The Binance Labs-backed SafePal S1 is easy to use and has a great screen but the keyboard lets it down.
- Decrypt rating: 3/5 stars
- Price: $39
- Supported cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance Coin and ERC-20 tokens
- Ease of use: Very straightforward to set up and use
- Security: A good level of security, with appropriate warnings
- Aesthetic: Stylish wallet with a clear screen but a dodgy keyboard
We continue our quest for the ultimate user-friendly and secure crypto hardware wallet.
Next up: the SafePal S1, which was launched in January 2019. The S1 is the first product by Shenzen-based SafePal, a company backed by Binance Labs, the venture arm of crypto exchange Binance.
The wallet itself looks like an old-school MP3 player. It has a gloss black front—which attracts smudges like flies—and features a 1.3 inch screen, six physical buttons and a camera. It charges via a USB cable and comes with a matching app.
When I turn the device on, I’m impressed by the quality of the screen. It is clear, easy to read and can fit around 30 words at any one time. I select the right language by pressing the central “OK” button and click past a quick primer on how to use the device. Then, it’s time to set up a new wallet and create a mnemonic phrase .
At this point, there is an option to read more about mnemonic phrases, why they are important and warnings associated with using them. This makes good use of the large screen and would not be possible on most other hardware wallets, such as the Ledger Nano S. I click past this, and up comes my mnemonic phrase, five words at a time, which I write down.
Then I have to verify the phrase. This involves choosing the right word out of five options, and doing this for every word in the 12, 18, or 24 word phrase (depending on what you go for). It’s a relatively painless process.
Next up, I need to set a PIN for the device. This is where the SafePal S1 lets itself down. At least on my device, the up arrow rarely works. This leads to a string of incorrectly pressed numbers. Every time I go to delete the number (the delete button is at the bottom of the screen) and try to move back upwards to the one I want, it often selects another wrong number—sending me back down to the delete button.
Eventually, I get it to confirm the same string of six numbers. Then, I get to name the wallet and call it the “Decrypt Vault.” Now, I must download the SafePal app.
In terms of the app, it’s very minimalist and straightforward if you like dark mode. My only issue is that it shows too much information for each past transaction. While helpful for those of us who are technically minded, it should be hidden behind a drop down button.
To pair the app with the device, I use the S1’s built-in camera to capture the QR code on the app. Then, I return the favor and use my phone to take a photo of the QR code on the device. It actually shows eight QR codes one after another, and my phone captures them all before confirming. This was easy to do and the device is paired.
It’s worth noting at this point that I didn’t enter my mnemonic phrase on anything other than the device itself—not my computer nor on the app, as the Cool Wallet S does. This ensures it is kept safe on the hardware wallet, which is not connected to my phone or the Internet in any way—making it much harder to hack remotely.
With the SafePal S1 set up, I use the device to create a QR code showing my Ethereum address. Then I send some ether over. It shows up pretty quickly in the SafePal app but there’s no ability to see the wallet balance in the device since it’s not connected to the Internet.
Sending cryptocurrency out of the wallet is fairly easy too, although there’s no autofill for putting in the maximum amount. I enter the address and manually set the amount, but to send it, I have to use the device to scan my phone and then vice versa. It’s not a huge inconvenience, until I have to type my PIN code again. Yuck. But it works.