Trezor Model One review — is it one of the best crypto wallets?

Trezor Model One is an oldie, but a goodie

Trezor Model One
(Image: © Future)

Laptop Mag Verdict

The Trezor Model One is ideal for blue-chip crypto investors seeking a simple, clean, minimalist experience, however, it may not be suitable for crypto holders with a varied arsenal of digital assets.

Pros

  • +

    Ultra-smooth setup

  • +

    Accepts 1,000+ cryptocurrencies

  • +

    Clean, simple companion app

  • +

    Supports image uploads for home screen

  • +

    Spotless security reputation

Cons

  • -

    Not compatible with iOS/Chrome OS

  • -

    Cheap build quality

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Trezor Model One specs

Price: $77
CPU: 120-MHz Cortex M3 ARM CPU
USB Type: USB-A to micro-USB cable
Desktop: Windows, macOS, Linux
Mobile: Android only
Screen: 128 x 64 pixels
Battery: N/A
Size: 2.4in x 1.2in x 0.2 inches
Weight: 0.42 ounces

Colors: Black, White

The Trezor Model One, launched in 2014, is the ultimate OG in the crypto hardware wallet space. If the USB-like device were personified, it’d be the old man on the block who walks with a slight limp and wears dated clothes, but he still charms the ladies and says, “Ha! I still got it!” 

Some of you may be thinking, “Yikes! The Trezor Model One is nearly eight years old?! Can it keep up with the fast-moving evolution of the crypto world?”

That, dear reader, is the question that plagued me, too. As such, I set out to find a satisfying answer to this inquiry by spending a week with the Trezor Model One. I transferred cryptocurrencies to and from the crypto wallet, tinkered with the Trezor Suite companion app, connected it to my Metamask wallet, and more — all to determine whether the Trezor Model One still has “it.”

After all, the $77 Trezor Model One has some fierce competition, particularly the $79 Ledger Nano S Plus. Launched this year, it’s newer, shinier, and more “hip” — the part of the body the ancient Trezor Model One worries it might break. However, despite the Model One’s grandpa-esque status in the crypto-wallet market, it has one major selling point that may win crypto investors’ over. 

Trezor Model One price and availability 

 As mentioned, if you want to own the Trezor Model One, you’ll have to fork over $77. Is that expensive for a slab of plastic running a rudimentary OS? Yes — yes, it is. However, as I mentioned with the Nano S Plus (which I also believe is overpriced), you’re thinking about this all wrong. 

Trezor Model One

Trezor Model One (Image credit: Future)

Instead of frowning about paying nearly $80 for a cheap USB-like device, smile about how you’re spending only $77 for a lifetime of security for your most treasured device. Many crypto investors who were hacked wished they could turn back time, pony up that $80 to safeguard their crypto, and keep their precious digital assets from malicious actors.

The Trezor Model One is packed with a 120-MHz ARM CPU (Cortex M3) and a bright 128 x 64-pixel OLED panel that can display six lines of text. It comes in white and black models, but if those colors are too drab for you, you can snag a silicon case that comes in a myriad of hues, including Raspberry Red, Traffic Green, Pink, Pigeon Blue, Mint and Cobalt Blue.

You can purchase the Model One on Trezor’s official website or Amazon (opens in new tab).

Trezor Model One design 

One thing that grinds my gears about the Trezor Model One is that it’s made out of cheap plastic. For nearly $80, Trezor could have invested in a higher quality material. Sure, the Trezor Model One can protect your cryptocurrencies from online perils, but there are real-life disasters that can endanger your device, too.

Trezor Model One

Trezor Model One (Image credit: Future)

If your dog chews on this thing, it will crack under pressure in two seconds. If a house fire occurs, the Model One will melt quicker than a block of ice. Just shaking this device, I can hear components rattling inside. Why didn’t SatoshiLabs, the company behind the Model One, mold the hardware wallet out of titanium? Its competitor, the Ledger Nano S Plus, isn’t made of titanium either, but it has a sturdier aluminum-clad body. 

Don’t worry, though. If something does happen to your Model One, it’s not the end of the world — you can always buy a new one. You just need to have your seed phrase (a series of words that lets you restore your crypto data on a new device), which you’ll receive during setup.

On the plus side, my all-black Trezor crypto wallet has a charming shape. If a 12th-century knight stumbled onto a Trezor Model One, he’d angrily yell, “Hey! Who shrunk my shield?!” Thanks to a quick Google search, I discovered that “heater-shaped shield” best describes the Model One’s peculiar shape. On the front of the Model One, you’ll find a 128 x 68-pixel display; underneath it are two buttons for navigation.

