These forego the use of secure elements, opting instead for general purpose microprocessors, with open-source wallet design and firmware.
- Ledger hardware wallets. These use secure elements in the wallets themselves, while the firmware itself remains closed source for now.
These differences have some practical consequences. The main one is that it's possible for someone with the right know-how and equipment to break into a Trezor hardware wallet and steal the funds. This can be prevented by using a sufficiently complex password. The password needs to be kept safe, as you won't be able to access your funds if you lose or forget your password.
The same issue extends to other brands of hardware wallet, such as KeepKey. But far as is publicly known, Ledger hardware wallets don't have this problem.
The upshot is that Trezor wallets require a password to be fully secure, while Ledger wallets don't. You can still add passwords to the Ledger though. In both wallets, you can set multiple passwords to unlock different sub-wallets, letting you set duress passwords or create multiple "accounts" on the same wallet.
Trezor maintains that
- Ledger is incautiously over-reliant on secure elements as a "guarantee" of security.
- Ledger's firmware is not open source, so its security may depend on secrecy.
- No piece of hardware is 100% secure and the illusion of complete security is dangerous.
Ledger rebuts these claims by saying
- The use of secure elements is considered industry best practice for a reason.
- Trezor's claim to open-source firmware creates a false distinction, because you can't confirm what type of firmware is used in a Trezor wallet without destroying it.
- The reason Ledger's firmware isn't open source is because of non-disclosure agreements, not because it relies on secrecy for security.
Trezor's open-sourcing does offer a degree of reassurance that's absent from Ledger. However, it's not the be all and end all. The need to password-protect Trezor wallets creates a new way of potentially losing funds, through lost passwords, which arguably makes Ledger wallets more secure.
Ledger's higher sales figures could present another point in its favour. If there are more Ledger devices on the market, there's more certainty of it being "unhackable" in the wild. Plus, Ledger is in the process of open-sourcing its firmware, although to date it's been slow going.
Also, Trezor did have an actual vulnerability at once point back in 2015, while as far as anyone knows Ledger never has. It was quickly fixed after discovery, but involved using an oscilloscope to analyse the device's power usage in a way that would let an attacker decipher private keys.
Security researchers found similar vulnerabilities in Trezor wallets in 2019, along with the discovery that Trezor wallets need to be password-protected to actually be "unhackable."
Ease of use
One of the main usability features on hardware wallets is the size and clarity of the screen, and both the Trezor and the Ledger have made significant upgrades to their screen in the most recent generation.
|Trezor One||128x64 pixels|
|Trezor Model T||240x240 pixels|
|Ledger Nano S||128x32 pixels|
|Ledger Nano X||128x64 pixels|
The Trezor Model T, in particular, is distinguished by its uncommonly large screen.
The reason a large screen can make hardware wallets easier to use is because you need to be able to clearly read details (such as wallet addresses) on the screen to confirm them against what's on your phone or computer when you're sending funds.
This larger screen size does equal a slightly bulkier shape though.
|Trezor Model T||64x39x10mm||16g|
|Ledger Nano X||72x18.6x11.75mm||34g|
The Trezor is a squarer device than the Ledger, although it's less than half the weight. In either case, though, they're both small enough that you'd be hard-pressed to really feel the difference.
Other than the dimensions, the primary difference when actually using the devices might be that the Trezor has a touchscreen while the Ledger has physical buttons instead.
The larger colour touch screen brings more intuitiveness to the Trezor Model T.
|Wallet||Number of cryptocurrencies supported|
Software-wise, Ledger and Trezor both offer a degree of standardisation for their devices by providing programs specially designed to pair with the wallets. When you want to use a specific currency, you can download the individual cryptocurrency "app" for your wallet.
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