The Best Crypto Hardware Wallet? – imKey Pro Review

Not your keys, not your coins. Times like these have highlighted the importance of storing your cryptocurrency in a wallet where you have full control over your private keys. If you are frequently sending or receiving, the most secure way to manage your crypto is with a hardware wallet. Everyone has probably heard of Ledger or Trezor, but today I’m going to be looking at a lesser-known contender called the imKey Pro. It’s a battery powered hardware wallet by imToken, a company whose mobile wallet app has accrued substantial market share in Asia. The imKey Pro has been integrated with the imToken app and the two communicate via Bluetooth connection.

Coming in at a price of $109 USD, the imKey Pro sits slightly higher than the $72 Trezor Model One or the $79 Ledger Nano S Plus. But it does offer the premium bluetooth feature that is only obtainable with the Ledger Nano X at $149. Trezor has no such capability, even in its $255 dollar Model T. For this video I purchased the imKey Pro Set, which for an additional $30 comes with a leather case and a steel backup kit for the wallet seed. An identical product called the Billfodl is being sold at $99 by Ledger, so I think the imKey offering is very good value.

My order arrived in a branded imKey box with security seals so that you can tell if it had been tampered with. Inside we find the steel backup kit, the leather case, and finally the imKey Pro itself. The box for the hardware wallet again has security seals and when opening it you smell the same aroma of a new Apple product. You get the hardware wallet, which utilizes a micro-USB port, as well as a micro-USB to USB A cable. Personally, I would have preferred both ends to be USB C as that is the standard everyone is moving toward, but it doesn’t really matter as this is a Bluetooth device. The included documentation guides you through the setup process and there’s also 2 cards that you can write your wallet seed on.

I found the design of the imKey Pro to be quite interesting, given that it is vastly different to the Ledger and Trezor products that I have experience with. It’s the same shape as bank cards that would fit in your wallet although it’s smaller in size, therefore you can’t really store it in there because it falls deep into the slot and it’s hard to remove. I guess that’s why they ship it with their own leather case, which does fit the imKey Pro snuggly and lets you carry additional cards that are of the traditional size. When compared to Ledger and Trezor models, from a top-down perspective the imKey Pro basically takes up the same footprint as the Trezor Model T. But when you look at the side profile, that’s where things are really put into perspective. The imKey Pro is incredibly thin in comparison to these other hardware wallets. I seriously don’t know how the imKey team crammed in the battery, a screen, the Bluetooth antenna as well as physical buttons, in this wafer-thin housing.

Setting up the device is a straightforward process if you’ve dealt with hardware wallets before. To begin, you need to install the imToken app that is available for both Android and Apple devices. The app will first ask you to create a new identity, which is just a new multi-coin wallet. After backing up the seed, you will gain access to the main interface of the app. Keep in mind that this wallet is separate to the hardware wallet and its private keys are stored on your phone. I would have preferred if they gave us the ability to disable this wallet, or just not create it in the first place, as I don’t see imKey users needing it and it only adds unnecessary confusion. To pair the imKey with the imToken app, tap the menu in the top left, tap manage, and then scroll down and select ‘pairing to imKey hardware wallet’. With your imKey device powered on, the phone will find it over Bluetooth. Enter the pairing code and then the imKey will display a binding code; you should write this down with your seed phrase. As far as I’m aware this security feature is unique to the imKey Pro, and it prevents it from being used with new devices unless you can provide this code. With that backed up, you will then need to set a pin code and create a new wallet. This is the same process that you go through earlier, where you simply scroll through the seed words and verify them after. After this the imKey will begin creating the wallets and that process takes a few minutes.

This is a good time to back up your seed phrase with the steel backup kit, if you bought that. I found this process extremely tedious, but you’ve got to do it to ensure greater protection of your funds. Basically, you just punch out the first 4 letters of each seed word and align them in the corresponding slot. This combination is unique and can be cross referenced against the BIP 39 word list if you need to recover your wallet in the future. When you’re done inserting the letters, the case snaps shut and can even be padlocked through the hole in the top for additional security.

Looking back to the imKey Pro, the device should now be successfully paired with your phone. Through the settings you can turn on support for a bunch of different cryptocurrencies, pretty much all the major names are supported as well as tokens on these networks. I played around with sending and receiving a bunch of coins like Tron, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash. When sending transactions you will need to sign it and confirm from the device, but when receiving you can just copy addresses straight out of the app – no verification required. It all worked as you would expect it to, and I didn’t encounter any problems. The app gives notifications when a new transaction is received, which is good, although transactions do not appear until they have received a confirmation on the blockchain. Another thing I liked was that when I sent some ERC-20 tokens to the Ethereum address, they were automatically detected and I was prompted to add them to my list of displayed tokens. There are some things I would like to see improved, which would make the imKey far more useful, the first being the ability to get xPUBs for your Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash wallets. This should be trivial to add and the BTC wallet does currently allow you to create fresh addresses, although you can’t do this on Bitcoin Cash. We are stuck with a single address on other coins like Ethereum too. This is fine for basic users but if you need multiple addresses for various needs, it’s currently unattainable.

