Crypto Exchange Huobi Announces New ‘Blockchain Phone’

In a surprising move, Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Huobi recently announced plans to release a cryptocurrency-focused “blockchain phone” by the end of 2019. Named the Acute Angle, the smartphone will use a modified version of the Android 9.0 (Pie) operating system running on an 8-core, 2.1GHz CPU, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. The 6.7-inch phone also includes a physically isolated, encrypted U-key for private key storage. It has a target retail price of $515.

Other technical details, such as the phone’s manufacturer and the specific model of CPU, have yet to be released. The initial version of the smartphone will not offer 5G connectivity, although this feature is planned for future models.

According to the press release, the Acute Angle is designed to support Huobi’s new Whole Network (NODE) token, which is set to launch later this month. The smartphone’s software includes a built-in wallet app (with optional cold wallet plugins), was well as a variety of pre-installed blockchain and cryptocurrency apps. Additionally, Huobi will provide users with a dedicated app store offering a “wide range of related apps and DApps.”

The phone also includes an “innovative mining/task reward feature” providing NODE tokens to users “simply for using and interacting with the crypto community” from the device. This suggests that the phone is designed to serve as a standalone cryptocurrency miner to support the NODE network, although this has not been explicitly stated by Huobi.

It’s not clear why Huobi has decided to enter into the notoriously competitive smartphone market, and the lack of technical details about the Acute Angle will likely keep many potential customers away. While competitively priced for a so-called “blockchain phone” — Sirin Labs’s Finney smartphone currently sells for $899 — such phones are in a niche market where price alone is rarely the deciding factor in a purchase. The situation is further complicated by Samsung’s recent adoption of cryptocurrency wallet protocols in their Galaxy S10 line, which currently offers SDK support for bitcoin, Ethereum, and other tokens through their “Blockchain Keystore.” What practical advantage a Huobi-branded, blockchain-focused smartphone would offer is unclear.

The Acute Angle is slated for release “across Southeast Asia” by the end of Q4, 2019, with retail releases planned for Europe and North America in 2020. Owners of the exchange’s Huobi Token (HT) can purchase the phone with HT starting on Aug. 15, roughly a month before retail pre-orders are available.