Ledger Nano Crypto Hardware Wallets Review and Pricing

Here is everything you need to know about the safety, security, and convenience of Ledger wallets.

By Aliza Vigderman, Senior Editor, Industry Analyst
Ledger Wallet
Editors Rating:
8.2 /10

What We Like

What We Don't Like

  • No touchscreen: You have to use old-school buttons on a Ledger. We would love to see a touchscreen option.
  • Proprietary firmware: The firmware for Ledger is closed-source, meaning you have to trust that Ledger didn’t make security errors when designing it. We prefer open-source firmware, so that it can be vetted by the community.

Bottom Line

A Ledger wallet is an extremely secure way to store your crypto. And it’s great if you want excellent security at a low cost. But if you’re willing to spend more for features like a touchscreen or seedless recovery, you may want to consider Trezor, Keevo, or other hardware wallet alternatives.
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All the richest crypto whales are using Ledger wallets, and let’s be honest, they sure do look cool. But do you really need one?

When the Ledger Nano S was released in 2014, it became wildly popular because of its use of Secure Element (SE) technology. But its small memory bank and lack of a large screen turned off some crypto users.

Since then, Ledger has provided two higher-end models to address these complaints: the Nano X and Nano S Plus. Both have larger memory banks. The Nano X also has Bluetooth and a battery, two features that cannot be found on most competitors’ wallets.

But the question still remains, are any of these Ledger models worth the price you have to pay for them?

In this guide to Ledger wallets, I’m going to take a deep dive into this question. I’ll go over what a Ledger wallet is, how it works, how to help keep your crypto safe when using a Ledger wallet, what the differences are between the models, and more.

To start off with, let’s unpack the most basic question about these wallets: What is a Ledger wallet?

What is a Ledger Wallet?

Ledger Wallet
Ledger Wallet

Ledger is a brand of hardware wallet. But unlike wallets of most other brands, each Ledger wallet uses an SE chip. This makes it especially difficult to hack, even if someone has physical possession of the wallet.

FYI: A hardware wallet is a physical device that stores your private key, which ultimately controls your crypto account. Hardware wallets don’t directly have access to the internet, so they generally can’t be hacked unless the attacker gets physical possession of them. This is why hardware wallets (cold wallets) are considered more secure than software wallets (hot wallets).

If a thief gets ahold of a regular hardware wallet, he is usually confronted with a PIN code lock that prevents him from accessing the wallet’s key. But a hacker who knows what he is doing can bypass this lock using physical techniques like voltage glitching1 and side-channel attacks.2

Once the attacker gets the key using this method, he can access the victim’s crypto account and clean it out. This is why it’s usually a good idea to move your crypto out of your hardware wallet if you lose it or someone steals it.

Still, you may not realize right away that your hardware wallet has been stolen. So if a wallet has further security features that slow down the thief, this may make the difference between keeping and losing your crypto.

This is where Ledger comes in. Ledger wallets use the same SE technology as passports and credit cards to prevent voltage glitching and side-channel attacks. So if you are ever unlucky enough to have your hardware wallet stolen, this will provide a further layer of protection that may save your crypto from being stolen.

That’s what a Ledger wallet is. It’s a brand of hardware wallet that uses SE chips. Ledger claims to be the only wallet brand to use this technology.

Pro Tip: If you’re not yet ready to fork over cash for a Ledger wallet or other hardware wallet, you may want to consider using a free software wallet instead. Software wallets aren’t quite as secure as hardware ones, but they are still usually better than keeping your crypto in an exchange. I’ve written a complete guide to software wallets that goes over the various free options.

But you may wonder if a Ledger wallet is really safe. Is there still some way for an attacker to circumvent this protection and steal your crypto? I’ll discuss this in-depth, but first, let’s cover Ledger wallet devices and prices.

Ledger Models

Ledger offers three different models: the Nano X, Nano S Plus, and Nano S.

Nano X

The Nano X is the top-of-the-line Ledger model. It has a large memory bank that can hold up to 100 crypto network apps. This means that you won’t need to uninstall and reinstall wallet apps to use multiple crypto networks.

The Nano X also has Bluetooth capability and a battery for easy mobile transactions. If you would rather connect to your phone and power the device using wires, it includes a USB-C to USB-A cable for this purpose.

This model has a screen resolution of 128 x 64, so it’s especially easy to read.

The operating systems you can use the Nano X with are Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, and iOS.

The one big drawback to the Nano X is the price. It costs $149 and is therefore the most expensive Ledger model. But if you use multiple networks and/or do a lot of mobile transactions, the extra cost may be worth it.

Pro Tip: If you want to buy crypto on a mobile device, you’ll need a crypto app, ideally one with lots of different coins, low fees, and an easy-to-use interface. We’ve compiled a list of the best crypto apps based on exactly these criteria.

