KeepKey Wallet Review 2018


Hardware wallets currently offer the most secure way to store cryptocurrencies. When the first hardware wallet was introduced, almost everyone considered them an added benefit. This is no longer the case. Hardware wallets are essential if you want to invest in cryptocurrencies.

In this article, I want to take you through every aspect of KeepKey and hopefully, help you understand everything you need to in order to make an informed decision. In case you haven’t seen it yet, I’ve also written a review of Trezor, which you should also go through to properly understand all of your options.


What I Like and Dislike about KeepKey

What I like

  • We expect a certain standard of quality in our tech hardware. KeepKey really is designed as a modern tech hardware. Most other hardware wallets look and feel like a decade old technology.
  • Its open-source firmware ensures that any possible vulnerabilities are immediately found by the community and is patched immediately.
  • It offers by far the best user experience due to its superior build and design.

What I dislike

  • The biggest point of contention for me is its lack of cross-platform support.
  • Also, the inability to recover my wallet on a third-party wallet is a huge downside. If need to recover my wallet, I don’t want to wait for a new device to be delivered. I want to recover it immediately.

Also, if you’re completely new to the world of cryptocurrency or just hardware wallets, in particular, you should definitely check out the article on cryptocurrency wallets. It will help you get to speed on what a hardware wallet is and options you can choose from.

Summary of Features

KeepKey client interface

KeepKey client interface

Price

KeepKey is available for $129. It might not be the cheapest wallet, especially if compared to Keepkey alternatives. It is still cheaper than its direct competitor, the Trezor Model One.

Ease of Use

Getting started with KeepKey is easy. But you will still have to invest some time to properly understand all of its safety features.

Security Features

As long as you utilize all of the wallet’s security features, the device is pretty much an impregnable vault.

Altcoin Support

KeepKey supports a huge array of cryptocurrencies, even the ones you’ve never heard off. However, its support for altcoins isn’t as broad as Trezor.

The Company Behind the KeepKey

KeepKey was a bit late to the hardware wallet market. The wallet hit the market in late 2015 after Trezor and Ledger had already defined the meaning of hardware wallets. However, KeepKey differentiated itself by offering a premium option for cryptocurrency investors.

Despite KeepKey’s late entry into the market, it soon created a place for itself in the cryptosphere. In the August of 2017, the Swiss cryptocurrency exchange, ShapeShift AG acquired the hardware wallet manufacturer. This created the first-ever API integrated hardware wallet with native cryptocurrency exchange functionalities.


First Look: KeepKey Review

This is basically what you’ll find when you open your new KeepKey Wallet. Source: BitcoinWalletGuy

This is basically what you’ll find when you open your new KeepKey Wallet. Source: BitcoinWalletGuy

KeepKey is a USB-based cryptocurrency hardware wallet. It was made available after Trezor and Ledger were already available but it offered a premium option in terms of a secure hardware wallet.

The most immediate difference about KeepKey is its sleek design. Most KeepKey alternatives offer a minimalist utilitarian design. However, KeepKey feels and looks like a premium product. It features a large touchscreen that you will use to confirm transactions.

Moreover, KeepKey is also a non-custodial exchange that allows us cryptocurrency investors to exchange different cryptocurrency without having to expose our private keys or our funds to various external threats.

While KeepKey might not support as a wide range of altcoins as Trezor does, it still supports a huge number of cryptocurrencies and altcoins. Unless you’re interested in the most obscure micro-cap altcoins, you should be perfectly happy with the number of altcoins that can be stored on the KeepKey wallet.

KeepKey Review: The Unboxing

Inside the KeepKey box, you will find the hardware wallet, a USB cable, a card for writing down your secret recovery sentence and a quick guide on how to get started with your new wallet. You should check out the video to get an idea of what you can expect when you open the package.

Design

KeepKey truly is a beautiful device. Source: KeepKey

KeepKey truly is a beautiful device. Source: KeepKey

KeepKey is a big device. Unlike its competitors, it really does stands out. You can comfortably carry the Trezor and Ledger in your pocket, but the same won’t be possible with KeepKey. But I should also note that KeepKey wasn’t designed for such use.

