Ledger Hardware Wallets

Ledger is one of the most promising companies in the space, offering 3 different high-quality Bitcoin hardware wallets. The company was launched in 2014 by cryptocurrency and security specialists in France.

Ledger has expanded and it is one of Trezor’s closest competitors, offering innovative features on its products. Its wallets are known for enhanced hardware security features and their design. 

Ledger Offers Cryptographically Protected Chips

In an effort to find an edge in the Bitcoin hardware wallet market, Ledger brought several key components into the market. Its specialized secure chip, called Secure Element, is the lynch pin of Ledger’s strategy to compete with Trezor.

According to Ledger, these chips provide the highest level of security available in terms of hardware. Trezor uses standard chips.

The Ledger Nano S Hardware Wallet. It looks like a run of the mill USB key when closed.

This Secure Element provides an additional layer of security, in case the hardware wallet falls into the wrong hands, or a malicious actor nearby tries to attack it. There are three main types of attack that Ledger’s Secure Element protects against:

  • Side Channel or Shazam Attack – in which the attacker scans power consumption to figure out a pattern that will lead to figuring out a cryptographic key. Just like Shazam uses a piece of information from a song to match it to an extensive database to figure out which song is playing, the same can be done with power consumption within a device
  • Fault attacks – in which attackers try to apply changes to the hardware while the hardware is running. It works by forcing errors or forcing faulty hardware behavior
  • Software attacks – a wide variety of attacks to expose or alter information through software that expose vulnerabilities in the system

Other Innovative Features that Ledger Offers

Apart from its Secure Element, Ledger wallets offer a wide range of innovative features. The Nano X for example, has a Bluetooth connection which allows users to pair it with their mobile devices wirelessly.

The Ledger Nano S is especially inconspicuous; much less noticeable than a Trezor.

Another interesting feature of Ledger Nano S and Nano X devices is that they look much more like USB keys than any other hardware wallet in the space. This allows them to fool anyone who doesn’t know what it is they are looking at when they see one of these wallets.

Similarities Between Ledger and Trezor

Despite all the ways in which Ledger tries to compete with Trezor and stand out in the market, there are some features that both hardware wallets share.

Ledger Nano S and X models both have two buttons through which the user can give the device commands. In the case of the Ledger wallets though, The buttons have more functionality than they do on the Trezor One.

Apart from those features, here are some other aspects in which both Trezor and Ledger wallets are similar:

  • They both have a browser interface
  • Ledger devices also support a wide variety of cryptocurrencies
  • 24-word seeds and recovery from seed processes are similar

Ledger Hardware Wallet Chrome Extension

Ledger wallets have a different browser interface system. They require a Chrome extension to operate. Apart from that, users have to install each wallet – for Bitcoin and other altcoins – separately. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach.

The clearest advantage is that users don’t get options that they don’t want to see on their display because they only install the wallets they want to use. The disadvantage is that Ledger devices have limitations when it comes to the number of different wallets a user can install, whereas other hardware devices have unlimited capacity.

Ledger Nano S and X Buttons

Once installed, users will be able to browse through their wallets with the buttons on the device. Each wallet they select has a different interface on the Chrome extension and must be accessed separately.

Ledger Nano S and X also have more on device processes than other hardware wallets. Therefore, the buttons are crucial to do the following:

  • Enter your pin – all the digits must be entered on the device using the buttons to scroll up and down numbers from 0 to 9 on each slot
  • Navigate through wallets – different wallets have different on device options that can only be enabled via Ledger buttons
  • Check, confirm and cancel operations – these features work much in the same way that they do on other brands

Ledger Drawbacks

Despite having more on device functions – which at least gives users an added sense of security – Ledger devices do have a few drawbacks:

  • They must be used through a Chrome extension whereas other hardware wallets operate through multiple browsers
  • At times, Ledger Nano S devices can’t send or receive funds properly if you have your VPN on

Additional Ledger Nano S and X Functions

Whether the advantages are greater than the drawbacks or not, is for every user to decide. In any case, Ledger Nano S and Nano X wallets both act as a 2FA key. They also have a password manager and users can place additional passphrase protection within the wallets on individual accounts.

Both can interface with Android phones through the right cable – in the case of the Nano X through Bluetooth as well – which makes these wallets highly versatile.

Probably the most underrated feature of the Ledger Nano S – and of the Ledger Nano X to a lesser extent – is its appearance. It looks just like a USB flash drive. This allows the device to go unnoticed more easily. Other hardware wallets do not have that advantage.

Ledger Blue

The Ledger Blue is a good example of a more conspicuous Bitcoin hardware wallet. This device is considerably heavier than the Ledger Nano S and the Ledger Nano X. it is also considerably larger, with a touchscreen and a frame that is almost 10 cm long and 7 cm wide. 

Its advantages though, are worth it if you are an advanced user. This device allows you to install 11 unique apps, which makes it the only hardware wallet that offers such a feature. It also supports 30 cryptocurrencies whereas the smaller Nano series supports only 23.

Which Ledger Device Should I Buy?

Considering all these pros and cons, we recommend the Ledger Nano S for most users. It is Ledger’s simplest, smallest and less conspicuous device. Its price is also quite competitive.

The Ledger Nano S is slightly cheaper than the Trezor One, which gives it an edge if you don’t mind operating through Google extensions on chrome.

In any case, whichever Ledger device you chose to buy, you are guaranteed to get a high-quality hardware wallet. Ledger’s customer service is also great, so as long as you use the device according to the instructions, you know that if there is a hardware malfunction the company will respond immediately.