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Tangem vs Ledger: Which one is better? – Explained by a Hardware Wallet Nerd

In this article, I’m going to reveal the insights I’ve gathered from analyzing two popular hardware wallets: Tangum and Ledger. As we dig into the various aspects of both wallets, we will cover key differences such as security, user experience, and coin support.

Starting off with the unboxing, I must say that Tangum’s packaging is minimalistic. The box includes the wallet cards, and since Tangum operates without a traditional seed phrase or battery, that’s all you need to start. On the other hand, Ledger’s package feels a bit more premium, containing the device with a metallic cover, a keychain, and a high-quality cable needed for its operation.

Key Takeaways

  • Both wallets offer robust security, but operational philosophies differ.
  • Trust in the brand and diversification of wallets is advisable for crypto security.
UnboxingMinimalist kitPremium package with extra accessories
SecurityIP68 protectionCertified secure chip, BOLOS OS
User ExperienceNo seed phrase, mobile-onlySeed phrase required, desktop and mobile
DurabilityResistant to extreme conditionsSensitive electronic components
Trust and SupportIndependent security auditsLong-standing reputation, extra services


What’s in Tangum’s Box

Upon opening the solid black container safeguarded by a security seal, I found the essence of the Tangum wallet – the cards. Depending upon your purchase, the set includes either two or three cards. Accompanying the cards was some essential literature. Remarkably, since Tangum doesn’t rely on a seed phrase and lacks an internal battery, no additional accessories are necessary. The package is refreshingly simplistic, embracing minimalistic principles.

Ledger’s Encased Treasures

The Ledger arrives in an elegant package, revealing a plastic device sheathed by a metallic cover. Inside, I discovered:

  • A tiny folder housing recovery sheets for jotting down the 24-word seed phrase
  • A keychain strap to transform Ledger into a portable accessory
  • A high-quality USB-A to USB-C cable, indispensable for device connectivity and setup

While the Ledger’s presentation certainly has an appealing aesthetic, it is crucial to have the included cable since the wallet pairs with desktops and Android devices alike. In contrast, Tangum operates solely with mobile devices. Interestingly, Tangum’s approach allows for a bare-bones package as it functions without these additional connection requirements.

Comparison Between Tangum and Ledger Devices

In exploring the differences between Tangum and Ledger wallets, I discovered some noteworthy aspects. Let’s begin with what each package offers when you open it up.

Tangum arrives in a sturdy black box sealed for security. Inside, you’ll find the Tangum cards – two or three depending on your purchase choice. Also included is some documentation, and that’s pretty much it for Tangum. Its no-battery, no-seed-phrase system makes for a minimalist setup.

On to Ledger’s package, which presents itself a bit more extravagantly. The main component is the device, a plastic body with a metallic sheath. It also comes with a small booklet for your 24-word recovery phrase, a keychain attachment, and a high-quality USB-A to USB-C cable crucial for device connections given Ledger’s compatibility with desktop and Android via cable. Tangum, in contrast, pairs only with mobile devices.

Contents of Packaging:

  • Tangum:
    • Security-sealed black box
    • Tangum cards
    • Instructional paperwork
  • Ledger:
    • Fashionable packaging
    • Ledger device
    • Recovery phrase booklet
    • Keychain strap
    • USB-A to USB-C cable

Durability Features:

  • Tangum:
    • IP68-standard protection against dust, water, and high temperatures
    • X-ray, electromagnetic pulse, and electrostatic discharge resistant
    • Guaranteed 25-year functionality
  • Ledger:
    • Sensitive internal electronics
    • Not waterproof; moisture-sensitive
    • Resilient to x-rays and electromagnetic fields

Now let’s examine their durability. My findings show that Tangum cards are impressively durable. They meet IP68 standards making them highly resistant to elements like dust, water, and extreme temperatures. In fact, these cards can even be stored in a freezer without harm. Moreover, Tangum is built to stand up to x-rays, electromagnetic pulses, and electrostatic discharge, ensuring peace of mind when passing through airport security.

Ledger’s design resembles a USB stick and includes delicate electronic parts, meaning it doesn’t share Tangum’s robust resistance to water. As a precaution, I keep my wallets in airtight bags.

Security Measures:

  • Both devices feature a security chip certified to the CC EAL5+ standard.
  • Tangum:
    • Chip and NFC antenna design making it incredibly resilient
    • Chip from Samsung, with proprietary security software
    • Encrypted offline storage with no possibility for private key export
    • Transaction requires physical card and phone proximity
  • Ledger:
    • Chip from STMicroelectronics, powered by its BOLOS OS
    • OS creates a secure barrier around the private key
    • Private key isolated in offline environment
    • Open for independent security audits

In terms of security, it’s interesting to compare the two. Both devices indulge in advanced security with certified chips used in sensitive applications like passports and bank cards. Tangum uses Samsung’s chip, while Ledger opts for STMicroelectronics’. Each brand has had its chip software independently reviewed, though neither is fully open-source, making definitive safety comparisons difficult.

