NGRAVE ZERO Review: Is This Hardware Wallet the Future of Crypto Storage?
The NGRAVE ZERO is the most secure wallet on the market, with higher security certifications than both Ledger and Trezor. Without pre-installed private keys, you can be sure there is no backdoor and you have truly sovereign control over your assets.
As many of our readers and viewers know, here at the Coin Bureau, we preach the importance of self-custody and securely storing funds in cold storage via hardware wallets. Using a hardware wallet is one of the most important steps every crypto user can take to truly own their own crypto in the most secure manner possible, which is why I’m excited to be bringing this NGRAVE ZERO hardware wallet review to you today.
If you guys are anything like me, as much as I love the Trezor wallet for its security, it is hard to get excited about a small piece of plastic or a USB stick looking device like Ledger that needs to be plugged into a computer. Like many of you, I feel like the next generation of hardware wallet is long overdue as Trezor and Ledger already feel like ancient tech, and nothing has really come along to shake up the hardware wallet market. The NGRAVE ZERO may finally be the next-gen tech we’ve been waiting for.
The folks over at NGRAVE were kind enough to send us their new ZERO wallet to test out for ourselves and review. I must admit, it has been pretty interesting diving into this nifty piece of kit. As you guys also know, here at the Coin Bureau, we don’t do paid or sponsored reviews, so, as always, this review will remain unbiased and honest. We would never recommend or positively review something that we would not use ourselves, and if the NGRAVE ZERO is 💩, you bet I wouldn’t sugarcoat it. At the Coin Bureau, our number one priority is always honesty and transparency.
Anyway, without further ado, go grab a cup of your favourite warm beverage, kick back, and let’s unpack the NGRAVE ZERO together and see what it has to offer.
Benefits of a Hardware Wallet
If you are new to crypto, then we should quickly cover some basics. Hardware wallets are devices that hold your private keys securely in an offline environment and are praised for being the best solution for crypto security. There are 4 main ways in which crypto users store their digital assets:
On an Exchange - This is the least safest method, but most convenient. Many crypto users never take their crypto off of an exchange, but this is a really bad idea unless you are actively trading funds. Crypto exchanges are popular targets for hackers, and you do not actually own your crypto when it’s held on an exchange or centralized platform.
If you think these risks are unlikely, only 2 of the top 8 exchanges haven’t been successfully hacked, and in 2022, we have seen Celsius, Vauld, and Voyager freeze customer assets and halt all customer withdrawals. Ultimately, it is the exchange that owns the assets held on their platforms and they can do what they please with them. So yeah, centralized platforms are not a great place to hold crypto.
Software Wallets/Hot Wallets - These are wallets that can be downloaded onto a phone or desktop computer. While these are leaps and bounds better than keeping funds on an exchange, as users truly control and own their crypto, the fact that these wallets are held on devices with 24/7 access to the internet leaves funds vulnerable to hackers. These are referred to as “hot” wallets, hot meaning internet connectivity.
There are countless stories of computers being infected with viruses or malware that expose private keys to hackers, resulting in loss of funds. Before the Coin Bureau, I had a job where I would often investigate crypto losses from a popular software wallet, and it was heart-breaking to see how common users lost all their funds due to malware on their devices.
Hardware/Cold Storage Wallets - These represent the most commonly adopted approach among crypto users who prioritize secure cryptocurrency storage. These devices are designed to safeguard the private keys essential for accessing cryptocurrency assets while maintaining an offline, or "cold," status. This offline nature ensures that these wallets remain impervious to hacking attempts, viruses, or malware. Even if a computer or connected device becomes infected with malicious software, a hardware wallet can safely engage with the compromised system without jeopardizing the security of the private keys. Well-known examples of hardware wallets that belong to this category include Trezor, Ledger, and the ZERO wallet, which I am currently evaluating.
Paper Wallet - This is arguably the most secure, as last time I checked, you definitely cannot hack a piece of paper. Though this is incredibly inconvenient as paper also cannot send crypto transactions. Paper is also vulnerable to damage and loss. Paper wallets are mostly used by old-school cypher punks and are no longer very common.