Lastly, the Model One is as light as a feather — lighter than any crypto wallet I’ve ever tested. It’s only 0.42 ounces.

Trezor Model One ports 

The Trezor Model One only has one micro USB port and it comes with a USB-A to micro-USB cable, which makes steam come out of my ears. Why? It’s too damn short! It’s only 11 inches long, so using the Model One with my HP Envy 13 x360 felt unnatural and uncomfortable.

Trezor Model One

Trezor Model One (Image credit: Future)

I usually like to sit back in my chair while using my crypto wallets, but I had to hunch up closer to my laptop to utilize the Model One because the cable is vertically challenged. I’d recommend getting a longer micro USB cable (opens in new tab) for less than $9. This is another case of the Trezor showing its age as the Ledger Nano S Plus features a USB-C port. 

Trezor Model One setup 

The best aspect of the Trezor Model One is its setup. It’s relatively quick and smooth sailing, especially compared to Ledger. Setting up a Nano crypto wallet typically takes 30 minutes — you’re prompted to take a quiz, validate your seed phrase with an ultra-lengthy process, and go through a device check to ensure your wallet is genuine.

Trezor Suite app

Trezor Suite app (Image credit: Future)

While Ledger’s grueling setup process is put in place to protect the consumer, I prefer the zippier Trezor method. It took me less than 15 minutes to get the wallet ready for usage.

First, I visited https://trezor.io/start, which commanded me to download the Trezor Suite (the companion app) and plug my Model One into my laptop. I was then prompted to install the latest firmware.

Next, the Model One generated a seed phrase of 24 words, which I had to write down. My only gripe is that Trezor really needs to emphasize how important it is for users to save their seed phrase. Lazy newcomers may wave away the “write down your seed phrase!” request without realizing that their digital assets will be inaccessible if they lose this 24-word passcode.

Trezor Suite app

Trezor Suite app (Image credit: Future)

I was also asked to set up a PIN. After inputting a four-character PIN, I was greeted with a message telling me that my Model One is ready. Woo-hoo! It was that simple. 

Trezor Model One companion app 

The best way to accurately judge Trezor Suite, the Model One’s companion desktop app, is to compare it to Ledger Live (the companion app for the Ledger Nano series). Right off the bat, I noticed that you can’t access Trezor Suite without connecting the Model One first. Ledger Live, on the other hand, is accessible with or without the hardware wallet.

Trezor Suite is simple and minimalist. It only has two tabs: Dashboard and Accounts. The former displays the value of your crypto holdings; there’s also a “Receive” button that lets you transfer digital assets to the wallet. The latter shows which “crypto folders,” so to speak, you’ve installed. At setup, I was asked which crypto folders I wanted to add to Trezor Suite; I selected Bitcoin and Dogecoin. Consequently, I saw them in my “Accounts” tab. 

One thing I adore about the Trezor Model One is that, unlike the Ledger Nano series, you don’t have to worry about storage space and whether it can hold the “crypto folders” you need. On the Model One, the folders are not installed on the cold wallet; they’re hosted on Trezor Suite. As such, you can install as many crypto folders as you want, whether it’s Bitcoin, Ethereum or Dogecoin. 

Trezor Suite app

Trezor Suite app (Image credit: Future)

However, the Trezor Suite lacks many awesome features Ledger Live has. For example, on Ledger Live, you can see your NFT artworks via the Rainbow.me app. You can’t do the same with the Trezor Suite. Also, the Ledger Live app has a staking feature, which lets users collect interest on their digital assets — the Trezor Suite has no such capability. Finally, I discovered that the Model One doesn’t support XRP nor Cardano, which is disappointing because I own both tokens.

To close this section out with some positivity, one noteworthy Model One perk is that it lets users upload photos to the device’s home screen. Following the requirements, I grabbed a selfie, reduced it to 128 x 64 pixels, and transformed it to black and white. 

Trezor Model One

Trezor Model One (Image credit: Future)

I uploaded the photo to the Model One via the Trezor Suite app, and voila, I successfully changed the crypto wallet’s background. You can’t do that with Ledger Live!

Trezor Model One security 

At the outset, I mentioned that the Trezor One has one major selling point. “Well, what is it?” you ask. It’s SatoshiLabs’ spotless security track record.