With Ledger, the focus is on its operating system named BOLOS, which carefully guards wallet access. The software insists on explicit user approval via button press for any wallet action, and installed apps on Ledger are confined to their allocated memory spaces, with the private key nestled securely offline.

For transactions, Tangum operates differently, using NFC to communicate with a phone, requiring the card’s physical presence. This setup rules out the option to install separate cryptocurrency applications.

Setup Differences:

  • Ledger:
    • Implements a 24-word seed phrase
    • Seed phrase generated on the device and never exposed online
    • Recovery feature raises questions about potential seed phrase leakage
  • Tangum:
    • Multiple setup options, preferred method omits seed phrase
    • Private keys generated and cloned across backup cards using the Diffie-Hellman key exchange protocol
    • Cards encrypted and protected with an access code

Addressing the setup process, Ledger generates a 24-word seed phrase, directly on the device itself, unseen by the online realm, ensuring the user’s exclusive ownership. However, the Ledger recovery service, allowing encrypted seed phrase storage with third parties, has invited some skepticism within the community.

I choose to handle things differently. Tangum’s preferred setup circumvents the generation of a seed phrase entirely, deploying the sturdy Diffie-Hellman protocol to distribute encrypted private keys across backup cards. This method negates seed phrase knowledge, deemed by Tangum as a security strength. Each card is accessible only with a correct code, preventing unauthorized use even if a card is entrusted to someone else for safekeeping.

Assessing Wallet Build Strength

Sturdiness of Tangum Cards

I’ve noticed that my Tangum cards boast impressive durability thanks to their IP68 standard rating. This means they are dustproof, waterproof, and able to withstand high temperatures. I can comfortably leave my backup cards anywhere, even in frosty conditions like a freezer, and they’ll remain intact. In addition, these cards are built to resist X-rays, electromagnetic pulses, and electrostatic discharge, so traveling through airport security with them is no concern at all. Tangum ensures the cards have a minimum life span of 25 years, which speaks volumes about their robustness.

Sensitivity of Ledger Devices

Ledger devices have a design akin to a USB stick containing delicate electronic parts which inherently makes them less impervious to the elements. For instance, exposure to water or moisture could be detrimental to a Ledger wallet. I make a point of storing my wallets in sealed bags as a precaution. However, just like my Tangum, I can pass through airport security with my Ledger without fretting over potential X-ray or electromagnetic damage.

In terms of internal resilience, both Ledger and Tangum offer security chips with EAL5+ certification, which is a testament to their commitment to security. Ledger’s chip hails from STMicroelectronics and runs on a unique operating system that shields the wallet’s key contents until I personally authorize any transaction.

Tangum, while not brandishing grandiose terms for its chip’s software, operates on equally secure principles. The main distinction lies in its approach to applications and updates. Since Tangum avails offline storage without the need for device connections or updates, its private keys are effectively locked in, making external access nearly impossible.

Finally, I’d like to touch on the software aspect. It’s worth noting that neither software from Tangum nor Ledger is open source, but both have undergone third-party security audits to ensure their integrity, providing a layer of trust for users like myself.

Enhanced Security Elements and Their Operating Mechanisms

Tangum’s Enhanced Protection Element

I’m thrilled to discuss the security elements in my Tangum cards. Without relying on a traditional seed phrase, I’m able to use them. Included in the package is a set of two or three cards, enveloped in a sturdy black box with a security seal. My cards are straightforward to use as there’s no need for a battery, and they make for a minimalistic kit.

Ledger’s Proprietary BOLOS Framework

When it comes to Ledger, I’m proud of our unique operating system known as BOLOS. This system ensures that the private key never interacts with the online world, offering a secure shell around it. It’s designed so that any installed applications can only access their specified memory spaces which bolsters security significantly.

Transparency and Independent Reviews

While neither company offers open-source code for their chip software, we have both undergone independent security audits. My Tangum cards were scrutinized by companies like Kudelski Security and Riscure. Similarly, Ledger has had separate applications audited by firms such as IOT and QuarksLab. We strive for transparency and trust through these third-party evaluations.

Securing Your Crypto Assets: Keys and Recovery Protocols

How Ledger Generates Recovery Sentences

When I set up a new Ledger wallet, I jot down a sequence of 24 words. These words are specially created by the device and displayed on its screen, ensuring they stay offline.