The number 1 risk to crypto-assets is private key exposure to those with malicious intents which is why hardware wallets have grown in popularity. They provide a good balance between security and convenience, and hodlers can sleep soundly at night knowing their funds are safe. Hardware wallets not only store your private keys in the most secure manner but also sign transactions on a user’s behalf when verified by the holder, adding another layer of protection against unauthorized transactions.
Many popular hardware wallets need to be plugged into a computer to work, and some cyber security experts and those who suffer from tin-foil hat paranoia still feel that this is a security concern, as having a port with computer access can still be potentially breached. Therefore, many top crypto security firms only use “air-gapped” wallets and methods which result in the wallet never needing to come into physical contact with a computer.
I am not a security expert, and honestly have no idea if this is a legitimate cause for concern as the importance of being air-gapped is a topic that is widely debated, but the fact that most crypto exchanges and crypto custodial firms ensure crypto is stored in an air-gapped environment leads me to believe there may be something to the concern. And whether being air-gapped helps or not, it certainly can’t hurt to err on the side of caution.
If you want to learn more about the best hardware wallets, check out our article on the Top 5 hardware wallets, alternatively, you can find Guy’s picks on the top 5 hardware wallets below:
Spoiler Alert ⚠️: The NGRAVE ZERO is not on our top 5 pick lists as these were released before we reviewed the wallet.
Double Spoiler Alert ⚠️⚠️: There is a good chance the ZERO will be making the top 5 list when we update this content in the future.
What is “Air-Gapped,” and why does it Matter?
Few crypto wallets are fully air-gapped, the three that come to mind are the Ellipal Titan, Keystone, and the NGRAVE ZERO. Much of the security of an air-gapped wallet lies in the fact that it never comes into contact with internet, Bluetooth, mobile networks, or any other network connections, so trying to hack one would be like trying to hack a watermelon, good luck.
The NGRAVE ZERO crypto hardware wallet comes with a camera and relies purely on QR code technology and a corresponding mobile phone app to send and receive transactions. I will go over the app later in this article, having to use the mobile app in no way reduces the security of the device as the private keys never come into contact with the phone.
NGRAVE ZERO Review: Features
I had known about the NGRAVE ZERO for a while and was looking forward to finally being able to get my hands on one. NGRAVE had done a great job on brand and marketing, building quite a bit of hype and excitement around the device from sites like Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and a seed funding round where they raised $6 million from the likes of Woodstock Fund, Morning Star Ventures, DFG Group and more. In total, NGRAVE had investments from thousands of investors ranging from retail to private and public investment firms. Easy to attract investors when you've got a great product.
As soon as I opened and unpacked the box, right away I knew that this was definitely something entirely different from the likes of my Trezor or Ledger.
The ZERO device itself looks and feels more akin to a high-quality, well-built military-grade smartphone than a hardware wallet. I felt like I could probably punt the thing outside my third-story window and the concrete below would be more damaged than the device. Obviously, I did not try this and wouldn’t recommend it.
It felt substantially more durable than the Trezor Model T, which always feels like it might break if I sneezed on it or looked at it the wrong way. As mentioned, the ZERO stores crypto private keys and is used for signing transactions, NGRAVE promises its users the most secure cryptocurrency storage solution on the planet with an impenetrable security system, which we will cover in-depth later on.
Here are the NGRAVE ZERO Specifications and contents of the box:
- The ZERO is a pocket-sized touch screen device with the following dimensions:
- Width: 124.5 mm
- Height: 72.7 mm
- Thickness: 14.5 mm
- Weight: 217 g
- 4-inch colour high pixel density screen. Resolution of 480 x 800 pixels
- USB-C Charging Cable
- LCD screen 600 Cd/m2 touch screen
- 640 x 480 built-in camera
- fingerprint sensor
- Built-in light sensor
- On/Off button on the side of the device
- NGRAVE ZERO is water and dust resistant
- Tamper-resistant due to its inner and outer casing
- The device is military-grade, premium quality and black in colour
- The ZERO is the only hardware wallet in the world that is EAL7 certified
- Comes with an app called NGRAVE LIQUID to securely sign, manage, and transfer your assets
- Comes with 2 GRAPHENE metal plates and metal punch to secure your NGRAVE Perfect Keys
- The battery is 1200 mAH
NGRAVE ZERO: Security
While it is nice that the ZERO is beautifully designed, high-quality, and clearly a premium crypto storage device, that all means nothing if the security is lacking. It is the security features of this device that I am the most impressed by. The ZERO utilizes security features that I have never seen before in any crypto device and can’t be found in any other wallets that I know of. Though there are some concerns I have that I will mention near the end of the article.
