Shift Crypto Security is a Swiss company active in the cryptocurrency sector, known for having launched its BitBox01 hardware wallet a few years ago. During 2019 the company announced two new products. The first – the focus of today’s review – is the new BitBox02 hardware wallet, announced last February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and made available on the market on September 25th.
The second is a unique device – BitBox Base – that acts as a full node for the Bitcoin network, thus allowing users to contribute to the BTC network with a simple, low power consumption and, above all, ready-to-use solution, even for less experienced users.
This review will address the new BitBox02 hardware wallet, a very interesting solution that aims to compete with the different solutions on the market, including the new Ledger Nano X, the old Nano S and the products of Trezor and other brands.
At the moment this hardware wallet supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and some ERC20 tokens, including USDT, BAT, Chainlink, Maker, DAI and 0x.
Review of the BitBox02 hardware wallet
The new BitBox02 hardware wallet has been available on the market for about ten days and is sold on the official website in two variants: the standard version and the Bitcoin-only version. The price of both variants is 109 CHF, about 100 euros at the current exchange rate. To this figure must be added about 14 euros of shipping.
At the moment the product is only available on the official Shift Crypto Security store.
Small premise: this review has been carried out on a version of the hardware wallet intended for beta testing of the product, thus not the final one, even if the installed firmware is the same as the one present on the commercial version of BitBox02.
According to what the company communicated, the final version of the product has been improved in order to enhance the build quality and solve some defects reported by the beta testers.
Packaging and accessories
BitBox02 comes in a simple package, wrapped in a tamper-proof plastic bag that acts as a security seal. If the device happens to be without such an envelope, do not use the product, as it may have been tampered with.
Inside there is the device, a USB-to-USB-Type-C cable, an adapter from USB-Type-C port to classic USB plug, a microSD with a case, some laces, the classic introductory manual and several stickers.
Unlike other products, there are no classic sheets to write the SEED, and soon it will be discovered why. As reported in the included user manual, there is a simple online tutorial to carry out the initial setup of the hardware wallet.
Build, design and interface
The BitBox02 is slightly smaller and more compact than the Ledger Nano X considering the size, equal to 54.5 x 25.4 x 9.6 mm against the 72 x 18.6 x 11.75 mm of the Ledger Nano X.
The difference is very small, although the weight (12 vs 34 grams of the Nano X), significantly accentuates the feeling of compactness of the BitBox02.
The build of the product is made entirely of black plastic, which proved to be quite solid even in this non-final test unit.
Unlike the other hardware wallets tested so far, BitBox02 does not have any physical keys. In addition, there is a USB-Type-C plug directly in the shell, allowing the device to be connected directly without cables to smartphones or new laptops. This allows to significantly reduce the size and simplify the design of the device.
The company has chosen to adopt the USB-Type-C standard to allow the use of the hardware wallet on the move in the future, by means of a mobile app that the manufacturer is already working on, connecting it directly to a modern Android smartphone, without using cables, adapters and Bluetooth connectivity.
In addition to the USB-Type-C plug, however, there is also a slot in which the microSD card supplied can be inserted. This slot is located on the rear profile and allows users to back up their SEED directly to the microSD card.
For this very reason, the package does not include any paper on which to write the SEED, as it can be saved on the supplied microSD and then stored in a safe place, away from the hardware wallet.
The top of the device features a large OLED screen, which allows the user to operate the device safely and comfortably. In fact, all the information concerning the transaction confirmation, the receiving addresses, the SEED (if required) and all the other information will be displayed on the screen.
The screen has a resolution of 128 x 64 pixels (higher than the new Ledger Nano X), more than enough to display the transaction data and the characters required for access.
The peculiarity of this device is the interaction between the user and the device. Given the absence of keys, Shift Crypto Security has decided to introduce touch commands, located on the lateral ends of the hardware wallet. By sliding your fingers along the two main edges it is possible to control and use the device.
At first glance, it wasn’t a very straightforward solution, but after a couple of uses, it proved to be very convenient and certainly more practical than the classic two-button approach seen on the Ledger Nano devices and many other products.
This has allowed the company to partially improve the security of the wallet, as it is possible to choose up to 8 characters between upper- and lower-case letters and numbers for the unlocking password.
The great thing is that typing an alphanumeric password, thanks to the touch interface and the UI, becomes really practical and fast. In fact, compared to the need to scroll through all the available options with two keys, requiring a lot of time, it is possible to simply click on the various groups of numbers and letters several times by placing or sliding the fingers along the edges.
This approach is very reminiscent of writing an SMS in the pre-smartphone era, where all the numbers and letters were grouped into just 9 keys. Most probably it is this simple but intuitive concept that inspired the company, offering a good and practical interface and interaction between user and device.
Software and user experience
Shift Crypto Security has made available on its website the application for Windows, Mac OS and Linux computers. The application is rather simple and minimal, making it intuitive to use.
The interface is structured differently than the solution proposed by Ledger but, as on the latter, there is a clearly defined section dedicated to the wallets of the various cryptocurrencies and a slightly more technical section with all the advanced settings.
After opening the app, carrying out the initialisation of the hardware wallet connected to the PC and unlocking the device, a dashboard will be displayed, showing the balance in both bitcoin and other currencies.
From the home, it is possible to create a receiving address by clicking on the Receive button or to carry out a transaction by clicking on the Send button. In both cases, it is possible to check the receiving and sending addresses from the screen of the hardware wallet itself.
Obviously, when the user intends to carry out an outgoing transaction, it is necessary to give the final confirmation from the hardware wallet, necessary to sign and transmit the actual transaction.
On the left side of the graphical interface, there is a section where it is possible to switch between the various wallets of the different cryptocurrencies, while at the bottom it is possible to manage the device or modify some options related to the UI of the App.
For example, it is possible to enable support for some Ethereum ERC20 tokens, obtain advanced transaction control, choose the BTC address type (SegWit, Bench32 or Legacy), back up the SEED to the microSD, display the SEED on the device and much more.
It is also possible to connect the hardware wallet management application to a proprietary or specific Bitcoin or Litecoin node (for now this feature is missing on Ethereum). The section dedicated to the firmware updates of the device is also available.
So, despite the rather simple application, there is no lack of features for more experienced users.
At the moment the standard version of the hardware wallet supports Bitcoin, Ethereum (in beta), Litecoin and some ERC20 tokens, which include USDT, BAT, Chainlink, Maker, DAI and 0x.
Shift Crypto Security’s BitBox02 is definitely an interesting hardware wallet.
However, the target of this product is mostly the pure bitcoin users, who are not interested in other cryptocurrencies, if not the main coins and tokens that the wallet is able to support.
Precisely for this reason, the company has thought well to create two variants of such a device: one intended only for bitcoin and one with support for other altcoins.
In terms of operation, the device performs as it should and is already designed to be used with the future Android application, which will make this wallet fully usable by smartphones.
After all, the choice of inserting a USB-Type-C plug has been purposely made for this kind of use, in order to make the product competitive with the notorious Ledger Nano X.
The interface and the interaction mechanism with the wallet are very nice and ingenious, allowing users to use the device in a simple, precise and fast way, as well as offering better possibilities for the choice of the password.
The BitBox02 has been available on the market for about ten days and can be purchased on the official website for 109 CHF, or about 100 euros at current the exchange rate.