It’s crucial for me to keep this sequence safe as it’s the master key to my wallet. Ledger even introduced a service called Ledger Recovery. For a monthly fee, they allow me to encrypt and split this phrase into parts for storage with security companies, providing peace of mind in case I need to recover my assets.

  • Generating the Seed Phrase:
    • Creation of a 24-word sequence.
    • Sequence displayed only on Ledger’s screen.
  • Ledger Recovery Feature:
    • Seed phrase encryption and division into parts.
    • Storage with security firms for a fee.
  • Paper Storage:
    • Manual transcription necessary.
    • Secure physical storage advised.

My Approach to Private Key Generation with Tangem

During the Tangem setup, my preferred choice is to generate private keys without a visible seed phrase. I simply tap the card to my phone to initiate key generation via an inbuilt random number generator. I can then replicate these keys onto backup cards, each secured by a personal access code.

What sets this apart is the absence of a recovery phrase. This method relies on encrypted backup cards—essentially a set of clones—which I find to be a secure way to manage my cryptocurrency without the risk of a seed phrase being compromised.

  • Initial Key Creation:
    • Use of phone NFC and inbuilt random number generator.
    • No visible seed phrase during setup.
  • Backup Card Cloning:
    • Duplication using the Diffie-Hellman key exchange.
    • Encrypted and code-protected backup cards.
  • Maintenance of Security:
    • Distribution of backups to trusted individuals.
    • Complete encryption removes the need for a recovery phrase.

Building Credibility and Asset Allocation Across Different Wallets

When it comes to the topic of cryptocurrency storage, I often hear people ask me why I chose Ledger as my hardware wallet over Tangem, particularly considering the unique features each offers. Let’s discuss this by comparing aspects like security and user interface, as well as the specific use cases where each wallet excels.

When I unboxed my Tangem wallet, it presented itself in a sleek black box sealed for security. The contents were simple: one to three Tangem cards based on the package, with the necessary documents—nothing more. Tangem’s minimalistic approach is due to its lack of a need for a seed phrase and absence of a battery, making it quite straightforward to use with just your mobile device.

Contents of Ledger, on the other hand, took a step up in presentation. The package included the Ledger device with a metallic cover, a folder for the recovery sheets (where the 24-word seed phrase is recorded), a keychain strap, and importantly, a USB-A to USB-C cable, essential for connecting the device for setup and use, particularly with desktops and Android devices.

An exciting opportunity I shared with my viewers was a giveaway for a brand-new Tangem wallet. By subscribing and commenting on their preferred wallet and reason, my subscribers could participate and possibly win once the channel reached 2,000 subscribers.

Durability is a key concern for many of us. The Tangem cards boast an IP68 rating, signifying their resistance to elements like water, dust, and extreme temperatures. Even behind the ice cubes in your freezer, Tangem cards will remain intact, shielded against X-rays, electromagnetic pulses, and electrostatic discharge—making traveling with them worry-free.

Ledger resembles a USB stick with its more sensitive internal electronic components; unlike Tangem, it is not waterproof. So, extra caution around water is advisable—I personally use ziplock bags for storage as a precaution.

Both the Tangem and Ledger devices come equipped with a security chip certified to CC EAL5+ standards, denoting high security. The Tangem chip is from Samsung, while Ledger uses STMicroelectronics—a trusted name in various secure applications.

But let’s talk about Ledger’s operating system: BOLOS. This OS ensures actions are confirmed by physical button presses and manages applications within their own memory spaces, with the private key securely stored offline. Whereas Tangem, while also secure and operating on a proprietary platform, functions with different principles. It doesn’t require application installation or updates, and the private key cannot be exported, reinforcing its role as an offline storage medium.

For further transparency and trust-building, Tangem had their security audited by Kelki Security and Riscure, with Ledger following a similar approach by working with independent auditors like IOT and Quarkslab on a per-application basis.

The most crucial element in hardware wallet security is not in the hardware alone—it’s the setup process. With Ledger, during setup, the 24-word seed phrase is generated directly on the device, never leaving its offline environment, ensuring that the owner has sole access to the wallet.

However, Ledger’s recovery feature, which introduces an encrypted and distributable version of the seed phrase, has sparked debate. Although I have confidence in Ledger’s security practices due to their long-standing hack-free history, I also recommend diversifying by using multiple hardware wallet brands just to hedge against potential risks—a prudent strategy akin to not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Tangem approached setup uniquely, offering three methods but emphasizing one that doesn’t involve generating a seed phrase. Private keys are created via a hardware random number generator, then cloned onto backup cards through the Diffie-Hellman key exchange protocol—a secure method in cryptography for nearly half a century. The inherent benefit here is that the seed phrase, unknown to even the owner, isn’t exploitable since it exists only encrypted on the cards, which can also be shared for safekeeping, provided the access code is kept confidential.

