Lots of Bitcoin wallets are now available, unlike in the early days of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. But as secure and useful as desktop and online wallets are, there is still room for innovation in terms of mobile Bitcoin wallet applications.
When people hear the phrase “Bitcoin wallet” they often think of the well-known cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase. Those who are immersed in the cryptocurrency world know that it has evolved into a platform that lets customers hold Bitcoins. While Coinbase is an affordable place to obtain Bitcoins, it’s definitely not a wallet.
Mobile wallets have the distinct advantage of convenience, allowing you to transfer cryptocurrency on the go. They are the bridge between fiat money and cryptocurrency.
You can’t carry around your computer and pay at the cash register, but you certainly can with a smartphone. The technology is already here, and some businesses already accept this method of payment, though it is nowhere near widespread.
Let’s take a look at some of the best Bitcoin wallets in the industry today available for Android in the Google Play store.
Different Types of Bitcoin Wallet
There are three main types of wallet, and mobile wallets do not fall purely into any of these three categories. They generally have more features in common with online wallets than the other two types. The three types of bitcoin wallet are:
With online wallets your funds are always on a network and are thus more vulnerable to being hacked. Desktop clients are one level removed from the internet, but since your computer is connected to the internet it is possible for hackers to gain access to your computer and then gain access to your cryptocurrency wallet. This is far more secure than keeping your funds online but your funds are still vulnerable.
Finally, there are hardware wallets. These wallets are never connected to the internet and the private keys are never exposed to the internet, even when sending transactions. For those new to the cryptocurrency world, private keys are secret numbers that allow Bitcoins to be spent. In other words, they are practically invincible, unless somebody forces you to divulge your pin and device.
Mobile wallets fall into the first category of online wallets, but they are still generally more secure than typical online sites which store your bitcoins. Some mobile wallets even offer hardware level encryption and have features closer to an actual hardware wallet.
The downside of mobile wallets is security. Mobile wallets need to be connected to a network to send transactions, which is always less secure. Mobile wallets could be lost if your device is stolen, and they could easily be infected with malware that finds its way onto your smart phone.
However, there are a number of workarounds and developers have many safeguards in place. Below is a review of the top 3 Android Bitcoin wallets.
MyCelium, a semi-open-source Bitcoin wallet, takes the number one spot for the best Android wallet. MyCelium was established in 2008 by a group of hardware engineers, before cryptocurrency was even invented. This is how established MyCelium is.
The developers are well known and have been in the market for a long time. This is a huge bonus given how new the world of cryptocurrency is, and long-term platforms and experienced developers are difficult to come across.
The number one consideration in terms of any Bitcoin wallet is its level of security. MyCelium has a pin number which is required to send or receive funds, which is a basic layer of protection in case your device falls into the wrong hands.
Like all wallets, you have a 12-word seed which can be used to recover your wallet in the event that your device gets stolen or lost. This seed needs to be stored securely.
It is the most important thing that you must do when securing any type of wallet. If you do not own the keys, you do not own the funds.
MyCelium is as safe as a mobile wallet can be. However, it does not use hardware-level encryption like hardware devices such as the Trezor and Ledger Nano or other mobile wallets such as Breadwallet.
This means that if hackers did get their hands on your phone, they could potentially crack your device, though you would most likely be able to recover your funds before this happened. What is more likely to happen is that your phone could be riddled with Bitcoin-stealing malware and one day your funds would disappear.
The MyCelium interface is what makes it stand out. It is a pleasure to use and quite straightforward. Truth be told, this is the main reason why MyCelium is loved by the cryptocurrency community. It offers a moderate level of security while also being easy to use with a smooth and intuitive interface.
Sending and receiving Bitcoin on MyCelium is effortless, as is setting up a wallet initially. The wallet is so accessible and you can send or receive in seconds.
Buys and sells can be completed with a few touches of the screen. One of the downsides of MyCelium, like with most Bitcoin wallets and cryptocurrency exchanges, is that the customer support leaves much to be desired.
MyCelium also has a number of extra features which make it stand out from other Android wallets. It has a proprietary P2P platform built in which lets you find Bitcoin buyers and sellers nearby. This system encrypts all your communications with the seller or buyer.
Users can buy or sell using Venmo, an email-based payment system. The team also offers a number of other Bitcoin services including MyCelium Gear, MyCelium Swish, MyCelium Card and MyCelium Entropy. All these services help make Bitcoin payments easier and more secure.
MyCelium is compatible with the Trezor and Ledger Nano so you can get the best of both worlds. You can keep the funds that you need on MyCelium for everyday use and keep the rest of your funds on a hardware device such as the Trezor or Ledger Nano.
MyCelium offers a decent level of security for a mobile wallet, but it is nowhere near as secure as keeping your funds on a hardware device.
The reason Breadwallet makes the list is because it is hands down the most secure mobile wallet available. Despite being a mobile wallet, Breadwallet offers a lot of the benefits of a hardware wallet. Your phone could be full of Bitcoin malware and your funds would be still be 100% safe.
The private keys are never exposed to the internet. It is not quite accurate to say that Breadwallet is as safe as a hardware wallet, but it is nearly as safe, which is quite an achievement. It is as safe as you will ever get in terms of a mobile wallet and it removes most of the security issues of mobile wallets.
Not only is Breadwallet secure, it is very user friendly. Anybody can use this simple Bitcoin wallet. It is easy to get used to, with simple send and receive buttons featured on the display.
While MyCelium may be poor on iOS, Breadwallet works perfectly well on both iOS and Android.
