Ledger and Trezor are the two most-storied brands in the hardware wallet space. And the head-to-head battle between these two companies is perhaps best illustrated with the the most popular hardware devices sold by each manufacturer, which are the Ledger Nano S and the Trezor One. While both Ledger and Trezor have gone on to release new devices, the Nano S and the One were the first generation of widely-popular hardware wallets that came to prominence during the 2017 crypto market bubble.
By: Kyle Torpey | Jun 9, 2020 | Modified Jun 30, 2020
Ledger has sold more than one million of their Nano S devices. This was the first device released by Ledger that had its own screen, which was a massive improvement from a security perspective. To learn more, check out our comprehensive Ledger Nano S review.
The Trezor One was the gold standard of hardware wallets at one point, and it’s still very much a relevant product even though it was originally launched all the way back in 2014 as the first Bitcoin hardware wallet in the world. To learn more about the hardware wallet, read our complete review of the Trezor One.
|Information||Ledger Nano S||Trezor One|
|Headquarters||Paris, France||Prague, Czech Republic|
|Security features||Certified secure element, ANSSI certification, passphrases, PIN codes||Open-source firmware, passphrases, PIN codes|
|Available cryptocurrencies||Bitcoin, Ethereum (1,100+)||Bitcoin, Ethereum (1,000+)|
From the perspective of a beginner, the Ledger Nano S and the Trezor One will appear to be quite similar. Both devices offer a screen and two buttons as the main ways of interacting with the devices. In reality, gauging the relative friendliness for beginners with these two devices will depend on the software that is used in combination with the hardware wallets.
Both devices are supported by a variety of cryptocurrency wallets, but the companies behind each device also produce their own cryptocurrency wallet software, known as Ledger Live and Trezor wallet. It’s difficult to choose a winner when it comes to the general level of simplicity offered to beginners with each of these software options. They both contain features desirable to Bitcoin beginners, such as the ability to purchase Bitcoin and other crypto assets from directly within the wallet software. However, the fact that users cannot currently sell their crypto assets from within Trezor Wallet may give the Ledger Nano S a slight edge in this department.
You can’t really go wrong with choose either the Ledger Nano S or the Trezor One when it comes to keeping your cryptocurrency holdings safe and secure. However, there is a rather big difference between how these two devices provide security to their users: the use of a Secure Element. A secure element is a proprietary standalone chip that arguably provides a higher level of security.
While secure elements have become an extremely popular way to deal with sensitive data over the past few years, they are also closed source. For this reason, the team behind the Trezor One decided not to go with a secure element in their hardware device. Their argument is that malicious code could be implemented in the Secure Element via a third party, namely a government agency.
The Ledger Nano S, however, does use a Secure Element. Their argument comes down to the additional security benefits against physical attacks on the actual hardware that go along with the use of a Secure Element. At the end of the day, the user will need to decide which potential vulnerability they’re more comfortable with having on their hardware wallet.
While the Ledger Nano S and Trezor One look quite different from an aesthetic point of view, the reality is both of these devices work in a rather similar fashion when it comes to functionality. In both devices, the main way a user will interact with the hardware is through the use of a screen and two buttons. The devices also lack bluetooth support, so the hardware wallets need to be plugged into a computer or smartphone via an included USB cable.
Other than that, the Ledger Nano S does have a bit of a stronger feel to it, as the Trezor One’s plastic casing feels rather weak. The other obvious difference from a hardware perspective is the previously mentioned inclusion of a Secure Element in the Ledger Nano S.
Although these are two different hardware devices that are intended to be used with two different software wallets, the installation and setup processes for the Ledger Nano S and the Trezor One are quite similar.
Both hardware wallets involve the same basic, 4-step setup process: plug the device into your computer, create a new wallet, create a PIN code, and write down the words associated with your recovery phrase. The interfaces will look different and the order might be switched up a little bit, but the reality is you’re basically going through the same procedure when setting up each device.
Both of these devices support a massive number of different crypto assets; however, the Ledger Nano S supports roughly 100 more cryptocurrencies than the Trezor One. Although the Ledger device does support more crypto assets. At the end of the day, most users are interested in simply keeping their Bitcoin and other major crypto assets secure more than anything else, so most consumers won’t need to worry about this aspect of the two devices.
That said, if you know that you are interested in alt coin offerings, you may want to double check that the Trezor One or Ledger Nano S supports your desired crypto asset before making your purchase.
Trezor and Ledger are, next to Coldcard, the two best-known brands in the Bitcoin hardware wallet industry. Therefore, you’re going to find that you’ll be able to use your Trezor One or Ledger Nano S with basically any cryptocurrency wallet that has support for hardware devices.
In addition to using your Trezor or Ledger device on your home computer or laptop, you can also plug these devices into your Apple or Android smartphone.
Both of these devices have been around for quite a while now, so there isn’t much to look at here in terms of stand out features. Yes, there are some differences when it comes to the look of the hardware and how a high level of security is achieved, but the reality is both the Ledger Nano S and the Trezor One are means to the same ends, which is keeping your private keys in an offline computing environment.
You could say the most noteworthy attribute of the Trezor One when stacked up against the Ledger Nano S is that the Trezor One is the oldest hardware wallet on the market, launching all the way back in 2014.
There aren’t many huge differences to look at when it comes to a comparison between the Ledger Nano S and the Trezor One. The Trezor One is currently sold for $5 less than the Ledger Nano S, so that’s one consideration for cost-minded users of hardware wallets. However, $5 shouldn’t really make a difference when it comes to protecting your cryptocurrency private keys against theft or user error.
You really can’t go wrong with either of these options. Unless you’re a technical expert interested in the nuanced debate over whether a Secure Element should be used or not, the most important thing for users to think about may be support for their favorite crypto assets. If the device works with your preferred cryptocurrency and wallet software, then go ahead and make the purchase. Of course, if price isn’t an issue, the newer releases from Ledger and Trezor are also worth your consideration.