The device is the first hardware wallet in the world that is EAL7 certified, which is the highest security certification in the world for the blockchain and financial industry. After devices like the Trezor and Keepkey were found to have security vulnerabilities after hackers were able to break open the devices and use sophisticated tools that used electrical impulses to extract information from the chips, NGRAVE made the ZERO impenetrable by design.
The ZERO has a biometric fingerprint scanner for optional additional security that can be enabled to access the device and/or confirm transactions, and the device and corresponding app are pin protected. And here is something really cool, the ZERO also has a light sensor built-in to generate the most secure private keys on the planet, known as the “NGRAVE Perfect Key”. There are two ways to secure and backup the wallet, which I will cover in the next section.
Along with being EAL7 certified, compared to the EAL5 certification held by Ledger, the ZERO is also ROHS, and CE certified, which are the certifications held by Trezor. By holding all of these certifications, the NGRAVE ZERO has achieved the highest security assurance and certification in the world, a clear step above the existing hardware wallets on the market today. Here is a look at the NGRAVE security framework and how it compares to other crypto storage solutions as per the NGRAVE Whitepaper:
The NGRAVE wallet is charged and transmits firmware updates through a USB-C port. All firmware updates are verified in an isolated partition, which is fully isolated from the operating system, eliminating attacks that may be carried out through the USB-C port. The updates occur in a section of the operating system that is not related to the security components of the device.
NGRAVE ZERO also has an integrity verifier in the ARM®TrustZone® module, so when the wallet boots up, it regularly checks the software to find out if there are any sort of unwanted or unverified running tasks. The module checks for authenticity and integrity, making sure no malicious actors are trying to gain unauthorized access to the device.
There is no debugging access in the wallet either, removing the possibility of using chip flashing techniques to gain unauthorized access to the device, a known exploit that could be used to access other hardware wallets. The ZERO’s firmware also cannot be modified, if the device detects someone trying to access the hardware, it will wipe itself and the keys.
NGRAVE Perfect Key and Recovery Phrase
Of all the features that set the ZERO apart from traditional hardware wallets, the NGRAVE Perfect Key is probably the biggest. For anyone who doesn’t know, almost every software or hardware wallet will come with a 12 to 48-word recovery seed phrase that can be used to recover the private keys for a wallet. It is incredibly important that this seed phrase is kept private, secure, and only known by the user and never shared or kept online where hackers can get it.
Anyone who has access to these words can access all the funds on the wallet. This is also how it is possible to recover your funds if you lose or break a device.
A common misconception is that people think a crypto wallet holds their crypto. This isn’t true, a wallet holds the keys that are needed to access their crypto. Bitcoin can never leave the Bitcoin network and enter your wallet, the Bitcoin you own stays on the blockchain network (same with all cryptocurrencies), and your wallet simply provides you with the interface and keys needed to interact with your crypto that is stored securely on the network.
This is why you could throw your Trezor, ZERO, or phone with your crypto wallet on it out of a helicopter into the ocean, and you could download a brand-new crypto wallet or buy a new device, enter your recovery seed phrase, and poof, just like magic, your funds will still be there. Here is a nice graphic from CryptoManiaks that highlights this, it says “Bitcoin seed phrase,” though it is the same for nearly all crypto wallets regardless of the cryptocurrency:
So, What Makes NGRAVE so Revolutionary Here?
