KeepKey Hardware Wallet Review (2020): Is it still worth buying?

The KeepKey wallet was released in 2015. Retailing for USD$49, it is a hardware wallet that digital asset holders can use to store their cryptocurrencies safely. This is a relatively affordable price tag compared to its competitors. But its lacking features and security issues do make it lag behind in the cryptocurrency hardware wallet competition.

KeepKey hardware wallet
KeepKey hardware wallet

The wallet supports well over 40 different types of cryptocurrencies. However, the wallet does not have the reputation of its competitors: the Ledger Nano S, Ledger Nano X and Trezor Model T. Regardless, the wallet still features certain structural and aesthetic features that could make it a decent option.

KeepKey was founded by Darin Stanchfield in 2014 and they are headquartered in the US. The Company became the first ever hardware wallet to integrate with an exchange with its partnership with Shapeshift in 2016. At the moment, Shapeshift Company has acquired the project but Darin stills retains the CEO role.

Key features of the KeepKey:

  • Larger screen– Displays full cryptocurrency addresses without scrolling
  • Weighty luxury feel– Smooth finish and does not feel like it would break easily.

This multicurrency wallet can provide you a less costly alternative with a lot of the features of premium hardware wallets. Despite lacking the reputation of its counterparts, its beautiful design and ease of use still makes it a contender in the cryptocurrency wallet market.

Packaging

KeepKey comes with a unique product design and packaging. The box already has security seals on two sides to confirm it has not been tampered. Inside the box, you will find the KeepKey wallet, a USB cable to connect it with your computer and a card to write your recovery sentence on. A leather case is also included to store your card safely.

The wallet also features a 2nd screen protection like Trezor which guards against Keystroke spying.

At the time of launch in 2015, KeepKey retailed a high price. With more established competitors, the price is now considerably lower at US$79.

This is more affordable than the Ledger Nano X at US$119 and Trezor Model T at US$173, albeit they are newer.

Security Features

KeepKey stores your private keys in a a separate offline environment. This means it will be unaffected if your computer is infected with viruses.

In addition, the KeepKey can be protected by PIN code and backed up with 18 to 24 word recovery seeds. These features however are basically expected in hardware wallets nowadays with both the Ledger and Trezor having the same.

Specifically, the KeepKey has number randomisation to prevent hackers from stealing your cryptocurrencies with malware. This is where the location of the PIN numbers is randomised each time.

KeepKey has PIN number randomisation
KeepKey has PIN number randomisation

KeepKey however does not go into any further details on their security features.

Update: KeepKey PIN vulnerability discovered by Ledger team

Ledger (yes the ones behind the Ledger Nano X) has previously discovered a physical vulnerability in the Trezor and KeepKey hardware wallets which allows hackers to access to your recovery phrase in less than 5 minutes if they physically have your device. Unfortunately this vulnerability appears to be completely unfixable as it relates to how the devices are manufactured. Here we discuss this vulnerability in a bit more detail in relation to the Trezor.

Now the Ledger team have discovered another vulnerability, this time in relation to PIN verification. This hack involves creating a database of the differing voltage output compared with the secret values mixed with the PIN code stored in the KeepKey’s memory. This database can then be used to recover the secret values in any KeepKey device. So if a hacker has physical access to your KeepKey, they can connect your device to read your chip’s voltage output and compare it against the database. From there the hacker can recover your PIN code.

ShapeShift, the manufacturers of the KeepKey have patched the PIN verification vulnerability in their firmware version 6.4.1. Despite this, we have still had to revise our security rating from 3.5 to 3 out of 5 for the KeepKey, as the physical vulnerability remains unfixable.

3/5 Security Rating

Multi-currency support

Keepkey natively supports 7 of the most common cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, DASH, Dogecoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. Including ERC-20 tokens it supports over 40 coins.

Latest list of KeepKey's supported cryptocurrencies.
List of KeepKey’s supported cryptocurrencies.

This is far less than the over 1000+ cryptocurrencies supported by KeepKey’s competitors.

At the release of my video in August 2018 comparing the Trezor Model T, Ledger Nano S and the KeepKey, the latter did not support ERC-20 tokens.

However KeepKey does continuously work on developing their firmware and ERC-20 tokens are now supported.

There are also complaints that KeepKey is slow to update on supported cryptocurrencies. For example, Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision (SV) was created out of the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) hard fork on 15 November 2018. However to date i.e. 6 months later, there is still no support for it by KeepKey.

2.5/5 Multi Currency Support

Hardware Design

Size comparison: KeepKey vs Trezor vs Ledger
Size comparison: KeepKey vs Trezor vs Ledger

The KeepKey is one of the largest cryptocurrency hardware wallets at 38 x 93.5 x 12.2 mm. It also has a substantial feel making it more luxurious than other cryptocurrency wallets. However some people, myself included, would prefer smaller sized wallets.

The KeepKey also boasts a simple design by only having 1 button.

One may be concerned that having only 1 button will mean that it will take ages to set up the recovery seed and enter PIN numbers. However the KeepKey makes it simpler by having most of the processes done via its app. The button is generally only used for on/off and as a confirmation button.

The KeepKey also has the largest display screen sporting a 256×64mm 3.12″ OLED screen. The screen is protected by a polycarbonate casing although its still easy to scratch. The scratches however are only cosmetic and do not affect the use of the device.

