One of the biggest explosions into the top 10 crypto market cap is Solana, the most menacing “Eth Killer” out there amongst the pile of candidates that are chomping at the bit. Since its meteoric price rise from June 2021, there has been huge interest in the project and what it could bring to the future development of the crypto world. At the time of writing, it sits comfortably at #5, having flipped Cardano to be the second-biggest Layer 1 project after Ethereum. This means that those SOL tokens are starting to get just a bit precious. And that means you NEED a proper SOL wallet to hold those tokens.
The following piece describes the top 7 Solana wallets:
In the meanwhile, plenty of projects on the Solana ecosystem beckons you on a shopping spree of sorts, whether it’s to stake them or use them for buying NFTs or playing games. While you’re taking your sweet time to decide what to do with the tokens, they need to be in a snug, warm and safe wallet to rest themselves in before some of them gets sent out to be put to work. Better still if the wallet allows staking, like the hotel that’s internally connected to the mall. They’ll never be exposed to the inclement weather when going to work!
Assuming you haven’t found a nice home for them yet, maybe this article would be able to help you in your house-hunting mission. Even if the tokens have moved in, a leaky roof or a drafty window might want you to send them packing to a better abode. Or you could even be like me: find the house first before buying the tokens. Right then, let’s proceed onwards.
The Phantom wallet is a native Solana wallet designed exclusively for the Solana ecosystem. It is non-custodial, ie you safeguard your own assets and be your own bank, and works on known browsers such as Chrome, Brave (crypto-friendly with a Chrome base), Firefox and (Microsoft) Edge. The design is user-friendly, clean, and simple. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity because it packs a number of features:
- Swap tokens with instant prices and low gas fees through its integration with Raydium, Solana’s version of Uniswap. Tokens supported include: SOL, USDC, USDT, ETH, BTC, renBTC. Transaction fee is 0.85%
- Store your NFTs and collectibles in a separate section in the wallet. It’s worth noting that NFTs listed on a marketplace will not show up here. These NFTs are placed in an escrow account until they are sold or delisted.
- Integrates with the Ledger cold wallet to provide added protection for your SOL.
- Stake SOL within the wallet by selecting a validator to stake your tokens with. The APY usually ranges from 5-6% for the majority of them with a handful falling below 5%. Staking is like lending someone your tokens. You still own them while they are being staked.
- Supports SPL tokens that are used in Solana’s DeFi applications. These tokens are like the ERC20 tokens in the Ethereum blockchain.
There are a few things to take note of that may or may not be a risk:
- The FTX exchange is closely-tied to the Solana blockchain. As such, there is a direct link between it and the Phantom wallet. This is in the Deposit section where there is a special button for depositing SOL directly from the exchange. Otherwise, you can also fund the wallet through other means.
- The password phrase for the wallet is a 12-word seed phrase. Most wallets use a 24-word seed phrase. More words equal higher level of security.
- The wallet only exists in the form of a browser extension. There is no desktop or mobile version as of now.
- Raydium is the only exchange used for swapping tokens so the prices are limited by the amount of liquidity in the exchange. There is talk that Phantom may support other exchanges in the future.
- It allows all tokens in the wallet to be staked without accounting for the transaction fees that could arise. This puts users in the situation of having to add more tokens in order to unstake in the future.
- Popular validators is listed first by default which may be more expensive validators while the more rewarding ones are down the list. Users need to really do their homework first before deciding on which validators to stake with.
Developed by Solana Labs, Solflare is one of the first wallets designed for the Solana ecosystem. Its popularity is neck-and-neck with Phantom and it bests Phantom in supporting more platforms. Aside from the browser extension, it also has its own web and mobile app, giving it added convenience for those on the go.
The wallet has identical functionality with Phantom when it comes to swapping tokens, storing visual and audio NFTs, integrating with Ledger for extra security, and staking SOL. However, it also has a few twists of its own:
- When it comes to swapping tokens, this works on the web application and browser extension but doing it in mobile is something that is only available in the future.
- An upcoming integration with the Solrise investment platform allows users to manage their investment funds through the wallet. This is quite a handy feature, especially considering that both products are built by the same team.
- Unlike the 12-word mnemonic phrase used by Phantom, Solflare uses a 24-word mnemonic phrase, making it a more secure option.
- Its staking function prevents the user from staking 100% of their tokens, accounting for the inevitable transaction fees accompanying this action.
Based on the points above, I would say that Solflare is more suitable for those looking to get more out of a wallet than just the basics. The team behind it is as solid as it comes, which means that the wallet is fairly secure and there is strong support from the community on Discord.