Nano S Plus

The Nano Plus is a step down from the Nano X in terms of mobile compatibility. But it still offers many of the same features for desktop at a lower price. It can hold up to 100 crypto network apps, making it an excellent choice for investors that use many different networks.

But this model doesn’t have Bluetooth capability or a battery, so you have to plug it into your phone to do mobile transactions; it only comes with a USB-C cable for connecting it to your computer.

Keep in mind that to connect your Nano S Plus to a mobile phone, you’ll need a separate Ledger OTG (On The Go) Kit, which costs an additional $17.99.

The Nano S Plus has a screen resolution of 128 x 64. It works with Windows, Linux, Mac OS, and Android operating systems, but not with iOS.

If you use multiple crypto networks but don’t do many mobile transactions, the Nano S Plus is an excellent choice. It costs $79, which is $60 less than the Nano X.

Nano S

The Nano S is the original, budget-friendly Ledger model. It offers the same security features as every other Ledger wallet, but can carry only six network apps at one time. This basically means that you can use only six different crypto networks at one time on the Ledger Nano S.

For example, let’s say that you own Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Binance Coin (BNB), Avalanche (AVAX), Cardano (ADA), and Solana (SOL). You initially set up your Nano S to send and receive crypto on all six of these networks.

Later on, you buy some Polkadot (DOT). But now your Nano S is full and can’t carry any more apps. So you have to delete your Bitcoin app (or one of the other ones) from the wallet in order to be able to use Polkadot.

Weeks go by, and now you want to make a Bitcoin transaction. You’ll have to reinstall your Bitcoin wallet to make transactions with it. If you have to do this a lot, this could be a real hassle.

But if you use fewer than six networks, you probably won’t encounter this issue.

The Nano S also has a screen resolution of 128 x 32, which is slightly lower than that of the other models, making it a little harder to read.

The Nano S has no Bluetooth connectivity or a battery, and it doesn’t work on iPhone or iPad. But for a budget-conscious crypto investor, it may be just good enough to be worth buying. It costs $59.

Ledger Wallet Pricing

Here are the prices for every Ledger model, in an easy-to-read table:

Model Price Key features
Nano X $149 Bluetooth, iOS compatible
Nano S Plus $79 Use up to 100 crypto networks at a time
Nano S $59 Has the same security features as all Ledger wallets, but costs less

Pro Tip: While you’re holding crypto in your Ledger wallet, you may want to consider depositing it into a DEX or crypto lending app to earn even more crypto. All three of these Ledger models can be connected to lending apps and used in decentralized finance (DeFi) apps, but there are some risks to using these apps as well. Check out my beginner’s guide to DeFi before diving in.

Is a Ledger Wallet Safe?

The bottom line is that a Ledger wallet is an extremely safe way to store your crypto. Like all hardware wallets, a Ledger keeps your private key on the device, where it generally can’t be accessed by hackers online. This is usually far safer than keeping it in a software wallet.

A Ledger wallet also keeps the control of your crypto in your hands instead of trusting it to a third party. There is no “password” for a Ledger wallet. So there is nothing for a hacker to steal from a remote server. And there is no way to reset a Ledger wallet without its backup seed words, which are not stored on a server. So in general, a Ledger wallet is a safer way to store your crypto than an exchange.

Did You Know: “Backup seed words” are words that can be used to derive all of your private keys. When you set up a crypto wallet, you have to write these words down on a piece of paper and store them in a safe place. If your device crashes, your accounts can be recovered using your seed words. For more information about how wallets work in general, you can read my in-depth crypto wallets guide.

But a Ledger is still not 100% secure. For example, Kaspersky Labs (creator of Kaspersky antivirus) got a team together and tried to find a way to breach the security of a Ledger wallet. In their research, they found that the separate, general-purpose microcontroller in a Ledger can be hacked and its firmware replaced. Once this is done, the attacker can make the Ledger sign a transaction to send crypto to his own address.

Kapersky admits that this does not allow the attacker to get the wallet’s private key or seed words, because “it is very hard to hack into a Secure Element directly and steal a cryptographic seed.” Instead, the attack succeeds by getting the wallet to send the crypto to a different address.3

It’s important to note that Kaspersky had to use very sophisticated techniques to pull off this hack and that it couldn’t have done it without having physical access to the device. So most Ledger users are highly unlikely to be the victim of this kind of attack.

Still, there are some even more common ways that you can lose your crypto in a Ledger wallet. In the next section, I’ll go over some common Ledger scams that can cause you to lose your crypto, and I’ll explain ways to protect yourself against these scams.

Common Ledger Wallet Scams

Here are a few common Ledger scams that can allow a thief to take off with your hard-earned crypto savings.