When you order a hardware wallet or download one, the wallet comes with a pre-set and predefined recovery phrase. This is why some people lose funds when they purchase a hardware wallet second-hand, as the original owner noted the phrase then swiped the funds from the new user.
While unlikely, a predefined recovery phrase also raises a risk that the hardware wallet company or issuer of the software wallet may know the seed phrase associated with the wallets they ship out. Again, this is incredibly unlikely, but how do we know that Trezor or Ledger do not have a database of all the private keys for the devices they ship out? We just need to trust them on that.
This exact risk has caused the loss of substantial amounts of crypto as hackers often upload fake apps to app stores that mimic real software wallet apps, where they were simply able to swipe the funds once a user downloaded the false app and loaded the wallet with crypto.
Another point of concern is that traditional hardware wallets rely on a chip within the device that holds important information such as pin codes and private keys, which have been proven to have back door vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers with sophisticated tools. NGRAVE has found a way to change all of this.
The NGRAVE ZERO is the only wallet that generates a private key in real-time upon setup and uses interactions such as your fingerprint, shuffling keys, and a built-in light sensor to measure the surrounding light, taking a user's unique and specific environment into consideration to ensure pure randomness and uniqueness when creating a private key. This also ensures that there was no private key associated with the device prior to setup.
How this works, is that when a user first sets up the device, instead of coming with a pre-set recovery phrase like other crypto wallets, the user will be taken through a series of steps to set up the “NGRAVE Perfect Key”, where the keys will shuffle on the screen and the user can choose to stop the shuffle at any time, then further randomly select portions of the key to swap out for other partial keys.
The NGRAVE Perfect Key is a 64-hexadecimal equivalent of a 24-word mnemonic phrase. Hexadecimal means that each character of the key can have one of 16 values (0-9; A-F). The total key consists of 64 characters, that together with the 16 possible values makes up a 256-bit key.
NGRAVE utilized the expertise of leading cryptography researchers to come up with this format because it allows for:
- A key generation process where user interaction is possible
- Adding a double security layer in the backup by completely splitting the key into two parts on the GRAPHENE, which will be covered later
- An ingenious recovery mechanism of the key (the GRAPHENE upper plate can be recovered without 3rd party risk)
- True randomness- it is impossible for anyone to know the recovery phrase of the device prior to when the user sets it up.
This is why they called it the “Perfect Key.”
Now, for anyone who knows a thing or two about crypto self-custody may have alarm bells ringing as I did. The biggest concern here is that traditional mnemonic phrases used by nearly all wallets are interchangeable. Meaning if Trezor goes out of business and your device breaks, you can enter your recovery phrase into nearly any wallet that supports the same private key format and recover your funds.
The NGRAVE Perfect Key can only be restored into wallets that support this format, which is only the NGRAVE ZERO at this time. No worries though, NGRAVE were a step ahead here, and you can enter the menu and see both the NGRAVE Perfect Key AND the 24-word traditional mnemonic recovery phrase, so you could restore the funds from your ZERO to most other wallets.
Whew! That would have been a deal-breaker for me otherwise, I love that foresight from the NGRAVE team.
Tip: While the Perfect Key along with the GRAPHENE is a fantastic match, offering the highest security in the wallet industry, I would also back up the old-fashioned way with the 24-word phrase, just in case you ever needed to recover your funds into a traditional wallet.
NGRAVE put together this fantastic, incredibly detailed article that covers everything about traditional recovery phrases and really “nerds-out” on information about the Perfect Key and GRAPHENE if you would like to dive deeper.
NGRAVE GRAPHENE- A Breakthrough in Private Key Recovery and Security
If you were wondering what the heck the massive metal plates were all about, here you go. This is the method NGRAVE chose to allow users to backup their 64-hexadecimal recovery “Perfect Key” and establish an ingenious breakthrough in private key recovery.
NGRAVE performed a security study that showed that 54% of hardware wallet owners’ keys are vulnerable and focused on a way to improve this.
