Assuming that you’ve recently bought a sizeable quantity of bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, you may find yourself in a position where you want to transfer your funds to a secure crypto wallet. The safest way of doing this is to invest in a hardware wallet, and arguably the best such wallets are made by French manufacturer Ledger. You may notice that Ledger offers two hardware wallets, though: The Ledger Nano S and the Ledger Nano X. Which one is best?
In this article, we answer this question, comparing the Ledger Nano S and X. We highlight the main differences between the two and explain the rationale for choosing one over the other. This should help you decide which is the right device for you.
Performance and functionality
Aside from the fact that the Ledger Nano X is roughly double the price of the S ($120 vs. $60), there are two main differences between the devices.
The first is that the Ledger Nano S supports up to 20 apps, while the Nano X supports up to 100. By “app,” we mean the software needed to receive and send any given cryptocurrency. If you want to store Bitcoin, you’ll need to download the Bitcoin app onto your Ledger. If you want to store Ethereum, you’ll need to download the Ethereum app, and so on.
This means that, if the only cryptocurrency you own (and intend to own) is bitcoin, you can get by with the Ledger Nano S.
The other difference between the two is that the Ledger Nano X supports Bluetooth, while the S does not.
Because it supports a Bluetooth connection, you can connect and use the Ledger Nano X with Ledger’s smartphone app (Ledger Live). In other words, you can send Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies using the Nano X while on the go. By contrast, with the Nano S, you have to connect the wallet directly to your computer to use it, by using the supplied Micro-B USB cable (the X comes with its own USB C-cable for its wired connection option).
If you’re someone who travels — and trades crypto — often, this connectivity is likely to be very important. However, if you’ve bought only one or two cryptocurrencies and intend to hold onto them for the long term, the Ledger Nano S should suffice.
The Ledger Nano S and X are largely identical from a security standpoint. While the X uses the newer ST33 secure element and the S uses the ST31, both chips have been independently certified by the ANSSI (the French National Cybersecurity Agency). As such, they’re both more or less as secure as each other, so you needn’t think that you’re somehow skimping on safety by opting for the cheaper Nano S.
It’s also worth pointing out that, with both the Ledger Nano S and X, only public data is communicated to your computer or smartphone. The private keys controlling your cryptocurrencies are never transmitted by either device, and neither is the seed phrase you can use to restore your device in the event of damage, destruction, or loss. This is good to know, particularly with the Ledger Nano X, which can use Bluetooth to communicate with your smartphone.
Design and display
As with performance, the Ledger Nano S and X are mostly similar when it comes to their designs, with both devices featuring a stainless steel case that can be pivoted to reveal the black plastic wallet underneath. The Nano S is a little smaller, measuring at 57 x 17.4 x 9.1 mm, while the X comes in at 72 x 18.6 x 11.75 mm. This means that the X is about 26% taller, 7% wider, and 29% thicker. It’s also roughly twice as heavy, at 34g versus 16.2g (about 1.1 oz and 0.56 oz). However, it’s still pretty light and easy to handle, so you’ll hardly notice any difference in practice.
The Nano X also looks fractionally more refined. The S comes with two small buttons that protrude out slightly from its side, and which are used to scroll through options and confirm actions (with a simultaneous press of both). By contrast, the X’s flat circular buttons are placed more discreetly on either side of its screen. They’re flush against the face of the wallet, so they don’t stick out like the S’s.
The Nano X also boasts a higher resolution screen, not that you’ll be watching videos or looking at photos on it. It packs 128 x 64 pixels, whereas the S offers only 128 x 32.
Holders vs. traders
Ultimately, the question of whether to buy a Ledger Nano S or a Ledger Nano X comes down to how many cryptocurrencies you hold and how often you trade. If you own only one or two and don’t plan on trading them frequently, then the Ledger Nano S is probably your best bet. Conversely, if you hold multiple cryptocurrencies (particularly if you hold 20 or more), and if you want the ability to send crypto while on the move, then the Ledger Nano X is the better choice.
These differences aside, both devices remain highly secure hardware wallets. If you’re planning on holding a significant quantity of crypto for the medium- or long-term, either one is a must.