The Ledger Nano S is one of the first and most popular hardware wallets designed by French blockchain security company, Ledger. Founded in 2014, the same year as the iconic Mt. Gox exchange hack, Ledger has always had a strong focus on fund security and has since become one of the leading hardware wallet producers in the world.
The Ledger Nano S, released in 2016, has become both the bestselling hardware wallet on the market and Ledger’s number one product by a large margin. To date, Ledger has sold 1.5 million hardware wallet devices in total, with the Ledger Nano S accounting for over 1.4 million units alone.
Eclipsing it’s larger, higher-priced counterparts the Ledger Blue and Ledger Nano X in sales, the Ledger Nano S is a testament to the importance of simplicity and usability. Similarly, the Ledger Nano S supports a massive range of crypto assets and has subsequently become the hardware wallet of choice for a wide cross-section of cryptocurrency users.
But what exactly has made the Ledger Nano S the most popular hardware wallet of all time, and with the new Ledger Nano X now available, can the Nano S hold on to its title?
Blokt examines the features and specifications of this iconic hardware wallet in this complete Ledger Nano S review.
The Ledger Nano S is an incredibly compact device, around the same size as a USB stick, and weighs very little. A metal slide-over cover integrated into the Ledger Nano S offers the device’s small screen protection, and also covers the micro-USB port.
It really is small and lightweight. If someone who didn’t know what a hardware wallet was they would be none the wiser. They would simply think it was another run of the mill USB. Unlike the Trezor, which actually looks like something other than a USB.
An inscription on the metal reads ‘vires in numeris’, Latin for ‘strength in numbers’, a nod to the cryptographic security contained within the device. Ledger has recently started offering the option to customize the color of the Ledger Nano S.
Whilst it’s certainly a well-designed device, it’s also inconspicuous enough to pass as a standard USB device, which makes it a great choice for those who don’t want to advertise the fact that they own crypto.
- Dimensions: 56.9 mm x 17.4 x 9.1 mm
- Weight: 16 g
- Connection: USB Type Micro-C
- CPU/Chip type: ST31H320 (secure) + STM32F042
- Display: 3.5 inch LCD
- Currency Support: > 1,000 assets
- Supported OS: 64-bit Windows, 64-bit Mac OS, and 64-bit Linux.
- Price: ~ $60
Ledger Nano S Unboxing
The Ledger Nano S comes in simple packaging, along with some bare-essential accessories. In the box, users will find a card with setup instructions, another card to write down the 24-word recovery phrase, and a third card explaining the lack of tamper-evident stickers on the packaging.
Also inside, users will find a lanyard for the device, alongside a micro-USB cable. Other than this, the Ledger Nano S doesn’t come with any carry cases or docking stations provided with more premium devices such as the Trezor Model-T or the KeepKey wallet, however, the Ledger Nano S is so small it doesn’t really require multiple accessories.
Coin Support and Transactions
The Ledger Nano S supports the greatest number of coins of any hardware wallet, over 1,100 assets in total, including most major cryptocurrencies and all ERC-20 tokens.
Among the most popular supported assets on the Ledger Nano S are:
Setup and Transacting
For most major coins, sending and receiving is carried out via the Ledger Live platform. Ledger Live allows users to easily install new apps on their device for multiple crypto support, in addition to providing an overview of your total balance.
When users first launch Ledger Live, they simply need to make sure their Ledger Nano S is connected to their computer, then select ‘device setup’, after which Ledger Live will guide you through the steps needed to use your device.
Likewise, Ledger Nano S users can use Ledger Live to update their device’s firmware, which is recommended to keep the device secure.
ERC-20 tokens can be accessed via online wallets such at MyEtherWallet (MEW), however, user private keys never leave the device, so accessing funds this way is far safer than transacting entirely through a hot wallet.
Funds accessed on the Nano Ledger S through MEW, for example, can be sent and received in the same way as a normal MEW transaction.
Whilst unboxing the Ledger Nano S, there’s a card included which asks users if they noticed there were no anti-tampering stickers on the packaging. This, Ledger claim, is because cryptographic mechanisms check the integrity of the device each time it’s switched on. Ledger achieves this through the use of a tamper-proof and eavesdropping-proof ‘secure element’ chip, unique to Ledger devices, in addition to its proprietary OS, called the Blockchain Open Ledger Operating System, or ‘BOLOS’.
In short, apps for individual crypto’s run in complete isolation on Ledger Nano S devices, only accessing private keys to make transactions when the users give manual permission on the device interface.
Likewise, the Ledger Nano S makes sure you note down your 24-word seed phrase on the card provided during setup and check that you’ve noted it down correctly. There are more potential combinations of a 24-word seed phrase than there are atoms on Earth – so when kept private, this is a very safe method of wallet security.
But it has recently been found that the Trezor device is less secure than the Nano. If an attacker physically gets a hold of a Trezor they can crack it, because of a hardware error. This is not possible to do with the Ledger.
Pros & Cons
Ledger Nano S Summary
As hardware wallets go, the Ledger Nano S really has taken center stage since its release. However, with the Ledger Nano X now on sale, a similar but updated device from Ledger, will the Nano S be able to keep its top spot?
In the near future, it’s likely it will. The Ledger Nano S has become one of the most respected and trusted hardware wallets on the market, and likewise, at just $60, it’s also one of the most affordable devices.
It also has a history of strong security, with no known hacks taking place over the years. This in itself is enough to put the Nano at the top of leader board. After all, security is the main function of a hardware wallet and users have to be certain that their funds stored on the device are safe.
Additionally, the Ledger Nano S provides the same coin support as the new Ledger Nano X. Despite this, the Ledger Nano X will feature Bluetooth connectivity, greatly increasing the speed and ease of transactions, and this may be a feature some users will prefer.
However, for the casual user who doesn’t make frequent transactions, the Ledger Nano S is still one of the best choices of hardware wallet on the market. It’s highly likely that Ledger will continue firmware support for the Ledger Nano S for the foreseeable future, so there are few security concerns there too.
The Ledger Nano S is the most popular crypto hardware wallet ever, selling over 1.4 million units, and it’s easy to see why. It’s an inexpensive option for storing a huge number of crypto assets, with a sleek design and simplistic functionality, it’s hard to find another device which ticks all the same boxes.
Overall, the Ledger Nano S comes highly recommended as an affordable and efficient way to store a multitude of crypto assets.