As you can see, the study found that most people keep their backup recovery phrase in one place. This is due to other wallets sending a card where users write down their full recovery phrase, if someone found this card, they could access the funds. With the GRAPHENE, there is no single point of failure, malicious actors would need both plates to do any damage.
So, while most hardware wallets come with a piece of paper to note the recovery phrase, not the ZERO. You’re looking at two cold hard stainless-steel plates that are the size of an A5 piece of paper and weigh 682g (24 0z). These things feel like they could stop a bullet, (and probably could). These are advantageous over traditional paper private key recovery cards for the following reasons:
- Robust - resistant to fire, floods, corrosion, shocks, and your dog can’t tear these up.
- Indecipherable - Both plates are encrypted and can only reveal the key when used together, removing the single point of failure risk that exists with the paper method. If someone finds your paper backup, they can steal your funds. Keeping the metal plates in separate locations adds another layer of security.
- Recoverable - This one is big, the ZERO is the only wallet on the market that provides a recovery mechanism without third-party risk. Each upper plate comes with a unique code, which allows users to order a new plate if they lose theirs or need a copy. As each upper plate is made with a unique combination of letters and numbers, NGRAVE will be able to send you an upper plate that matches the old one, but without knowing your phrase as they do not have access to the bottom plate.
The GRAPHENE top plate has 64 columns and 16 hexadecimal (0-9, A-F) possible values for each column, resulting in 256bit security. The lower plate comes blank, a metal punch is included in the box so users can punch the key into the back plate using the top plate to mark the values shown on the ZERO device during setup.
After the embossing process of punching dents in the back plate, the key is only revealed when both plates are put together.
This arrangement creates an impenetrable cryptographic puzzle as no two top or bottom plates will match. By keeping plates stored in separate locations, crypto owners will overcome the single point of failure problem, and can also recover lost recovery phrases, something not possible with any other crypto wallet unless the company knows your recovery phrase, which defeats the purpose of a self-custodial wallet.
Note that the GRAPHENE product is optional and costs extra. For users who do not want to secure their private key on a giant hunk of metal, the wallet also comes with a piece of paper to back up a private key the old-school way by writing down a 24-word mnemonic phrase.
LIQUID Mobile App
In order to make transactions, crypto wallets need to have some way of accessing the internet. There are many ways to connect hardware wallets, most commonly through a USB cord, with some wallets using Bluetooth, Wi-FI, NFC and more. To me, connecting through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and especially NFC just seems like a bad idea, making the extra security intentions of a hardware wallet redundant.
Looks like the folks at NGRAVE agree, which is why the ZERO communicates with the LIQUID phone app via QR codes, reducing the digital attack surface as it has no vulnerable points of entry that can be exploited by attackers.
Here is a look at how the ZERO interacts in a secure manner with the LIQUID app:
When you receive the ZERO, there will be an instruction book with a QR code, and the device itself will also have a QR code that you can scan with your phone upon setup which will take you to the app download page. I always recommend using this method or finding the download link directly from a company website and never search for apps manually in app stores due to multiple scam apps that are around that mimic the real ones.
Once the app is downloaded on the mobile, accounts can be synced between the two devices by scanning a QR code, this is the way all communication will happen between the ZERO and LIQUID mobile app. The wallet interacts with LIQUID, which then communicates with the blockchain, never exposing the private keys.
The LIQUID app provides a real-time portfolio view without the need to use the ZERO. I really like this feature, being able to check on my portfolio in real-time, anytime, without having to fire up the ZERO is a huge plus. I find with my Trezor, I need to dig it out from its secure hiding place and plug it in someplace secure on my computer just to check on my portfolio.
The app is used for initiating outgoing transactions and locating the addresses needed to receive transactions, viewing NFTs, and creating new wallets easily with one tap, so you can have multiple Ethereum addresses for example.
In case you are wondering how the ZERO and mobile work in conjunction, here is a diagram showing how easy the transaction process is:
NGRAVE is a Belgian blockchain and digital asset security provider aiming to make highly secure products that are also user-friendly. The NGRAVE product suite is built in close collaboration with a world-leading institution in nanotechnology, the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC), along with a research group for applied cryptography, The Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography (COSIC), along with other top-tier partners and advisors.