If you want a hardware wallet on you at all times, you should go with either the Ledger Nano or Trezor One. KeepKey, on the other hand, was designed not for portability, but for user-experience and security. Since you can trade directly from the device, you will probably want to use the device to store large quantities of cryptocurrencies.

If you look at it purely from an aesthetics point of view, there is absolutely no doubt that it is a gorgeous piece of hardware.

General Features and Specifications

KeepKey hardware wallet allows you to store your private keys in an offline and secure environment. It will protect you against both virtual and physical theft. You can even use it on a computer that is infected with malicious software without any real risk of losing access to your private keys or your digital assets.

How Does it Work?

KeepKey is essentially a port of Trezor, meaning it basically does everything that Trezor does in terms of security. As you already know, it keeps our private keys behind a firewall, which allows us to connect the device to a computer that is online without any risk at all.

KeepKey has a PIN code verification system that acts as a safeguard against unauthorized transactions. Furthermore, the virtual keypad is also randomized, which makes it virtually impossible to use keystroke software to steal the PIN code.

When we initially set up the device, it requires that we generate a seed code that is used to backup the entire device. The default seed code is 12 words, but the device also supports 18 and 24 seed lengths.

Specifications

Display

Full-Color Touchscreen

Screen

256 x 64 3.21” OLED

Processor

ARM® Cortex™ - M3

User-Friendly

Coins and Tokens

Security Features

PIN

Via KeepKey Device

Passphrase

Partially Via KeepKey Device and Computer

Device Recovery

Via KeepKey Device

Extra Features

Password Manager

U2F Authentication

Encryption Via GPG

SSH

On Device Encryption

Micro SD Card Support

Premium Support

Built-in UI

BIP32 Support

Security Features and Privacy

KeepKey hardware wallet is created with the sole intention to provide absolute security and protection against both physical and cyber theft. You could go and scour the internet for instances of the wallet failing to protect against hackers and you won’t find a single instance where the wallet failed.

Let’s go over some of the security and privacy features KeepKey offers:

PIN Code

Notice how the numbers are randomized? Even the little things matter when it comes to security. Source: CoinBuzz

Notice how the numbers are randomized? Even the little things matter when it comes to security. Source: CoinBuzz

The PIN code is an important feature of the wallet. After setting up the seed code, you are required to set up a PIN code. This PIN code is generated partially on a computer and the device in a two-step process.

You will use this PIN code for pretty much all of your interactions with the wallet. Every single transaction will require you to enter the PIN code to verify each and every individual transaction. If you forget the PIN code, you will have to reset the device and use the recovery seed to recover your private keys.

Moreover, KeepKey limits the number of incorrect PIN entries. Between every incorrect attempt, the device enforces a cooldown period to prevent attempting various combinations to force into the device.

Passphrase

Adding a passphrase is an add-on feature that you can enable for greater security. What this does is that it add another layer of security to your recovery seed code. You can even add multiple passphrases to make it even more difficult for people to access your private keys.

So in the unlikely event that someone does manage to get their hands on your recovery seed code, they would also need to know the passphrase in order to retrieve your private keys.

Recovery Sentence

A KeepKey wallet displaying the 12-word recovery sentence. Source: BraveNewCoin

EA KeepKey wallet displaying the 12-word recovery sentence. Source: BraveNewCoin

The first thing you will do when you boot your device is set up a recovery sentence. This allows us to completely backup the device. So if you lose the device or if you break it, you can simply recover the contents of the device on another KeepKey wallet. This ensures that you never get locked out of the vault by mistake.

By default, the recovery sentence is twelve words long. However, should you choose, you can opt to increase the code’s length up to a maximum of 24-words. Furthermore, the recovery code is generated using both the device and the computer it is connected to.

In case you need to recover your wallet, you will need to use the KeepKey’s Chrome extension app. It would be the same app you used to set up your wallet, meaning, you should be familiar with the client interface.

2-Factor Authentication

On the dual factor authentication side, KeepKey lacks a major feature, a feature that you’ll find on both Trezor and Ledger wallets. While KeepKey does have 2FA authentication in the form of the PIN code, it doesn’t have the universal 2-factor authentication (U2F), where you have to physically verify every transaction after entering the PIN code.