Fake Ledger wallets

Some scammers sell fake Ledger wallets on websites like eBay and Amazon. The wallet may have been modified to give you seed words owned by the scammer instead of random ones. The scammer monitors the accounts associated with these backup words, and when you transfer crypto to any of them, he immediately transfers them to a wallet completely under his control.

In another version of the scam, the modified wallet has had its firmware altered. When you use it to send crypto to another account, it substitutes the scammers account in the “To” field, and all of your crypto goes to the thief.

In yet another version of this scam, the attacker targets people who already own a Ledger wallet. He sends the user a “free replacement Ledger” in the mail and tells the user that there is a security flaw in the old unit that has been fixed in the new one. Attached to the new unit is a flash drive with a fake version of Ledger software on it.

When the user connects the wallet and runs the software, it asks for his seed words. The fake software records these seed words and sends them to the attacker. At that point, it’s game over.

To help defend against this kind of scam, buy only brand-new Ledger wallets directly from the manufacturer. And if you get sent an unsolicited wallet from someone claiming to be Ledger, go to support.ledger.com and use the “help” button in the bottom-right corner to contact customer service. Most likely, it’s a scam. But if the wallet really was sent by Ledger, the customer service team will let you know.

FYI: Buying a fake wallet is one of the most common pitfalls that cause people to lose money when investing in crypto. There are others, like forgetting that crypto transactions are irreversible, “aping” into a project based on hype, or approving a malicious Dapp to spend tokens. To help you spot these risks before it’s too late, I’ve written a guide to avoiding the most common crypto pitfalls.

Fake Ledger Live software

Another type of Ledger scam is fake Ledger Live software. Sometimes, you may need to reinstall Ledger Live for whatever reason. And if you’ve deleted the installation file, you may search for a downloadable version online.

The problem is that it’s very easy to download the software from somewhere other than the official website. For example, you might search for “Ledger Live download” and end up clicking on an ad instead of the organic search results. And it may turn out that the ad has been placed by a scammer who has created a fake version of the software. Or you may search for Ledger Live in the Apple App Store and land on a fake Ledger Live page.

Once you’ve downloaded the fake software and installed it, it will ask you for your seed words. If you enter the seed words, the thief will be able to steal all of your crypto.

To help avoid this scam, download Ledger Live only from the official download page (ledger.com/ledger-live/download) or from a mobile store page linked to from there.

In addition, don’t enter your seed words for your Ledger wallet into any kind of software on your PC or mobile device. Your seed words can be entered only on the Ledger device itself, using the buttons and the LED screen. It’s impossible to enter them on a PC and somehow have them get into the wallet. So if your copy of Ledger Live is asking you for this info, it probably isn’t an authentic copy.

These are the most common ways to lose your crypto even though you’re using a Ledger wallet (or what you think is a Ledger wallet).

Pro Tip: Storing crypto securely can seem complicated. For example, it’s easy to accidentally choose an illegitimate exchange, forget to enable two-factor authentication, or withdraw crypto to the wrong address. I’ve written this comprehensive guide on how to protect your crypto.

Is a Ledger Wallet Worth It?

There’s no question that using a Ledger wallet (or other hardware wallet) greatly increases the security of your crypto account, but it costs money to buy the wallet. Whether or not it’s worth it comes down to your personal risk preference.

If you’ve got more than a week’s pay invested in your crypto account, you may want to seriously consider getting a Ledger wallet. At that level of investment, getting hacked and having your crypto stolen may feel devastating. On the other hand, if you have only a couple of hundred dollars in it, you may want to wait until your crypto stash gets bigger before investing in a hardware wallet.

But it really just comes down to how nervous you feel about the thought of losing your crypto.

Keep in mind also that Ledger is not the only high-quality hardware wallet available. Trezor is a serious competitor to Ledger, as are newer brands like KeepKey and BitBox. I’ve written a complete guide to hardware wallets that describes options other than Ledger.

Wrapping Up

When used correctly, hardware wallets provide an extremely secure way to store crypto. And among all of the hardware wallet brands, Ledger provides a unique feature in that it is especially difficult to hack through physical attacks.

But no hardware wallet is 100% safe. There are still a few ways that you can lose your crypto when using a Ledger wallet.

If you follow the tips in this guide, you should be able to mitigate those risks while selecting the best Ledger wallet for your budget and life circumstances.

Editors Rating:
8.2 /10
Citations
  1. NCC Group. (2021, Jul 7). An Introduction to Fault Injection (Part 1/3).
    research.nccgroup.com/2021/07/07/an-introduction-to-fault-injection-part-1-3/

  2. TechTarget. side-channel attack.
    techtarget.com/searchsecurity/definition/side-channel-attack

  3. Kaspersky. (2019, Jan 10). How to hack a hardware cryptocurrency wallet.
    usa.kaspersky.com/blog/hardware-wallets-hacked/16959/