I like seeing this as the NGRAVE core and development team work alongside academia experts to collaborate on building the best possible crypto products available. Let’s look at the founders of NGRAVE:
CEO, Co-Founder - Ruben Merre
Ruben is a serial entrepreneur who launched his first business at just 8 years old. 8 years old? Wow. When I was 8 it was all gummy bears, playing in dirt, and filling my pockets with worms. Ruben has led and launched many international tech projects including algorithmic trading platforms.
Ruben was named as one of Belgium’s 40 under 40, studied at the University of Oxford as part of the Oxford Blockchain Strategy Programme, and is a certified Project Management Professional.
CTO, Co-Founder - Xavier Hendrickx
Xavier studied computer science partially through university before going on to self-learn. Interesting to see how many brilliant minds ditch academia to pursue self-study. Xavier has been in the crypto space since 2013, a serious OG. After being affected by the Mt. Gox hack in 2014, and working as the CTO for Swarm City, which was also hacked, Xavier became hyper-focused on crypto security and passionately engaged in developing his own blockchain applications. Xavier worked as a blockchain developer for a blockchain company called Arkade City before co-founding NGRAVE.
COO, Co-Founder - Edouard Vanham
Edouard has years of experience working in both the IT and Business sectors, working as a management and financial services consultant. He has good experience in back-end solutions and has a robust knowledge of business operations and processes.
Edouard holds a Masters of Business Engineering, Business/Managerial Economics which is no small feat, looks like he is well equipped to take on the tasks of a Chief Operations Officer.
Now, after learning about the team, my first concern was a lack of cryptography and cybersecurity experience needed to pull off something like the ambitious task of creating the world’s most secure crypto wallet. After digging deeper, it looks like the NGRAVE team also realized this, and did something truly impressive. They somehow managed to attract the attention and leverage the expertise of one of the most brilliant cryptographic minds on the planet as a project advisor.
Advisor - Jean-Jacques Quisquater
Jean-Jacques is a seriously heavy hitter, being a leading figure in cryptography and hardware security for over 50 years. He is a Belgian cryptographer and professor at the University of Louvain. Jean-Jacques received the RSA Award for Excellence in Mathematics in 2013, and the ESORICS Outstanding Research Award.
He is a member of the IEEE, a tenured member at the Royal Academy of Belgium, and an honorary member of ARCSI. He is one of the pioneers of blockchain technology, notably with the TIMESEC project conducted since 1996. He holds multiple patents in the field of cryptography, and wait, it gets better…
Jean-Jacques was cited as the second reference in Bitcoin’s 2009 whitepaper by Satoshi Nakamoto.
After finding out Jean-Jacques was involved in the project, and working in collaboration with the IMEC and COSIC, no other hardware wallet comes close to this level of collaboration from such high-calibre industry experts. I have very little concern over the security of the ZERO.
NGRAVE ZERO Setup
You may be thinking that something so robust in security might be pretty cumbersome to set up, but the team did a great job making the setup of the ZERO as quick and easy as possible. I was able to go from unboxing to sending transactions in about 20 minutes, no fuss at all.
The hardest and most time-consuming part was using the metal punch on the GRAPHENE. This step took me about ten minutes and is quite the effort, reminding me that I should try and get to the gym more. This step is not grandma-friendly as there are some physical effort requirements here.
I don’t want to go into too much detail on the bits and pieces of setting it up, as you’ve likely already gathered how most of the process works as you read through this review and much of it would be repeated here. Also, the NGRAVE team has done an amazing job with their short but detailed how-to videos and articles and did a better job than I could. Check out their Getting Started tutorial videos for all the guides that walk you through the process. It was surprisingly simple and straightforward.
Asset Support and NFTs
Finally, I can mention something that needs work. I feel like I have been only praising the wallet so far and haven’t found anything to pick apart.