On the surface, this does seem like KeepKey lacks a key security feature, but there is a reason for that. Trezor and Ledger wallets are really small devices. You can even put them in a keychain and keep it on you at all times. This is why it makes sense that you are required to physically authenticate each and every transaction using the physical button on the wallet.

KeepKey, on the other hand, is nowhere near as small or portable. The wallet was not designed to be carried around in a keychain. It acts more like a secure bank vault. You’re not supposed to store small amounts of cryptocurrencies in it and take it with you like a traditional wallet. This is why KeepKey does not include the U2F feature.

Modifiable Firmware and Firmware Verification

KeepKey is the only hardware wallet that operates on an open-source firmware. This means that you can tinker with the firmware and make modifications as you see fit. The reasoning behind this is that this ensures that there are more eyes scrutinizing the firmware and it helps in the development of a more robust security system.

However, this also opens up the possibility of you receiving a wallet that has a modified firmware, modified specifically to steal private keys for instance. However, if a device contains custom firmware, the device will constantly warn the user about the custom firmware. In which case, you should contact customer support immediately..

Tamper-Resistant Packaging

The device is built in a way that it cannot be opened up and sealed up again. If someone does manage to physically open up the device and put it back together, you will clearly notice that the device was opened and glued back together.

Privacy

One of the major characteristics inherent to cryptocurrencies is the ability to perform anonymous transactions. Although cryptocurrencies aren’t entirely anonymous, they still offer a great degree of confidentiality. This is one of the major features that has resulted in the adoption of cryptocurrencies.

This is why any product or service that operates within the cryptosphere must adhere to the strictest of standards of customer privacy. This is why the company does not track any of its devices. In fact, they do not even have the capability to track and gather information on its devices and its users.


Cross-Platform Compatibility

Compatibility is an important aspect of a hardware wallet. The hardware wallet you choose should be compatible with the operating systems and software you’re already using. More importantly, it should support all of the cryptocurrencies you have or intend to acquire.

So let’s look at how KeepKey fares in terms of cross-platform compatibility:

KeepKey Supported Coins

The following cryptocurrencies can be stored on a KeepKey wallet.

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    Bitcoin
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    Bitcoin Cash
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    Litecoin
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    Dash
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    Ethereum
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    Aragon
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    Augur
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    Storj
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    Basic Attention Token
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    Civic Districtox
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    FunFair
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    Golem
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    Gnosis
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    OmiseGo
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    SALT
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    Bancor
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    ICONOMI
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    iExec
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    Status

It also supports all of the ERC-20 Tokens. For a complete list of KeepKey supported coins, you can visit KeepKey’s official website.

Operating Systems

KeepKey has been designed and tested to work perfectly with all three of the major operating systems. Whether you’re a Mac user, a Linux user or a Windows user, you shouldn’t have any trouble running the device on your preferred choice of operating system.

Browsers

As far as browsers are concerned, you won’t have any real choice. KeepKey has been primarily designed to work on the Chrome browser. The company insists that KeepKey users exclusively use the Chrome browser. Aside from that, the Chrome app works perfectly across all operating systems.

Third-Party Wallets

Unfortunately, KeepKey severely lacks in terms of third-party wallet support. As of writing this article, KeepKey is only compatible with Electrum wallet and that requires a bit of tinkering with the device. For example, you will be required to download and install the latest Python client.

The whole process seems redundant considering that most other hardware wallets are readily compatible with several different third-party wallets. If you are interested in learning how to integrate Electrum with your KeepKey device, consider visiting the KeepKey support desk.

Third-Party Wallet Recovery

In the unfortunate event that you find yourself in need to recover your wallet, you will need to be in possession of a KeepKey wallet. Unlike the Trezor, which allows us to recover our wallet even without a Trezor device, KeepKey does not offer such an option. So if you lose or break your wallet, you will have to buy another KeepKey wallet before you can recover your previous wallet.


KeepKey Alternatives and Price Comparison

Now that’s we’ve discussed what KeepKey is and what exactly it offers, let’s move on towards how much it costs. It’s important that we look at KeepKey alternatives along with KeepKey. Prices are relative in the sense that cost in terms of what we’re getting and what our alternatives are in and around a price range.

