What is Ethereum?
Ethereum is the second biggest cryptocurrency by market cap and has been for almost six years. It is second only to Bitcoin, but it fulfils a completely different role in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Ethereum is a decentralized computing platform that serves as the backbone for many of the applications that have rapidly risen in popularity, such as the decentralized finance (DeFi) boom, and, more recently, the NFT movement. Knowing how to store your ETH and your Ethereum NFTs has never been more important, so here’s our rundown on the top Ethereum wallets on the market today.
What is an Ethereum Wallet?
Ethereum wallets come in two forms – hardware and software. Hardware Ethereum wallets are physical ones that hold your Ethereum offline, while software ones are digital and hold your coins online. In many ways an Ethereum wallet is the crypto equivalent of a traditional internet banking app. With an Ethereum wallet you can check your account balance, send and receive ETH and in many cases Ethereum-based NFTs, and carry out a variety of other functions.
Coinbase is one of the most recognized names in the cryptocurrency world. The exchange also has a wallet service that supports over 4,000 tokens and a variety of decentralized apps. This is very beneficial if you want to convert your ETH into other currencies. The Coinbase Wallet is free to use but attracts transaction fees that range from 1.49% up to 3.99%.
According to Coinbase, the Coinbase Wallet is a “self-custody crypto wallet, putting you in control of your crypto, keys, and data.” In terms of Ethereum, it allows you to store your ETH and NFTs conveniently and safely.
The Coinbase Wallet has the added benefit of allowing users to leverage DeFi liquidity pools to supply or borrow crypto, and join a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) to shape the future of a Web 3.0 project – such versatility is rarely found among other Ethereum wallets.
The key advantages of using the Coinbase Wallet are:
- It is compatible with hardware wallets, which have a higher level of safety than digital wallets
- Coinbase Wallet supports linking up to crypto-friendly bank accounts
- Coinbase secures your private keys using Secure Enclave technology
- The Coinbase Wallet uses two-factor authentication to secure access to your account
- Coinbase supports a variety of popular coins, allowing you to easily swap your ETH
There are a couple of things you should consider before opening a Coinbase Wallet however:
- Coinbase Wallet is ‘hosted’, which means it is connect to the internet at all times
- Some see the Coinbase Wallet as restrictive, because it doesn’t support smaller and less-popular coins which may be trending
- Cryptocurrency purists prefer wallets that are not created by big corporations
Coinbase Wallet is one of the best Ethereum wallets because it is safe, easy to use, functional, and comes backed by a reputable name in the crypto space. However those seeing long term storage may want to look elsewhere.
With a MetaMask Wallet you can manage, send, and receive Ethereum and even Ethereum NFTs. You can also manage and transact a variety of other cryptocurrencies by linking your MetaMask wallet to blockchains such as BSC Testnet BSC, AVAX, Polygon, Harmony, Fantom, Expanse, and EOS.
Features and benefits of MetaMask include:
- MetaMask is an open-source platform, so anyone anywhere can access the MetaMask code online for free. The community constantly reviews and updates the software to make it better.
- Ubiquitous wallet, with almost all decentralized applications
- MetaMask has a very easy to understand interface, which is beneficial for new users.
- Unlike other Wallets where your keys are stored on the platform developer’s servers, your private and public keys will be stored on your own browser, which gives you more control
- Ethereum offers a choice of routes when swapping coins, allowing users to find cheaper costs
There are some things to bear in mind before you open a MetaMask wallet:
- Storing your data on a third-party browser means that Google and Mozilla have access to some of your data, especially data on how and when you use the app
- While MetaMask is secure, the fact that it is online still presents risks for hacking
- Retaining your own backup codes can be dangerous if not handled properly
MetaMask’s open-source architecture is more akin to what true decentralization should be. So for Ethereum users who want a wallet that matches its ethos of being completely free from the control of any one individual or corporation, MetaMask will make a good choice.
Trust Wallet is a decentralized crypto wallet that was acquired by Binance in 2018. It is an open-source software wallet available for Apple and Android devices that supports a variety of cryptocurrencies and also supports connecting to other Ethereum-based DeFi apps.
Trust Wallet’s simple user interface makes the platform easy to understand and use. This will be of great benefit to users who are just getting into crypto and are still learning how to store Ethereum safely, while more advanced users can take advantage of the more complex DApps.