In summary, it’s all about what aligns with your trust and security preferences. Some may opt for the word-based security of Ledger, while others might prefer the backup card methodology of Tangem. The choice is deeply personal and should reflect your own comfort level with the technology and security measures of each option.

Establishing Your Wallet and Alternative Recovery Methods

Ledger’s Backup Solution

As I began using my Ledger hardware wallet, I found a helpful feature that attests to the need for alternative recovery methods. My device prompted me to jot down a 24-word recovery phrase. Ledger understands that storing these words is crucial, as they serve as the last line of defense for accessing my funds if my device is misplaced.

The unique aspect of Ledger is its addition of a service named Ledger Recovery. For a monthly fee, they offer to safeguard my 24-word phrase encrypted into thirds with third-parties, after I’ve completed a know-your-customer process and provided consent.

Despite some skepticism from users, my trust remains due to Ledger’s hack-free history since its inception in 2014, giving me confidence in their security. However, I also appreciate the wisdom in not relying solely on one company for my cryptocurrency safety.

Tangem’s non-Seed Phrase Configuration

Venturing into Tangem’s setup process, I found myself exposed to a novel approach that excludes the creation of a seed phrase altogether. Initially, I was uncertain about this unconventional method, but the convenience and security it proposed seemed promising.

During the activation, a tap of the card on my phone generates private keys via an internal hardware random number generator. These keys are then replicated to additional backup cards through a secure cryptographic protocol known as the Diffie-Hellman key exchange, a well-established method in the field. Tangem’s stance is that by maintaining your private key solely on the card, shielded by a PIN code, it negates the risk of someone else discovering a seed phrase.

I have the option of keeping a backup card with someone I trust, rendering it inoperable without the necessary access code. This strategy aligns with their belief that it’s safer than traditional recovery phrases.

Personal Insights on Tangum and Ledger Wallets

When exploring hardware wallets, you might wonder why someone would choose a Tangum over a Ledger. I found this question intriguing and decided to investigate the specifics of each wallet’s offering including security, user experience, and coin support.

Upon unboxing the Tangum, I noticed its packaging is straightforward—a solid black box sealed for security. Inside, you find the Tangum cards, which could be two or three based on the selected package, along with some basic documentation. The absence of a battery or a seed phrase requirement means you get a very streamlined experience with Tangum.

On the other hand, Ledger provides a more elaborate unboxing experience. The wallet comes with a plastic device outfitted with a metallic cover. The box contains recovery sheets for the seed phrase, a keychain strap to hang the wallet, and a high-quality USB-A to USB-C cable essential for desktop or Android connections. While Ledger’s packaging might be more appealing, remember that the cable is necessary due to its connectivity options.

Tangum is committed to durability, which is why their cards are IP68 rated to withstand dust, water, and extreme temperatures. This assurance means you can practically store your backup cards anywhere—even frozen amongst ice cubes. I find it comforting that Tangum cards are also resistant to x-rays and electrostatic discharges, which aligns with their promise of a 25-year lifespan.

Conversely, Ledger’s USB-like design houses sensitive components making it less robust to elements like water. I take extra precautions by storing all my wallets in sealable bags even though Ledger is also certified to the stringent CC EAL5+ security standard, just like Tangum.

Both Tangum and Ledger integrate state-of-the-art security chips from reputable firms—Samsung and STMicroelectronics, respectively. Ledger’s internal structure is safeguarded by its BOLOS operating system which prevents unauthorized access unless a physical confirmation is given. Tangum’s approach is more simplistic, as it does not facilitate updates or application installations, enhancing security by limiting external interactions.

Open-source software is not featured in either of these wallets. However, extensive independent security audits provide some peace of mind. I take note that while it’s difficult to measure which wallet is inherently safer, the decision often comes down to personal trust in a brand.

A critical consideration is the treatment of your private keys and seed phrases. Ledger adopts the traditional seed phrase strategy where 24 words are generated on the device. These words stay offline, ensuring that only you have access to your wallet. However, the introduction of Ledger’s recovery service, which involves storing an encrypted seed phrase with third parties, has prompted questions regarding the firm’s earlier assurances of security.

In contrast, Tangum offers a setup that bypasses seed phrase generation. Private keys are created and cloned onto backup cards in encrypted form, making it impossible for someone to usurp your funds without the necessary access code. I value that this design minimizes the exploitability of seed phrases.

Ultimately, each wallet has merits depending on your personal security preferences. While diversifying across different hardware wallets is wise, Tangum’s distinct approach to key management could be more secure for those wary of written seed phrases. It seems prudent to consider a variety of secure storage options for one’s digital assets.

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