Below you will find prices of different hardware wallets along with where you could buy them:

As you can see above, KeepKey is quite modestly priced. Yes, it may be more expensive than the Trezor One and the Ledger Nano S, but they aren’t its direct competitors. The Trezor Model T is a direct alternative to KeepKey.

Both of these devices feature a full touchscreen and contain considerable processing power, which makes them special purpose mini-computers. The KeepKey is still considerably cheaper than the Trezor Model T. In fact, it's much closer to the simpler Trezor wallet than to its direct competitor Trezor Model T.

However, we can’t ignore the fact that Trezor Model T does offer far more features in terms of compatibility with cryptocurrencies, third-party wallets, third-party services, etc. If you want to directly compare the two wallets, I suggest you go over the Trezor wallet review.

How to Set Up Your New KeepKey Wallet

As soon as you connect the device to your computer, you will be taken to their “Get Started” page.

1) The first thing you will have to do is download the client app using the chrome extension tab.

Download the official KeepKey Client to your Chrome

2) After you’ve installed the KeepKey wallet client, you will most likely have to update your wallet’s firmware.

3) After you’ve updated the wallet’s firmware, the device will take you through each of the steps involved in the initialization process.

4) First off, you will have to set up your new PIN code using the scrambled number pattern on your device.

Choose your PIN code

5) After you’ve set up the PIN code, the device will generate the recovery seed. This is the only time the device will display the recovery seed. Make sure to carefully record it using the seed card provided with the device.

KeepKey recovery sentence

6) After you’ve recorded your recovery sentence, your KeepKey wallet will be ready to receive its first transaction.

Review and Testimonials

Below you will find the top positive and critical review of KeepKey on Amazon.

KeepKey Amazon Review
KeepKey Amazon Review

Although you should read as many testimonials and customer reviews as possible, still I thought I should include at least the top positive and critical reviews on Amazon.

As you can see from the reviews, the positive comment talks about the price, user experience, the design and the build on the device. The critical review points out some of the points we covered in the article. For example, the wallet lacks some of the basic features and cross-compatibility that should have been addressed by now.


A Few Important Questions Before Getting KeepKey

Question: What if I want to use the wallet app that I like instead of the KeepKey wallet client?

Answer: Unfortunately, KeepKey at this moment is only compatible with the Electrum Wallet. If Electrum wallet is your preferred choice, then you’re in luck. Otherwise, you will have to get used to new wallet client.

Question: How important is it to be able to recover a wallet on a third-party wallet client?

Answer: Honestly, it doesn’t matter much in the sense that your cryptocurrencies will be safe. However, on the emotional side, I understand the need to immediately recover the wallet. Just imagine sitting and waiting for your new wallet to be delivered so you can recover your wallet on a new device.

Question: How important could the integration of native exchange feature on a hardware wallet be?

Answer: It depends on the scale of your use. If you’re an investor or trader constantly looking for better returns by switching between different altcoins, then it definitely matters. In fact, it could even be the deciding factor for you. However, if you’re simply holding onto your cryptocurrencies for long-term gains, then it shouldn’t matter much.


My Final Thoughts

If you read my review on Trezor, then you should know that I am heavily biased towards the Trezor wallet. But I would also like to mention that I try my level best to be objective for the sake of these reviews and I do my best to clearly state where my biases are influencing my opinion.

With that in mind, I can say the with confidence that despite some of the shortcomings of KeepKey it still offers a lot of things that other wallets don't. For example, if you like to trade between different cryptocurrencies then KeepKey is the perfect choice for you. It allows you to avoid the risk of keeping your funds on an exchange while still having the ability to access the markets directly from the safety of your hardware wallet.

However, we can’t ignore KeepKey’s shortcomings either. I think it's completely ridiculous that KeepKey is still not compatible with third-party wallets and services. As with all choices, there are opportunity costs. Hopefully, this review will have informed you enough to make a thoughtful decision based on your personal situation and needs.

KeepKey Wallet Review 2018
5 (100%) 1 vote
Shahan Rehman
 

As a financial analyst, bitcoin was one of the first markets I was exposed to. Its emergence coincided with the beginning of my career. I became a bitcoin investor in 2013 and have been involved in various financial markets ever since.

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