For those interested in staking crypto, Trust Wallet allows staking for a variety of platforms, including Tron (TRX) and Tezos (XTZ), with Ethereum (ETH) staking possible when it launches. Other strong suits of Trust Wallet are:
- Simple and straightforward user interface
- Security preserved through various means, including regular audits by security company Stateful
- Pin code or fingerprint scanning login requirement to add an extra layer of security
- User-initiated backup of 12-word recovery phrase
- Non-custodial wallet, with keys secured on device on which Trust Wallet is installed
- No KYC required
While Trust Wallet is a great option, it is not without its flaws:
- No two-factor authentication for access or transactions
- Risk of loss of device hosting the wallet
- Software wallets are not as secure as dedicated hardware wallets
Trust Wallet stands out as a top wallet for Ethereum by being totally committed to simplicity without sacrificing functionality. Trust Wallet is a great choice for a wide range of users, although carrying your crypto wallet around with you might not be a tempting thought for everyone.
Ledger Nano S
Hardware wallets like the Ledger Nano S are deemed superior to software wallets because they store users’ private keys offline, only connecting them to the internet to complete transactions. Functionality has improved in recent years, making them much quicker to use than previously.
The Ledger Nano S has proved to be one of the most popular hardware wallets yet, with its LED display serving up information about the holder’s accounts and is used for payment validation. Ethereum storage is naturally offered, with sending ETH through the Ledger Live software very easy. Strong features of the Ledger Nano S wallet include:
- Private keys are stored on the Ledger Nano S device permanently and are rendered inaccessible through the internet, which makes it impossible for hackers to steal.
- Allows safest possible storage of crypto holdings
- Supports more than 1,000 coins including less popular coins and tokens
- Interacts well with both centralized and DeFi platforms
The Ledger Nano S may be popular, but it has its limitations:
- The Ledger Nano S can only store up to six applications (e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano) which can limit use of the device
- Requires a USB cable to send or exchange coins, adding a further step to the process
- Small display
It is also worth noting that Ledger suffered a series of data breaches in 2020 which saw millions of customer email addresses leaked as well as the names, home addresses and phone numbers of 292,000 customers. This does not reflect on how the Ledger Nano S performs as an Ethereum wallet, but it is important to know.
Trezor Model T
Another hardware wallet for Ethereum, this time from the other big player in the space. The Trezor Model T is a wallet that can store a large number of cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum and all ERC-20 based currencies, with all the safety features hardware wallets possess.
The Trezor Model T was launched in 2018 as an improvement on the Trezor One and is an open-source system that is renowned for being very secure and flexible.
The Model T supports more cryptocurrencies than the Trezor One, and features other benefits such as an SD card slot for extra storage and an RGB color touchscreen. Advantages of the Trezor Model T are as follows:
- Great security features including a randomly generated recovery seed, a PIN, and a passphrase feature.
- Hardware wallets offer superior safety
- Open-source architecture allows users with the knowhow to customize their wallet to suit their needs as well as third-party app integration.
- Ability to store Ethereum-based NFTs and exchange coins
- Plugins for many centralized and DeFi platforms
There are some considerations you should factor in before you go getting a Trezor Model T:
- The Trezor Model T is one of the pricier mid-range hardware wallets around
- Touchscreen can be difficult to use given its small size and to date has no true functionality
- Requires cable connection
The Trezor Model T builds on what its predecessor did well, and also what the Ledger Nano S does well, and does it better, with added features and great customizability. For those who want to splash the cash on a reputable hardware Ethereum wallet, this is one of the best.
Each of our top Ethereum wallets has its own advantages and disadvantages, and they have been designed to suit the needs of different audiences. This makes it hard for us to pick a definitive best wallet for Ethereum users.
However, it is clear that for those who are new to cryptocurrency and want a simple user interface that allows them to experiment with the Ethereum ecosystem, the Trust Wallet is probably the best software option right now. For the absolute first timer however, you can’t go wrong with the Coinbase Wallet.
MetaMask is probably the best option for those who are ready to dive full steam into the Ethereum ecosystem, while those who want to safeguard their Ethereum and NFTs for the long haul are better off with a hardware wallet like the Trezor T – although they will be paying a premium for this.