HTC’s Exodus blockchain smartphones will soon receive their own mining app, letting them mine Monero cryptocurrency when plugged in and idle, The Block reported earlier this month. The DeMiner app, which is being developed by Midas Labs, is scheduled to launch in Q2 2020.
According to Midas Labs’ Jri Lee, one of HTC’s Exodus 1S smartphones should be able to mine $0.0038 of Monero a day, which doesn’t exactly turn the phone into a moneymaking machine. In fact, Decrypt ran the numbers and found that, at that rate, you’d be in line to make just over a dollar a year ($1.387). That means you’d pay off the €219 (around $237) Exodus 1S in around 170 years — excluding electricity costs, that is.
Of course, no one is going to be buying an Exodus smartphone as an investment; they’re buying it to use as a phone that can also mine a little cryptocurrency while it’s charging. What’s important from Midas Labs’ perspective is that a smartphone’s relatively efficient processor means that it consumes less power as it mines. Midas Labs told The Block that an average laptop can mine $0.06 of Monero a day but will consume $0.156 of power in the process (meaning you’re running it at a loss), while the Exodus 1S’s should have a profit margin of 50 percent when you take power costs into account.
There’s also a philosophical element to turning mobile devices into mining machines, which is that it could potentially result in a larger and more decentralized network. That’s important if you want to stop giant mining pools from controlling too much of a cryptocurrency’s blockchain, putting it at risk of so-called 51 percent attacks like the one suffered by Ethereum Classic last year.
“The crypto world is under threat from the domination of the hashrate by giant mining pools,” says HTC’s Phil Chen. “The most effective way to eliminate this problem is to make mining accessible for the masses, and that is through mobile.”
Monero has been controversial, according to Forbes. The currency was delisted by two exchanges, BitBay and OKEx, last year after they said its privacy-focused design made it harder for them to comply with regulations. However, Chen dismissed these concerns to Forbes, saying that banks can still comply with regulations using the currency.
It all means that the Exodus smartphones are likely to remain niche gadgets for crypto enthusiasts. Being able to mine cryptocurrency or run a Bitcoin node is a neat curiosity, but HTC’s ailing smartphone division needs a lot more than that if it’s going to turn itself around.