In a time when hardware wallets were as difficult to use as driving a car, for the first time, a Hong Kong-based hardware company released what is considered by many to be the most user-friendly, stand-alone Hardware wallet.
While its working principle guarantees for private key isolation, some users share concerns about the brand’s age and teams being somewhat unknown. What we can say in all this is that, since its launch in 2018, Ellipal has had a great market reception and good user experience, for the most part.
Over the course of this review, we will be looking at general features of the wallet, how it works, how to use the wallet, and finally key security best practices to keep in mind when using the device.
General features of the Ellipal wallet
The Ellipal cold wallet is designed like a touch screen smartphone, possessing some mobile device features like a touch screen, a camera lens, used for QR code authentication, and a USB cable for recharging the device.
As of the time of writing, the Ellipal wallet supports over 34 cryptocurrencies including Ethereum and every ERC token. However, there are fewer standalone coins available on Ellipal when compared to other pioneering hardware wallets like Trezor and Ledger. Its also worth noting that new assets are constantly being added almost every month, with their monthly firmware update.
Ellipal works together with an app, which functions independently from the hardware device, as a hot wallet. Some of the features of this app are an hourly price update of the market and price charts. With Ellipal you can also have up to 10 hot wallet addresses and 5 multiple cold wallet addresses.
This wallet comes in a 118 X 66 X 9.7 mm frame; with an LCD screen of 3.97 Inches, a USB charging code, and a battery capacity of 1400mAh.
At the time of writing, there is just one model of this wallet which is the Ellipal Titan and a single Ellipal titan device is sold for $139, with several other deliverables coming with the device, at different price ranges.
How the Ellipal hardware wallet works
Ellipal signs off transactions from the device using a QR code scanner and relays it, across the network after signing, from the cold wallet app. This way, it is impossible for the wallet’s private key to leave the hardware, which makes a Phishing hack or any other form of spy attack practically impossible during a transaction.
Unlike other hardware wallets, you do not need vulnerable connections like USB or Bluetooth connection while using the wallet.
Ellipal allows for the operation of multi-signature wallets. In this situation, another user(s) can sign a multisig transaction from their device.
Setting up an Ellipal wallet
With the Ellipal device, you can create a new account or import an existing account. The steps to do this are spelled out below:
- Click on “My Accounts”
- Click on “Add Account” just below the test icon.
- Click on “Create Account”
- Input your “Account name” and enter your preferred password. Make sure your password is one you can remember and can’t be easily guessed.
- Hit the “Create Account” icon.
After this, your 12-word mnemonic seed phrase will appear on your screen. The mnemonic seed phrase is a readable format of your private key. So make sure you write these words in their generated order. Also, every new Ellipal device comes boxed with a sheet where you can write down the phrase. Also, there is also the option of metallic tile letters for writing down your mnemonic phrase in a compact and well-protected case
After this, you are required to verify the phrases in their order by tapping the words accordingly. After verifying the words written down, click on “Back Up Now.”
Linking your Ellipal hardware with the Ellipal App
Before and after generating an Ellipal wallet, there is the option of linking a hardware device to the Ellipal hot wallet.
To do this, open your Ellipal mobile app and click on “Connect to cold wallet.” Also, click on the top right QR code icon on the wallet’s screen.
After this your Ellipal device will generate a set of ten QR codes consecutively, to be confirmed one after another, via your mobile wallet QR scanner in the mobile wallet.
Note that, with each scan, there is a next (>) icon for you to move on to the next code until all ten are completely scanned.
If done correctly, you should have successfully linked your mobile device to your hardware wallet. Also, the Ellipal mobile app operates similarly to the hardware wallet, with regards to account creation.
Sending funds using Ellipal
Sending funds with Ellipal is somewhat unusual when compared with wallets like Trezor and Ledger wallet. With Ellipal, you first need to create the transaction on the Ellipal app. To do this:
- Click on the desired cryptocurrency from the app,
- Enter the receiving wallet address
- Set the fees based on your desired delivery speed. The fee options are from a choice of slow to fast with fast meaning higher fees for PoW networks.
- After this, an unsigned transaction output is generated with a QR code format. Think of this as a bank cheque without a signature.
- To authenticate this “unsigned check”, an Ellipal hardware wallet will need to sign the transaction using its camera. To do this enter the same asset you intend to send on the hardware wallet’s interface.
- You will be required to enter the Ellipal wallet password.
- Automatically you are taken to the scanner to sign the transaction. Make sure to scan the code.
- After that, the hardware wallet will generate a signed transaction output on the hardware wallet. Think of this as a completely signed and properly filled cheque yet to be sent to a bank for withdrawal (where the bank is the blockchain network in this case.)
- To validate the transaction, you will be required to scan the signed transaction output, with the Ellipal wallet that initially created the unsigned transaction.
- You should receive a notification showing the transaction as “Done.”
Recovering a lost Ellipal wallet
In the event your hardware wallet gets missing, you can recover your funds using your 12 words mnemonic seed phrase. This recovery can be done on any wallet that is compatible with a 12-word mnemonic seed phrase. However, for this review, we are assuming you want to recover your funds/wallet on a new Ellipal device.
Turn on your Ellipal device, and click on “Recover device via mnemonics”
- Input your mnemonic phrases in the initially generated order.
- Set up a new password and username.
- Input your Account name and Password and reconfirm your password
- Click on “Recover account” and “ok”
If the mnemonic phrase is correct, the funds will be spendable from this new device.
Security best practices with Ellipal wallet
Ellipal has the most detached interaction during a transaction compared to other hardware devices. This makes a malware phishing attack practically impossible since the only connection the hardware has with another device is through its camera while scanning. However, some best practices should be observed while using the wallet. These are:
- Make sure no cameras are taking surveillance while generating your mnemonic key, or even while using the hardware wallet to sign transactions.
- Make sure to keep the mnemonic key phrase in a safe place.
- Always use a robust password while creating an account.
In April 2020, the Ellipal team made a post of scammers using the wallet’s name to defraud users. Although the nature and details of the scams were not specified. This is why you only want to order an Ellipal device from the official Ellipal website.
Unlike other pioneering hardware wallets, like Trezor and Ledger wallet, the Ellipal team took a huge leap in user experience design. This is one of the most user-friendly wallets out there. For $139, we consider the price fair, considering its sophistication and user experience.
One concern we had while reviewing this wallet is several complaints of their unresponsive support.