As the product is fairly new, asset support is not great. At the time of writing, there are only 13 different blockchains supported, though the ERC20 token support is good, with other 1,500 Ethereum tokens supported. Here is an image showing what is supported:
I like that the team rolled out NFT support right away, NFT storage is becoming very popular. At the moment, the wallet only supports Ethereum NFTs, with plans to expand to other networks soon.
While the asset support isn’t great now, this is part of the normal evolution process for all hardware wallets. Wallets such as ZERO, Trezor, and Ledger are adding new token and blockchain support all the time. Trezor and Ledger have had years to build up their asset support catalogue, and Trezor still doesn’t support popular coins like Cosmos, Solana, or Polkadot, so it is a slow process to add new coin support.
Functionality and Design
The first thing that stood out to me was how easy and functional the ZERO is. As we are all familiar with touchscreen smartphones, the ZERO is familiar and intuitive. There is a menu to access settings, an icon to access the sync feature, and an icon to open the QR code scanner.
Assets can be enabled or disabled so the device only shows what assets are relevant to you. The LIQUID App is well-designed as well, very easy to navigate and use, I couldn’t find fault with the UI/UX of either the ZERO or LIQUID app.
The sending transaction function is very straightforward:
The transaction process is initiated on the mobile app, simply select the coin, enter the address or scan QR code, enter the amount and hit send. Some coins also allow you to change the transaction/gas fee if you want the transaction to be sent slow or fast.
The transaction speed doesn’t need to be adjusted as the app will automatically select the optimal fee. Once you hit confirm, you will be taken to another screen that will display the details of the transaction, along with a scannable QR code, be sure to double-check all the transaction details.
Then you will need to grab the ZERO device, hit the scan icon or enter the coin you want to send, and scan the QR code displayed on the phone. The ZERO will then prompt you to sign the transaction.
Once you hit sign, you will need to enter your security pin and/or scan your fingerprint to confirm the transaction. The ZERO will now show another QR code, which you will need to scan with the mobile app to broadcast the transaction to the blockchain network.
Then the app will provide you with a transaction hash. Receiving is as easy as just finding your receiving address on either device and providing it to the sender or sending platform.
Overall, both the app and the ZERO are very well designed and easy to use. The ZERO device itself feels incredibly durable, it is easy to see right away that the team set out to set the bar considerably higher than the competition.
NGRAVE ZERO Review: What I Didn’t Like
My overall impression is that this product is fantastic, both from a security and usability perspective. Though one issue right off the bat when I first turned the device on was the touchscreen was completely unresponsive. I thought, “great, I just turned it on, and it is broken.”
A quick look through their self-help article shows that I wasn’t the only one with this trouble, and the article simply stated that restarting the device will resolve the issue. Which it did, so no big problem there. Just an FYI that if you purchase this device and the touchscreen doesn’t work, a simple restart should resolve the problem.
The other thing that I can’t say I love is that this device is pretty big. It is basically the size of a smartphone, and I couldn’t quite figure out why the size was necessary as it is only used to store private keys and sign transactions. Why does it need to be way larger than my Trezor?
I get that the device is going to be heavier as it is made of metal unlike Trezor which is plastic, and understandably a bit larger as it has the camera and fingerprint scanner, but I don’t fully understand the point of making these devices so large so that it can have a 4-inch screen, with other wallets like the Ellipal and Keystone being similar.
The LIQUID app is used more often to look at your portfolio/NFTs and to initiate transactions, so I don’t fully grasp the need for this large of a screen on the wallet itself.
Though this may just be my personal preference as many users complain about the tiny screens on Ledger and the Trezor One, so there is clearly a desire for more screen real estate, though it is a bit overkill in my opinion. The last thing I need is another device cluttering up space along with my mobile phones, tablets, laptops, etc.
Though the larger screen does allow for the viewing of all transaction details on one screen, making verification, menu navigation, and seeing information like recovery phrases easier, I'll likely grow to appreciate the larger screen with time.
Another thing I am concerned about is a big concern for a lot of users. The software used by NGRAVE is not open-sourced, meaning that it has not been verified as secure by the community and third parties. This is in stark contrast to Trezor, which is completely open-source, and gives crypto users confidence because anyone can go in and verify the code, ensuring there are no holes in the security and no back door clauses that could result in the team maliciously extracting funds.