In July 2020, Ledger suffered a data breach; 272,000 customers were affected, according to Crypto Vantage. As a result, malicious actors sent counterfeit wallets to customers in a phishing scheme that compromised victims' crypto. Fortunately, users' Ledger devices were unaffected, but the attack left a sour taste in crypto investors' mouths. SatoshiLabs, on the other hand, has not experienced any hacks since it rolled out the Model One in 2014.

How the Trezor Model One keeps hackers at bay

If you ask me, the Trezor Model One is best for users who want to protect assets sitting in an online wallet (e.g., MetaMask). The most common misconception about crypto wallets is that they can “store” your digital assets after you’ve moved them off an online exchange or wallet, but that’s not necessarily accurate.

Trezor Model One

Trezor Model One (Image credit: Future)

For example, if you purchase Ethereum, that transaction gets logged via the blockchain (a distributed, public ledger). It tells folks, “Hey, Tim just bought $500 worth of ETH from Coinbase on Sunday at 8 p.m.!” The blockchain also contains information about where your ETH “lives.” If your ETH is sitting in your Coinbase Wallet, the blockchain “knows.” How? Well, your personal Coinbase Wallet has a public address (an alphanumeric string of characters) — and it’s recorded to the blockchain (You can see the world’s latest ETH transactions on Etherscan).

So what happens when you “transfer” your BTC to a new crypto hardware wallet? No, it doesn’t hop out of the blockchain and land inside your Trezor. In fact, it doesn’t leave the blockchain at all. You’re simply informing the blockchain that your BTC now “lives” in a new Trezor-supported address. This address prompts you to physically authorize Bitcoin transactions (as opposed to using a virtual UI that can be hacked). Let me explain.

Let’s say you have Ethereum in MetaMask, a Google Chrome extension. You can send ETH to a friend by simply clicking on MetaMask’s virtual buttons, right? But here’s the issue: online wallets are more susceptible to hackers. Malicious actors could hijack your browser and transfer all of your precious coins to their own wallets. However, if you transfer your digital assets to a Trezor-supported address, it’s damn-near impossible for hackers to snatch your crypto because they’d be prompted to complete transactions with your physical crypto hardware wallet. Too bad for them, they’re not in possession of your Trezor Model One — you are.

Using the Model One with MetaMask

I have my qualms about MetaMask and how it’s not intuitive enough.(I believe MetaMask should be easy enough for grandma to use, but I’ll hold my criticism for another day and another review), but on the Trezor Model One’s side of things, I had no issues connecting my Model One to MetaMask. 

If I didn’t connect my Model One to my MetaMask account, I’d have to click on the virtual buttons to green light purchases, transfers, swaps, and more. With it connected, however, I was prompted to authorize transitions with the USB-like device and I successfully sent Ethereum from my MetaMask wallet to another. 

Trezor Model One on mobile  

Unlike the Ledger Nano S Plus, which has a USB-C port, I couldn’t test the Trezor Model One’s mobile capabilities because I didn’t have an adapter that would allow me to connect the ridiculously short cable to my Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Trezor Model One

Trezor Model One USB cable (Image credit: Future)

It’s worth noting that the Trezor Model One is not compatible with iOS. It doesn’t play nicely with Chromebooks, either.

Bottom line

Let’s revisit the question we posed at the outset: Does the Model One stand a chance in the rapidly evolving crypto market? Barely! 

The Model One has an obsolete port, the Trezor Suite doesn’t display NFTs, and it doesn’t support XRP, Cardano, Binance Smart Chain, and a slew of other popular crypto networks. It’s not compatible with iOS nor Chrome OS. 

The Model One is on thin ice here, but the reason why the Trezor is still relevant in this day and age is because reputation is everything. The Ledger Nano series may have an edge over the Trezor line due to its stellar Ledger Live app, but the 2020 hack doesn’t sit well with many crypto investors. Secondly, the Trezor Model One is ideal for investors who prefer to trade blue-chip cryptocurrencies (e.g., Ethereum and Bitcoin) — established digital assets that will likely stand the test of time.

If you have more expansive holdings, you may want to consider the Trezor Model T (opens in new tab) (the successor to the Model One) or snag the $79 Ledger Nano S Plus (opens in new tab). Keep in mind, though, that the Model T will still come with the Trezor Suite companion app, which is simple and bare bones. The Ledger Nano S Plus, on the other hand, comes with Ledger Live, which has a better set of features.

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!