Ledger Nano S is the most popular cryptocurrency hardware wallet (more than 1.4 Million units sold). The Nano S is the most secure and affordable option to store cryptocurrencies. This review will help you decide if the Ledger Nano S is the right hardware wallet for you, looking into elements like security, design, mobility and supported coins. This year, Ledger released a new model called the Ledger Nano X. However, the Nano S is not obsolete – it’s now got a cheaper price tag of $59.
Who is the Ledger Nano S for:
- Cryptocurrency investors is a secure method to keep their coins safe and secure from hackers
- Beginners who want an affordable hardware wallet
One of the key reasons to buy Ledger hardware wallets is the firms reputation for security. Cryptocurrencies hardware wallets are like bank accounts – they contain full access to funds and need banking grade security. Ledger Nano S contains two hardware chips:
- Secure Element: ST31H320 (secure) is independently certified CC EAL5+ and stores the private key and signs transactions
- Operating system: STM32F042 chip is responsible for Ledger’s BOLOS proprietary Operating System.
Secure elements are separate pieces of hardware (second layer of security) with their own storage and limited functionality that cannot be breached by hackers.
Even if your computer is hacked or compromised, the Ledger will still keep your cryptocurrencies secure. Devices like the Trezor One and Trezor Model T have chosen not have secure elements and only have a single layer of security.
The Nano X and Nano S are also the only cryptocurrency hardware wallets on the market to received CSPN (First Level Security Certificate) certification issued by the ANSSI (National Agency for Information Systems Security). The certification scheme evaluates multiple aspects of a device’s security including firewall, identification, authentication and embedded software by putting it through multiple attack scenarios.
Similar to the Nano X, users can also protect their funds using a PIN code and passphrase. The PIN code is to generally unlock your device to use it. Whilst you can also set up wallets protected by a passphrase in addition to your primary PIN code.
So say you are threatened to unlock your device, you can give them the PIN code to access wallets with fewer funds. Meanwhile, the bulk of your crypto assets are contained in passphrase protected wallets.
With firmware version 1.6., the security of the Nano S has been further enhanced.
- Randomised order of digits and symbols for PIN code entry. So other people can no longer guess your PIN code by counting how many times you click the buttons.
- The device’s operating system chip will be updated by its secure element. Ledger says this will increase the security of the update process and improve user experience.
- Added screen jitter and partial screen aversion. This update was Ledger’s response to comments that hackers may be able to recover confidential information displayed on the device’s OLED screen by measuring its power consumption. Below are two pictures showing the power consumption of the device before and after the firmware update.
Using the device after the update, we find that being unable to enter PIN code digits in order anymore may be prove slightly inconvenient. However with cryptocurrencies, security always comes up top over convenience. And with the added partial screen inversion, we see that Ledger’s bounty program is not just a PR stunt. Ledger actually looked into submissions and made the security improvements even when the suggested hack was only hypothetical.
Even before the firmware update the Nano S scored full marks on security. The updates show that this score was well deserved.
5/5 Security Rating
Multi Currency Support
Ledger has one of the most diverse support for different cryptocurrencies such as NEO, Vechain and Monero. With their open policy to development from project teams, the Ledger Nano S supports 1100+ different assets. Many of these assets like Vechain or NEO are not found on competitors like the Trezor Model T or KeepKey, making Ledger the only hardware wallet available for many coins.
One of the initial weaknesses of the Nano S was that it was only possible to fit 2-3 apps on the device. However the NEW Firmware Version 1.6 released on 13 November 2019, users can now install 5-11 apps (depending on the type of app installed). This will certainly answer the prayers of a lot of average cryptocurrency holders who generally hold around 5-10 different coins.
If you still need more apps, one way around this limitation is to uninstall apps that are not being used and reinstall them in the future. Uninstalling apps will not delete coins – all account information will be retained. The newly released Ledger Nano X fixes this problem by increasing the internal memory to 2 MB.
Ledger’s firmware update directly addressed a significant weakness in the Nano S. Whilst it still can’t beat the Nano X in terms of multi currency support, the update will certainly be good enough for your typical cryptocurrency trader. For this reason, we give our thumbs up and bumped the score from 4/5 to 4.5/5 for multi currency support.
4.5/5 Multi Currency Support
Ledger Nano S has two hardware buttons – located on the top of the device. These two buttons allows us to access menus (hold both buttons), make selections (press both buttons), and even input recovery phrases (use buttons to scroll). We found that entering PINs and recovery phrases to be tedious with only 2 buttons – perhaps a touchscreen or additional buttons could of helped.
With the new update 1.6, the Ledger Nano S has an improved display UI where the full cryptocurrency address is shown without scrolling. This allows for easier verification of the target destination. The Nano S uses a USB micro-B interface for charging and connecting to the PC.
3.5/5 for Hardware Design
4/5 of Ease of Use
Why use a Hardware Wallet
With traditional currencies, you, the user, are the most important person. If you have ever lost your bank card, you can always go to the bank with some sort of identification and request for access back to your account.
Cryptocurrencies, however, don’t care about the physical person but rather the private key associated with the wallet. The private key is used to verify the account and transactions. Anyone who has access to this key can send funds and that is why you must keep it safe. Another thing is that cryptocurrency transactions cannot be reversed.
Hardware wallets can protect you against these things. They add an extra layer of security by storing the private key on the device itself. The only way to hack it would be to have physical access to the hardware wallet or with the backup phrase.
Ledger Nano S worth it in 2019?
Ledger Nano X
CC EAL 5+
Ledger Nano S
CC EAL 5+
The Ledger Nano S is the most affordable hardware wallet at only $59. Even though it’s the least expensive device, it has top of the line security with a CC EAL5+ secure element (military grade security). This device is great for any cryptocurrency HODLer who doesn’t to hold many different assets.
With the latest firmware update Ledger is showing users that the device is still relevant even with the newer Nano X. The enhanced security and most importantly, added apps means that Ledger still expects customers to seriously consider the Nano S a device worth getting even in 2019.
Coming into 2019, the Ledger Nano S has its biggest change yet – a price drop to $59 USD. This 40% price discount keeps the Nano S much more accessible and competitive in the hardware wallet space. Ledger is further upping its security measures so it stands further above the competition. It is perfect for beginners coming into the cryptocurrency space, and a solid device even for your typical crypto trader with 5-11 cryptocurrencies.
The latest firmware 1.6 update really brings the device up to date with 2019, and a serious contender to other wallets in the market. Our experience with the device has improved greatly, with the added apps a much welcomed improvement. And so we’ve bumped up our score for multi currency support from 4/5 to 4.5/5, bringing the final score up to 4/5 for the Nano S.
Security Rating: 5/5
Multi currency Support: 4.5/5
Hardware design: 3.5/5
Ease of Use: 4/5
Final Score: 4.25/5
Reviewed on 16th May 2019 by Michael Gu
Updated on 25th November 2019 by Michael Gu on the CSPN update and to review the features and user experience on firmware version 1.6.
Learn how to properly setup your Ledger Nano S with our guide.
Product Specifications (Technical Specifications)
Ledger Nano S Product Specifications:
|Processors||ST31H320 (secure) + STM32F042.|
|Compatibility||64-bits desktop computer (Windows 8+, macOS 10.8+, Linux) excluding ARM Processors. Also compatible with smartphones (iOS 9+ or Android 7+) via OTG cable.|
|Security Certification||CC EAL5+|
|Size|| Size: 56.95mm x 17.4mm x 9.1mm|
|Supported Assets||1100+ Supported assets|