Though many don’t feel this is too big of a concern, as Ledger also does not use open-sourced firmware and is one of the most popular wallets on the market. NGRAVE also stated that they do plan to open source their software in the near future, so that will be a huge vote of confidence from me.
I also feel like it is worth mentioning the price here, as this is one of the most expensive wallets on the market, coming in considerably more expensive than the industry-leading Ledger or Trezor.
To get your hands on the ZERO plus GRAPHENE, it’s gonna set you back 498 EUR or 398 EUR for just the ZERO device. As this is a premium-made device, I understand the higher price tag, but many crypto holders may not want to shell out this kind of cash. Though for hodlers with a lot of funds who want the best security possible, many will consider this a worthwhile investment for keeping their crypto assets safe.
And my final concern is just around the lack of track record here. This may make me sound old school, but I like trusting things that have been seriously battle-tested and withstood the test of time. Both Trezor and Ledger have been around for years, if there were any serious remote security vulnerabilities, someone surely would have found them by now. Using the NGRAVE ZERO requires a bit of faith and trust from early adopters, similar to adopters of new blockchain protocols, or any new software or technology.
Though I will say that the fact that the ZERO meets and exceeds the robust security certifications that have been battle-tested, the same ones used by Trezor and Ledger does give me massive confidence in the product, as we know that these are the tried, tested, and true industry standards that have withstood the test of time.
So, Am I Trusting the NGRAVE ZERO With My Crypto?
You bet. I have already sent and am storing a portion of my portfolio on the ZERO. Like a good crypto hodler, I spread my funds across various wallets and am thrilled to be able to add the ZERO to my family of hardware wallets. I do have a feeling I will be using the ZERO more than the Ledger or Trezor in the future for more day-to-day transactions as it is so darned convenient with the app, and I am incredibly impressed by the insanely robust security protocols of the device.
**Update** After a few months of the Coin Bureau team having hands-on experience with the NGRAVE ZERO, we have become quite impressed, and I have personally found myself using my ZERO more and more. After becoming confident in the security and loving the design, we swung a deal with the NGRAVE team to give our community discounted access to the wallet. Users who check out with the code COINBUREAU, or purchase through our NGRAVE link will enjoy a 10% discount. Nice!
The NGRAVE Roadmap
It is good to know that this wallet is just going to keep getting better and better as well, the team has rolled out their plans for future updates which you can see below:
While the functions are currently fairly limited as this is a new product, the roadmap for new features looks exciting. This wallet will certainly be a powerhouse once these are implemented.
Frequently Asked Questions
While it is impossible to confidently say that something can never be hacked, the fact that the ZERO is air-gapped and meets the strictest security requirements means it cannot be hacked by any known hack methods to date. It is incredibly unlikely that this device can be hacked.
In my opinion, the ZERO is better from a user-friendliness and overall convenience/usability perspective. It is built with higher quality material, is more robust, and meets higher security standards than the Ledger. The test of time will tell if the ZERO is truly superior from a security perspective.
The Ledger has DApp access and integrates with WalletConnect, making the Ledger the better device for users looking to use their hardware wallet to engage with DeFi protocols and crypto apps at this time. The NGRAVE team is working on adding similar features to the ZERO.
In my opinion, the ZERO is better from a user-friendliness and overall convenience/usability perspective, along with significantly better material quality and build. It meets much higher security standards than the Trezor as well. The test of time will tell if the ZERO is truly superior from a security perspective.
The Trezor has more functionality as it supports WalletConnect and can interact with web DApps, wallets, and platforms at this time. The NGRAVE team is working on adding similar features for the ZERO.
As with all hardware wallets, always buy directly from the company website, and never second-hand to ensure you are receiving a legitimate device that has not been tampered with.
Unlike Ledger, there is no storage limit capacity restraints with the ZERO.
Yes, the ZERO has a 4-inch touchscreen and one button on the side for powering the device on and off.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.