It is beginner friendly compared to MyCelium, and the setup process is explained in detail. It only has two screens, which makes it difficult to get lost in the application.
Breadwallet lacks the interface and third-party integration of MyCelium, which is why it comes second and not first on this list. There is no disputing the fact the Breadwallet is basic.
Additionally, Breadwallet does not allow users to manually adjust the mining fee, which advanced users will find annoying. However, it does prevent beginners from making the common mistake of sending a low mining fee. It is a close call, given that Breadwallet is far safer and easier to use than MyCelium.
Breadwallet does lack some of the more advanced features of MyCelium and their target audience is newcomers to the cryptocurrency market who want Bitcoin on their phones. One of the downsides is that the recovery seed is not compatible with other wallets.
Most wallets allow you to import your recovery keys generated from another wallet. But Breadwallet decided this was a security risk and you will only be able to recover your Breadwallet if the keys are lost.
Out of all the mobile wallet operators you can rest assured knowing that Breadwallet are more focused on security than any other wallet development team.
Samourai, an open source wallet, is something of a dark horse as far as mobile Bitcoin wallets are concerned. Many are of the opinion that this is actually the best wallet, it’s just not as well-known as some of the others since it’s new to the market. It has the right blend of security, ease of use, technical features and user interface.
The Samourai Bitcoin wallet is encrypted with AES 256, and security and privacy are the main focus of the development team. The wallet keys are stored locally and are never exposed to the internet.
Hackers will need access to your device to get the keys, much like a desktop client. The wallet enforces a BIP 39 passphrase.
Users can set up a 5-8 digit Pin to access the wallet and every Pin screen is randomized to combat screen recording spyware.
The main weakness of mobile wallets is that the device itself could be compromised with malware, but Samourai is more or less immune. Samourai Wallet ensures there is no address reuse, and it randomizes the number of change outputs for every individual transaction.
Samourai has some extra features which make it stand out from the competition. It is one of the few wallets that are Segregated Witness (SegWit) compatible.
SegWit was an upgrade to Bitcoin that makes transactions cheaper and quicker, but when the upgrade was made many wallets were slow to add support due to the difficulty of doing so.
The wallet also enables users to set their own custom mining fee as opposed to having it preset like in Breadwallet. It offers support for Tor and VPN connections.
While MyCelium might have more integration and Breadwallet is a little more secure, Samourai is definitely the most private. Security and privacy mean two different things in the world of cryptocurrency.
Samourai offers a neat stealth feature. When in stealth mode the icon disappears from the screen. To activate the wallet the correct pin must be entered like a telephone number.
This is a clever feature that prevents hackers from knowing your have the application installed, though they could still work it out if they were serious hackers looking for Bitcoin mobile wallets on your phone.
Samourai was released very recently and is still in the Alpha stage, which is why few have heard of it. Those who have tried it usually say it works flawlessly, and it is definitely a wallet to look out for.
It was one of the first mobile wallets to be SegWit compatible, which means lower transaction costs for users. An iOS version of Samourai wallet is also in the works.
The Samourai developers are dedicated to decentralization, privacy, security and fungibility judging from their public statements. The wallet does not allow multi signature (for joint accounts) but you can have multiple accounts on the same application. Multiple accounts can help keep business and personal accounts separate.
It also supports Child Pays for Parent and Replace by Fee. These are two features that advanced users will appreciate, and Child Pays for Parent is useful for any unconfirmed transactions that are stuck in the blockchain. This can happen often when the mining fee is set too low.
Samurai offers a way to conceal your transactions. Optionally, you may enable Samourai’s unique Ricochet Send. While this feature costs an extra $2.50 per transaction it’s a great way to disguise the origin of your payment.
As the name implies, your spending transaction is bounced through a series of four extra addresses on the way to its final destination. There is a whole other cryptocurrency, DASH, which derives its value from laundering the cryptocurrency in this way, so it is untraceable.
Additionally, Samourai also have a remote command feature. You can send a remote command via SMS which instructs the Samourai to either self destruct or to reply with the wallets backup phrase.
If someone steals your phone and somehow finds the wallet even in stealth mode, you can tell your wallet to die, which is quite a neat feature.
Copay is an open source wallet, equipped with the security features any smart Bitcoin user would deem essential. With Copay, users can secure their funds with multi-signature security settings in addition to managing your funds with friends and coworkers with ease.
In addition to Copay’s secure system, it allows you to share your wallet with ease and manage multiple wallets at once. Better yet, Copay is the first Bitcoin wallet to bring testnet support to iOS and Windows Phone.
Android Wallet Summary
To conclude, MyCelium is the most popular wallet, with the best interface and the best third-party integration. If you connect to it with a hardware device such as the Trezor your funds are safe. However, MyCelium can be a little tricky to use.
Breadwallet is the safest mobile wallet available. It is also the easiest to use. If you want a mobile wallet that is secure and simple, then Breadwallet is ideal. It’s perfect for beginners.
Samourai Wallet is the newest, most innovative and, quite frankly, the coolest. There are no other wallets that you can remote command to self destruct, and it comes packed with extra privacy and security components. Like a Swiss army knife it combines a lot of features into a well-designed package.
Samourai Wallet is quite easy to use but has lots of advanced functions, meaning it is suitable for both beginners and expert alike. It is the most private wallet and can be the most secure depending on how well you use the extra functions.
The only issues are that it is not yet compatible with a hardware wallet such as Trezor or Ledger Nano, and it does not support multi-signature accounts. Now, the next time you’re browsing Google Play for the best Bitcoin wallets, you’ll know exactly where to look.