The benefit of this large display screen means it can display cryptocurrency addresses and even the recovery phrase in its entirety. This saves users from scrolling back and forth which is a huge plus.

The KeepKey uses USB-A interface for charging and connecting to the PC. Windows users would surely prefer this. One problem with Ledger Nano S devices is that the USB-A connection becomes unstable after prolonged use. However it is unknown whether this is also a problem in the KeepKey wallet because frankly, we do not use it often.

Installation

The process is similar and simpler than other hardware wallets.

You simply download the KeepKey Google Chrome extension from the Google Playstore and connect your device.

Instructions on the screen are pretty basic and it takes less than 5 minutes. Ensure that you finish the setup with a pin and recovery phrase.

It goes without saying that when writing down the recovery phrase; ensure there are no cameras recording and do not save a copy of it onto your computer. This is because anyone with the recovery phrase can use it to restore your device and potentially steal your assets.

4/5 for Hardware Design
4/5 of Ease of Use

Shapeshift Integration

The main selling point of the KeepKey is its integration with Shapeshift. This means that the wallet already has an in crypto to crypto exchange inside. This makes trading between cryptocurrencies easy and convenient.

This feature is held back by its limited cryptocurrency support. However it should not be a problem to users who do not intend to trade in any cryptocurrencies other than the major ones supported by Shapeshift.

KeepKey client interface
KeepKey client interface

Verdict: Is the KeepKey still worth buying in 2020?

The KeepKey lags behind in the luxury hardware wallet competition compared to the Trezor Model T and Ledger Nano X. They do have a robust physical design and easy installation process, but severely lacking in coin support. Security wise, ShapeShift is simply not as open or detailed as other manufacturers in explaining how their device can keep your cryptocurrencies safe- which can be a bit of a warning sign. Further, whilst their newest firmware update has fixed the recently discovered PIN code vulnerability, there are other vulnerabilities which directly relate to the KeepKey’s hardware and is not fixable.

For casual trader or newcomers to crypto, they may not want to spend that much on a hardware wallet. And whilst the KeepKey is the most affordable wallet at USD$49, the security issues are enough to make consumers seriously consider spending an extra USD$10 for a Ledger Nano S which is more secure and compact.

So is the KeepKey still worth buying in 2020? The answer is sadly, no.

Reviewed on 30 May 2019 by Angela Wang
Updated on 25 May 2020 in relation to the latest security vulnerabilities.

Security Rating: 3/5
Multi-currency support: 2.5/5
Hardware design: 4/5
Ease of use: 4/5
Final Score: 3.38/5

KeepKey Product Specifications (Technical Specifications)

ProcessorsARM Cortex-M3 processor
Compatibility64-bits desktop computer (Windows 8+, macOS 10.8+, Linux). Also compatible with Android smartphones.

Connector
USB micro-B
Security CertificationNil
SizeSize: 38 x 93.5 x 12.2 mm 
Weight: 54g
Supported Assets40+ Supported assets

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Security Rating
Multi-currency support
Hardware design
Ease of use

SUMMARY

KeepKey sadly lags behind in the hardware wallet competition. They do have a robust physical design and easy installation process, but is severely lacking in coin support. Security wise, ShapeShift is simply not as open as their competitors in explaining their security measures and the device has vulnerabilities which aren't fixable. They do have an affordable price tag, but customers may want to spend a little bit more for a much better device elsewhere.
Angela Wang
Angela loves cryptocurrency, technology that improves our lives...and food. Anything that merges these worlds together is even better.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Totally worth it in 2019 if you are a Shapeshift member and can get one for $10 USD with free US shipping 😉 (limited time discount for international shipping right now too!)

    I’m in my 2nd year of crypto and wanted a hardware wallet since day 1 but could never afford one.

    I’ve been a Shapeshift member since their alpha days, so a Keepkey fits me perfectly 😉

  2. Both KeepKey and ShapeShift are a catastrophy : I spent 2 hours (!!!) with a Shapeshift representative to get the KeepKey to connect, which failed less than two hours afterwards. The KK wallet is not any safer than any other connected wallet (since it IS connected to SS, for the reason than there is no more local client for KK).
    SS wouldn’t consider sending me another KK to see if it worked.
    So I paid 170€ for a glorified (and admittedly sleek looking) USB key…that I’m literally going to throw away (too late to send it back).
    Lost the money…but not the lesson. Will never use SS or KK again.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stay Connected

13,855FollowersFollow
106,100FollowersFollow
216,000SubscribersSubscribe
- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

Developing story: OKEx suspends withdrawals…but is there more to this?

What happened? On 16th October 2020 OKEx suddenly announced that one of their private key holders (later confirmed to...

Stacks ($STX): Bringing Bitcoin’s security to decentralised apps

Stacks ($STX) (formerly Blockstack) is an open-source network that allows developers to easily build decentralised applications (such as decentralised finance DeFi applications)...

Linear Finance ($LINA): The future of synthetic exchange platforms?

Linear Finance ($LINA) understands that decentralized finance (DeFi) has opened new possibilities for derivative offerings and that many exchanges have the apparent...

Ledger Nano X Review: Best Bitcoin Wallet of 2020?

Ledger Nano X is the next generation of Hardware wallet with smartphone support, a larger screen and more storage space for Apps....

Ledger Nano S Review (2020): Bitcoin Wallet on a Budget?

Ledger Nano S is the most popular cryptocurrency hardware wallet (more than 1.4 Million units sold). The Nano S is the most...