The Ledger Nano S is a good choice for the average beginner-intermediate crypto user looking for an affordable hardware wallet. However, users who are looking to trade many cryptocurrencies at once or use their wallet on-the-go should consider another wallet.
- Pros and Cons
- Key Takeaways
Secure way to store crypto long-term
Only supports 3 cryptocurrencies at a time
The Ledger Live app can take some getting used to
Reports of poor customer service
- The wallet comes with its own built-in crypto exchange via the Ledger Live app.
- Easy and secure way to store many of the most popular cryptocurrencies.
- Users must install an app for each cryptocurrency they wish to manage.
- The wallet is compatible with Windows, Mac OSx, and Linus.
- Type of Wallet Cold storage hardware wallet
- Currencies 3
- Purchase Cost $59
- Incorporated Exchange Yes
- Device Size 56.95mm × 17.4mm × 9.1mm
- Mobile App No
The Ledger Nano S is Ledger’s most popular product and among the most popular hardware wallets in the world. The device is about the size of a cigarette lighter and features two small buttons and a screen.
We looked at the Nano S in terms of its security, price, supported currencies, user satisfaction, competing wallets, and more to help you decide if this is the right wallet for you.
Ledger was launched in 2014 by eight different computer security and cryptocurrency experts with the goal of creating a product that would make it easier for people to securely store their crypto. The company is headquartered in San Francisco and has over 130 employees around the world.
Ledger designed a unique operating system called BOLOS. In the case of hardware wallets like the Nano S, Ledger integrates this software into secure chips. The company also uses BOLOS for various enterprise solutions by integrating the operating system into a Hardware Security Module (HSM).
In addition to the hardware wallets they have become famous for, Ledger also works on security solutions for things like Internet of Things (IoT) devices and passwordless logins.
The Ledger Nano S supports over 1,100 different cryptocurrencies including these popular ones:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Ripple (XRP)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- EOS (EOS)
- Stellar (XLM)
Ledger’s website has a handy tool that allows users to search for any crypto and see if the Ledger hardware wallets support that coin or token. There’s also a list that can be sorted by various factors.
It’s important to note that the Ledger Live app only has native support for 22 of the most popular cryptocurrencies. The other 1,000+ can be integrated by installing third-party applications. Smaller or more niche cryptocurrencies might require integration with other wallets like MyEtherWallet, for example. This involves an extra step that could get confusing for novice users.
To manage any particular cryptocurrency on the Ledger Nano S, the appropriate app must first be installed. For example, to manage BTC, the BTC app must be installed. The device only has enough memory to store about three apps at once.
How It Works
To get started with the Ledger Nano S, you will have to first go through the standard process of creating a new wallet and backup seed phrase. Once that’s done, you will have to download the Ledger Live program and install one to three apps on your device, one for each specific cryptocurrency you’d like to use.
Ledger Live is compatible with Windows, Mac OSx, and Linux, although some users have reported running into difficulties on Windows devices.
While working with the wallet mostly happens in Ledger Live, users will have to use the Ledger device itself to navigate to different apps and confirm transactions. Each cryptocurrency in Ledger Live requires an “app” to be installed for users to be able to deposit, withdraw, or trade that currency.
The Nano S only has enough memory to hold three installed apps at any one time so if you want to use more than three, you’ll need to install an app, deposit that type of crypto, then uninstall the app. Your balances will remain, but to move those coins again, the appropriate app will have to be reinstalled.
This process of installing the needed apps might be one of the more confusing elements of using the Ledger Nano S. But the software makes things as simple as possible and once things are set up, it should be simple from there.
The sticker price of a Ledger Nano S wallet is $59, but the fine print says “tax and duty not included.”
When checking out, potential customers will notice an additional $20 or so added to their total. This includes the wallet itself, a USB cable for connecting to a computer, a keychain, and two paper cards for writing down the 24-word backup seed phrase. Shipping times will vary based on location, but user reviews generally seem to view things favorably.
The Ledger Nano S comes with a 24-word backup recovery seed phrase, a PIN, and Certified Secure Element (CC EAL 5+) hardware. When setting up a new wallet, you’ll choose a PIN that will be needed to access the wallet. A seed phrase will also be provided.
This 24-word string can be used to restore all the private keys on a wallet. It’s best to keep that phrase somewhere safe and never store it digitally. Anyone with access to the seed phrase can steal the coins from your wallet.
