Explore a detailed comparison of Blockstream Jade and Coldcard wallets, focusing on security, user experience, and more.
For peace of mind and actual security it's essential to store your Bitcoin in a way that you're comfortable with, and that isn’t vulnerable to being hacked. In this post I'm going to compare two well-known hardware wallets to help you make an informed choice between the Jade Wallet from Blockstream and the Coldcard MK4. Your decision will ultimately come down to your preferences, but I’ll lay out all the considerations here.
Blockstream’s Jade has a very intuitive design. It’s small, measuring only 60 x 24 x 17 mm with a 1.14inch IPS LCD display, but it has a clear and vivid interface.
The wallet was clearly built with user convenience in mind, it has a QR reader which allows for completely air-gapped transactions. In essence, doing away with the requirement for USB or Bluetooth connections. If you want to create a multisig wallet, you can use your Jade wallet as one of the signatures, and then utilize a desktop wallet such Specter, Nunchuk, Electrum, Blue wallet or others.
Jade is a fully offline, cold storage device and your wallet (or seed phrase) never leaves your hardware wallet. Blockstream’s Jade has a unique method of using a blind oracle to encrypt your wallet’s recovery phrase. Its approach is fully open source & verifiable, striking a balance between high level security and complete transparency.
Blockstream’s Jade is a very affordable wallet, priced at $64.99, this is cheaper than Coldcard and most of the hardware wallets available on the market, so when you combine it with its open-source security and it’s simple user interface, it’s an attractive option for Bitcoiner who just want something simple and easy to use.
The Coldcard looks like a calculator, and it’s been designed with security as its priority. The idea isn’t for this wallet to be ‘pretty’ it’s for it to be effective.
Coldcard is straightforward to use, with a basic screen and buttons for navigation. Coldcard will generate your seed phrase words when you first begin, but you also have the option to introduce some of your own randomness if you don’t trust Coldcard’s True Random Number Generator (TRNG). In my opinion, unless you really know what you’re doing you are probably better off using Coldcard’s default random number generator because generating randomness can be difficult.
The security model of Coldcard is highly regarded. Coldcard’s MK4 uses several advanced security features, including a secure element for your private keys, a pin code system and the ability to operate in a completely air-gapped environment. In combination these features provide comprehensive security.
The Coldcard Mk4 is currently available for purchase at a price of $157.94. This price is consistent across various color options including Pink, Blue, Orange, Green, Purple, Black, Red, and a special Glow-In-The-Dark version. Additionally, there's a unique "Gold Mk4" edition, priced the same, which offers a distinct aesthetic. For those interested in multiple units, there are bundle options available at different price points, such as the "Mk4 Colours plus Clear" bundle for $849.99 and the "Newer Mk4 Colours plus Clear" bundle for $569.69.
The general consensus is that Blockstream Jade offers a good balance of security, functionality, and user-friendliness, making it a suitable choice for both beginners and experienced users.
Apollo Users Ilikeponies summed it up in his review
“If you are not good with Bitcoin, cool, make a wallet on Jade and store it away. If you are good with Bitcoin, cool, choose your own adventure on how to use Jade. Whether that is totally air gapped transactions, creating multisig wallets, QR support, stateless device, BIP85, importing a wallet, or mining with the device (ha). Really the only thing this wallet can not do is Miniscript functionalities.”
Coldcard’s Mk4 highly rated (4.6/5.0 based on 48 reviews) and is recognized for its dual secure element, verifiable source code, and true air-gap functionality. The wallet's design is compact and includes a numeric keypad and OLED screen, enhancing usability.
Users have highlighted its security measures, like the dual secure element and anti-phishing words, as standout features. The air-gap functionality, allowing the device to operate without connecting to a potentially compromised computer, is particularly appreciated by those prioritizing security.
However, some reviews indicate that the Coldcard Mk4 might be less user-friendly, especially for those who are not technically inclined. It requires a deeper technical understanding and is more suited for users who prioritize security over convenience. Despite its higher price point and learning curve, it's considered a top choice for serious Bitcoin users who value robust security measures.
Apollo user NoAlpha’s Coldcard review says it best “If all you care about is getting your coins into the deepest darkest cold storage then you need to go with coldcard. Opensource, airgapped, super secure etc etc…”
Some users have also criticized the Coldcard for not being technically ‘open-source’.
Blockstream Jade is an open-source hardware wallet, allowing the community to audit and verify the device’s code. Coldcard offers verifiable source code i.e. anybody can audit the code, but it doesn’t operate under a free and open source license. The distinction being, that other companies are not to build products off the back of Coldcard code. Some have argued that this means there will be relatively less security testing on Coldcard, because of different incentives.
In summary, both wallets cater to different user needs: Blockstream Jade for its versatility and user-friendliness, and Coldcard Mk4 for its uncompromising security and Bitcoin-focused features. Users should choose based on their priorities, whether it's price, ease of use, open-source support, or the highest level of security for their Bitcoin.
Design: Blockstream Jade is known for its compact, robust design with a large color display, while Coldcard features a numeric keypad and OLED screen.
User Interface and Experience: Jade generally offers a more user-friendly experience, suitable for both beginners and experienced users, with features like Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Coldcard, on the other hand, is less intuitive and more suited for users with a technical background, focusing on advanced security features.
Security Features: Both hardware wallets have strong security features, but they take different approaches. Blockstream’s jade uses a blind oracle approach to encryption while Coldcard uses a secure element. The code in both wallets is publicly available for anybody to verify for themselves.
Coldcard is generally considered to have best in class security features, with its dual secure element, anti-phishing words, and air-gap functionality providing an extra layer of security.
However, Blockstream’s fully open-source oracle encryption process will do the job for you.
Both wallets provide the option for a multi-sig wallet, which is the highest form of security for your Bitcoin.
Blockstream Jade is compatible with Android devices through the Blockstream Green app, with plans to support other operating systems like iOS. Coldcard's primary method of operation is as a standalone device, but it can be used with compatible wallet software on mobile devices.