In addition to this basic functionality the imToken app has several advanced features built in but they are mostly centered around Ethereum. On the Market page you can view the coin market cap rankings, check the price of coins, and create a list of your favorites. There is also coin swapping functionality built in, although when I tested it there were abnormally high fees to perform these transactions and therefore I avoided using it. If you want to do coin swaps, then I recommend using SideShift.ai. You won’t get hit by high fees, you can send coins or tokens that are not on Ethereum, and it can all be done seamlessly on your phone. There is another page within imToken called browser, and this basically has a bunch of popular DeFi and Dapp websites listed within it. You can go to websites like Uniswap and it automatically connects to your wallet, thereby allowing you to perform swaps and other functions on these websites. With this it is unclear why they have coin swapping functionality on the market page, which is vastly inferior.

A major feature of the imKey Pro, which make it quite unique in comparison to competitors, is that it has support for several Ethereum virtual machines built right into the app. By selecting your Ethereum wallet and then tapping on the dropdown menu at the top, you will be able to choose from Binance Smart Chain, Polygon, Avalanche and SmartBCH, just to name a few. Normally this sort of functionality is not natively supported in the software of hardware wallets and you have to use 3rd party software like Metamask. I was pretty impressed by this and I made sure to test it out extensively.  The first thing I did was bridge  MATIC tokens from Ethereum to Polygon. DAPPs outside of the imToken app have no problem communicating with it through Wallet Connect. You perform functions such as sending coins and it will automatically open imToken for you to sign the transaction with your imKey device. It all went through successfully and then shortly after I had a balance in my Polygon wallet within imToken. I then got myself some BNB on Binance Smart Chain and sent that around to some other wallets, before bridging it over to SmartBCH. Here I played around with MistSwap, a DEX on SmartBCH, and bought myself a few different tokens. These all appeared in the imKey wallet without issue and it was even able to pull in information such as the token logo. I then went a step further by creating a liquidity pool between the BCH and LAW tokens, after which I staked the LP tokens in a farm. One thing that’s awesome about the imToken app is that by going to the DEFI tab, it will display your staked coins across various platforms. Tapping on a listing shows your current token balances, which fluctuate due to impermanent loss, and their dollar value. This is something that’s not even available in Metamask and I think it would be great if harvest farms from within imToken as well. As for NFT’s, this is not something that’s currently supported on any networks other than Ethereum, in which you will find an NFT tab. I don’t have any NFT’s on Ethereum and therefore I cannot report on any of the functionality in that area. I did send a SmartBCH NFT to my address and I was able to add it to the list of tokens, but I couldn’t send it elsewhere from within imToken. For this you will have to rely on a 3rd party like Oasis.Cash or OpenSea NFT marketplaces, which utilize Wallet Connect, and will allow you to better manage and view your NFTs.

By now, based on what I’ve shown you, you’ve probably already worked out that the imKey Pro is a hardware wallet very much focused on mobile use. In fact, you can’t really use it on PC’s at all. They provide software called imKey Manger that you can connect your wallet to, but unfortunately it’s really only used for updating the device firmware. There’s also a DeFi page, which appears to be a built-in web browser, that lets you go to Ethereum sites like Uniswap. I tried to use this but it didn’t really work. The fact that it’s there however, would indicate that perhaps this is something being worked on by the imKey developers and we may get greater PC functionality with this hardware wallet in the future. It would be could if we could just do basic sending and receiving of coins on PCs.

On the topic of imKey software, they do claim that their software is open source however I struggled to find a link to the code on their website. After emailing them and asking about this, they sent me a link to their Github repo in which I found code for the core program, which runs on the hardware wallet device. If imKey want to improve trust with the crypto community and their customers, I’d say this is an area that needs a great deal of improvement in terms of documentation.

All in all, I’ve greatly enjoyed my time with the imKey Pro – a hardware wallet unlike anything I’ve used before. I’m not a huge fan of mobile devices and would say I’m primarily a PC user, but given this wallet’s mobile focus I found myself interacting with familiar websites in unfamiliar ways and it was a positive experience. The native support for various DeFi networks was great, I think just in general this hardware wallet supports a lot of coins and tokens that competitors do not. So if you want a wide range assets that can all be managed through the one interface, this may be for you. Bluetooth functionality was also a standout feature to me, not needing to carry around a cable and constantly fiddle with connections was game changing. I honestly didn’t realize how much I loathe cables until I used the imKey. The device form factor is impressive, and easy to carry around. Additionally, over the course of a week and hours of extensive use each day, I only had to charge the device once toward the end of the week. If you are a person who is constantly out of the office or travelling, the imKey Pro will provide you with a great deal of convenience in managing your crypto assets – without sacrificing security. This is the specific niche of users who I think the imKey Pro is suited to right now. If the developers of imKey can take onboard criticisms and feedback I’ve given in this video and implement improvements, then I believe they can attract the interest of all crypto users. That’s all for this video guys, if you enjoyed it then please hit that like button, subscribe and stay tuned for more videos later this week.

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