The PIN and seed phrase are standard among hardware wallets. If someone gains physical access to a wallet that isn’t their own, they usually can’t do much with it unless they have the PIN. On the other hand, if someone gets their hands on the backup seed phrase, they can get an empty wallet of their own and restore the balances that the seed phrase holds the keys to.
Ledger uses Secure Element chips. These are the same chips used in passports, SIM cards, credit cards, and similar devices. Ledger wallets are independently certified to be highly secure.
There are different degrees of Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL), and Ledger has achieved the level EAL 5+. There are only two levels above EAL 5. The company claims to be the only company to make hardware wallets that have achieved this level of security certification. While it can seem complicated, EAL is simply an increasing scale of established security standards for software or hardware products.
While all of this constitutes a highly secure design, the wallet still has to be connected to the internet to function, which can provide a possible attack vector for very sophisticated attackers. For those seeking the highest possible level of security, there are other lesser-known hardware wallets such as the ColdCard wallet by Coinkite that can store private keys without having to ever be connected to the internet. Paper wallets also work this way.
In some ways, using any crypto wallet is still more secure than holding fiat currency in a bank. Bank deposits are legally property of the bank. Fractional reserve banking also means that the banks don’t have most of everyone’s money. If everyone comes to demand their deposits at once, a bank could fail.
The key to remember is that holding the private keys to a personal crypto wallet puts 100% of the responsibility on the owner. Most related problems occur as a result of human error, not hackers or faulty hardware. That risk is the tradeoff that comes with becoming your own bank.
Be sure to keep your PIN and backup seed phrase somewhere safe. If you forget both of these, there will be no way to recover your funds.
Overall, most people find the Ledger Nano S to be a good wallet although the reviews tend to be polarized, with people either rating one-star because something they didn’t expect happened, or people rating the wallet five-stars for doing everything as advertised.
Some complaints include poor compatibility with the Ledger Live app and some Windows devices and users didn’t know they could only manage three cryptocurrencies at once. Additionally, getting started requires visiting start.ledgerwallet.com, a site that doesn’t allow visitors using proxies or VPNs, and customer support could take up to two weeks or more to respond to issues for some users.
Ledger Nano S vs. X
The Ledger Nano S and Nano X are similar in many ways. The Nano X has added Bluetooth capability, a mobile app, a larger screen, and support for up to 100 cryptocurrencies at once. Other than those features, the wallet is more or less identical to the Nano S.
|Ledger Nano S||Ledger Nano X|
|Type of Wallet||Hardware (cold storage)||Hardware (cold storage)|
|Currencies||3 at a time||100 at a time|
|Device Size||56.95mm × 17.4mm × 9.1mm||72mm × 18.6mm × 11.75mm|
Ledger Nanon S vs. Trezor
The Trezor has a larger display which is also a touch screen. Some users may find this a simpler design than having to use buttons on the Nano S along with the Ledger Live app. The two wallets are similar in price range and functionality but differ in terms of design and user experience.
|Ledger Nano S||Trezor One|
|Type of Wallet||Hardware (cold storage)||Hardware (cold storage)|
|Device Size||56.95mm × 17.4mm × 9.1mm||64mm x 39mm x 10mm|
The Ledger Nano S is compact, secure, and relatively easy to use. It supports three cryptocurrencies at a time and is affordable and easy to purchase, although there might be a small amount of hidden or additional costs.
The Nano S is best known for being a safe way to store crypto in cold storage. The Ledger Live app does allow for trading of many cryptocurrencies, but doing so might be more of a hassle than just using an exchange. The wallet could work well as an introduction to the world of hardware wallets for the average crypto enthusiast.
The Nano S could be good for those looking to lock away large amounts of a few cryptocurrencies without the intention of trading them often.
When reviewing the Ledger Nano S, we looked at features like security, price, ease of use, currencies supported, and device features. We also considered what type of user the wallet might be best for.
The Ledger Nano S has high security standards and is simple enough to use for most beginners. Some users complain about things like not being able to use more than three cryptocurrencies at a time, so this is something that should be considered. The Nano S is among the most affordable wallets of its kind and anyone looking to get started with hardware wallets would do well to consider it as a first choice.
Privacypros.io. "Ledger Nano S and Nano X Supported Coins and Cryptocurrencies." Accessed June 24th, 2021
Nerdschalk.com. "Trezor vs Ledger." Accessed June 24th, 2021