Ledger has recently unveiled a new hardware wallet called the Nano X, and it comes with an all-new look, and also has a few perks and features that are not available in the older version, the Nano S.
So, if you’re looking a get a new Ledger device — no matter if it’s for the first time or as an upgrade from the last version — this article will try to help you decide which Ledger device is best for you.
Similarities between Ledger Nano S and Nano X
At their core, both Ledger Nano S and Nano X are hardware crypto wallets built on the same principle – to provide the ease of cryptocurrency transactions as offered by hot wallets, as well as the security offered by cold storage solutions.
Both devices use the dual-chip architecture — a 32-bit general purpose micro-controller for general operations, and a bank-grade Secure Element to store the wallet private keys securely.
The older Nano S uses the general purpose STM32F042K general purpose micro-controller and the ST31H320 Secure Element, whereas the Nano X uses the newer STM32WB55 (general purpose) and ST33J2M0 (Secure Element) chips. Both the devices also score the same Common Criteria (CC) EAL5+ certification level based on their chip architecture.
So what’s really different in the new Nano X? Well, there are a few pretty significant differences. But whether they matter is entirely up to you.
Differences between Ledger Nano S and Nano X
The Ledger Nano X improves on both design and functionality over its older brother, the Nano S, without compromising on the device’s security. Let’s take a closer look at the differences.
Look & Feel: The first thing you would notice about the Ledger Nano X is that it is a bit larger and heavier than its predecessor. Build-wise, both the devices have a similar brushed stainless steel and plastic finish. Overall, the Nano X looks and feels a bit more premium compared to its predecessor in our opinion.
The Display: It also has a significantly larger screen, which in turn allows room for more information to be displayed simultaneously. For example, The Nano S’ smaller display would require to scroll through the receiver’s address during a transaction confirmation, as its display was not large enough to show the whole address. In Nano X, the whole address can be displayed on the screen without scrolling, which is much more convenient and provides a faster way to verify the data at a glance.
Nav Buttons: The navigation/confirmation buttons have also been modified. Instead of the two buttons on the side of the device as in Nano S, now the two buttons reside on either side of the display. And they are quite large, feel more durable, and are convenient to click using the two thumbs.
Under the hood, there are a few prominent differences. The Nano X has a built-in 100 mAh battery, and the STM32WB series of micro-controllers are wireless chips with Bluetooth 5.0 support.
That means, the Nano X supports wireless operations over Bluetooth, and now you can use it with the Ledger Live app to send, receive and view transactions on both desktop as well as mobile, without requiring you to connect via a USB cable.
In fact, the wireless portability feature is one of the most distinguishing features of the Nano X, and also arguably Ledger’s MSP for this device. With the Nano X, you could now walk into a store with the device in your pocket, and make a transaction wirelessly with the help of the Ledger Live app on your iPhone or Android device.
Of course, it also has the modern USB Type C connector (instead of micro USB found in the Nano S), so, if needed, you can also use it the old-fashioned way by plugging it to your computer.
The Ledger Nano X also has a lot more storage compared to its predecessor. According to the company, the Ledger Nano X can hold more than 100 apps, each supporting a different cryptocurrency. In fact, as of this writing, you can install all of the apps currently available in the Ledger Store, on your Nano X device. In comparison, the Ledger Nano S supports less than 10 apps installed on the device at a time.
Note: Deleting an app from a Ledger device does not impact any of your assets. With the Ledger Live app for desktop and mobile devices, you can view the balance and transaction history of all your wallets tied to the Ledger seed. However, you need to install the specific apps on your Ledger Nano (applicable to both S or X) device in order to create and sign new transactions in the blockchain of that particular cryptocurrency.
Along with the additional features, the Ledger Nano X also comes with a hefty price hike compared to the older model. You can get a Nano S for €59.00 but will cost you more than double, €119,00, if you purchase the Nano X device.
The price of the two devices makes it more important for you to consider each of the differentiating factors between the two devices, before zeroing-in on to a single choice.
Ledger Nano X — Convenience v/s Risk Factor
As mentioned earlier, the Nano X now lets you perform transactions on the go through wireless connectivity with mobile devices. This could be a convenience as well as a risk, depending on where you live.
Of course, you can pay at stores with the mobile app whenever and wherever you want. But then, there’s also the chance that someone who knows that you carry a Ledger device around in your pocket, might coerce you at gunpoint, to give away your crypto funds.
To get out of this sort of a situation, you could use Ledger’s advanced passphrase security option to attach a custom passphrase to a new PIN code, which in turn creates a new set of accounts on your Ledger device based on a secret passphrase of your choice.
With this option turned on, you can access a different set of accounts on the same Ledger device, based on the PIN that you provide at the beginning of the session.
Thus, you could use one set of accounts as a store of value, while keeping another set with limited funds for day to day transactions. If anyone coerces you to transfer crypto assets while on the move, you could simply pretend that this temporarily funded set of accounts actually contains all your assets. The alternative set of accounts holding the majority of your assets remain hidden and unknown to the perpetrator.
Enable advanced passphrase security
Follow the steps below to attach a secret passphrase to a secondary PIN.
- Go to Ledger’s Security Settings >> Passphrase >> Attach a PIN.
- Create a secondary PIN code.
- Re-enter the secondary PIN code to confirm.
- Enter a custom secret passphrase and then re-enter it to confirm.
The device will continue to manage the primary set of accounts based on the recovery phrase without the secret passphrase. Restart the device and enter the secondary PIN to access the passphrase protected accounts.
Note: You need to remember or store the secret passphrase in a secure location. To recover any passphrase protected account during setup, you need to provide both your recovery seed as well as the secret passphrase.
Both the Ledger Nano S and the Nano X support advanced passphrase security. This feature is specific to Ledger devices only and is not supported by any other BIP39 compatible hardware wallet.
Which Ledger device should you go for?
The answer to this depends on your day to day usage of crypto-assets. If you handle transactions between multiple cryptocurrencies frequently, the larger storage of the Nano X should be more convenient rather than the limited storage offered by the Nano S.
Also, if you need to frequently perform crypto-transactions on the go, Nano X might be the more convenient option, thanks to the Bluetooth 5.0 support.
If you’re going to purchase a Ledger Nano device for the first time, you should consider the above factors while choosing between the Nano S and Nano X.
And if you’re already a Nano S user, you should consider the above factors to determine whether the differences are enough to convince yourself to shell out more than double the price for the upgrade.