There’s another project in the Solana ecosystem known as Project Serum. a decentralised exchange that is also quite popular with Solana users. That team created the Sollet wallet to provide support for the usage of the DeX. Available only as a browser extension, Sollet also distinguishes itself by proclaiming that the wallet is designed for advance users and developers. It’s very clear on its target audience, which I see it as a good thing.
One key feature that makes Sollet stand out from the other two, other than its direct integration with Serum, is the ability to hold ERC20 tokens. This is something neither Solflare or Phantom are able to do. The wallet offers a lists of tokens to add through three categories:
- Popular Tokens – these are the tokens most used in the Solana ecosystem such as Serum (SRM), MegaSerum (MSRM), Bonfida (FIDA), LQID, KIN, MAPS, RAMP, Raydium (RAY) and Oxygen Protocol (OXY). Other popular ERC20 tokens such as wBTC, wETH, USDT etc can also be found here.
- ERC20 tokens – if the ERC20 token you’re looking for isn’t in the category above, you can add them manually in this section by keying in the ERC20 token contract address.
- Manual Input – these tokens are custom SPL ones where the project might be really new (hopefully not a scam), and not yet widely-used.
Adding each type of token costs a fee of 0.002039 SOL per token type. While it may not be much, it does add up. Be sure you have some SOL in the wallet before you start adding.
Just like Solflare, Sollet also uses the 24-word mnemonic seed phrase format, which gives it strong security. For additional security, link it up with the Ledger hardware wallet. It also allows staking for SOL and SPL tokens. Due to its integration with Serum, the user can also farm SPL tokens through Serum. However, many of these projects are quite new so farm at your own risk!
Depending on how comfortable you are with using wallets, Sollet can be an option. But if you don’t need the ER20 tokens or won’t be doing much with Serum, then one of the other two wallets are probably good enough.
Aside from the native Solana wallets covered, there are also 3rd-party wallets that also support Solana and allows for staking too. If you like to have “one wallet to rule them all”, you can consider any of the ones below:
One of the more established 3rd-party wallets in the crypto community is the Atomic wallet. It offers support for more than 300 cryptocurrencies together with staking options for many of them, including SOL tokens. Just like with the native ones, you can choose a validator and stake your SOL with them. However, if you choose to stake with the Atomic validator node, you can get a tempting 7% as a reward, higher than the 5-6% one usually gets with validators.
3rd-party wallets like Atomic also has on-ramp capabilities. This means you can use your credit card or wire transfer to buy crypto from the wallet and have it be sent there. This makes it easy for newbies to get into the crypto game. The rates may be a bit steep but not unbearable. Not all tokens can be purchased directly with fiat money though, including SOL. To get SOL into Atomic, you will need to buy some other token like Bitcoin or Ethereum with your credit card, then exchange it for SOL within the wallet.
Atomic offers a variety of platforms, ranging from desktop applications for PC, Mac and even Linux (via Ubuntu) to mobile apps, there’s a version for everyone. But not everything is peachy with them. Here are some of the risks:
- Only a 12-word seed phrase is used. Not the best in security.
- NFTs cannot be displayed in the wallet.
- No support for SPL tokens (yet).
There are some Reddit comments about tokens disappearing or frozen, ie cannot be accessed, especially during peak times. While the comments could be from a minority, it still pays to be cautious as it could happen to you.
Another popular 3rd-party wallet is Exodus wallet, which you can read more about it here. When it comes to staking SOL, unlike the other wallets where you can select validators, Exodus defaults to its own validator, known as Everstake, which yields a 6.1% APY reward. There is also a warmup and cool down period that comes with staking SOL.
Similar to Atomic, the wallet comes in a variety of platforms for desktop (Mac, Windows, Linux) and mobile. For hard wallet integration, it differs from the rest by integrating with Trezor instead of Ledger. Good news for Trezor fans if you’ve been shopping for a hot wallet to work with your cold one.
The Exodus wallet allows users to exchange crypto tokens through its integration with the Shapeshift exchange. Word on the street is that using it to exchange for small sums is ok but be careful of larger amounts as it might get “lost”.
For FTX members, you can also use Exodus wallet as a kind of extension from FTX. You will need to sign in separately to access your FTX account when you get the FTX app through the desktop version of Exodus. There is the added convenience of being able to view your FTX portfolio together with your Exodus holdings in the same screen.
Some of the risks of using Exodus relates to security:
- It uses a 12-word seed phrase, which again, not as secure as the 24-word version.
- No 2FA is required. The user is advised to backup the wallet’s keys for more security.
If you don’t demand too much from your wallet, Exodus is a good option to consider. As with most hot wallets, small amounts are relatively safe but nothing large to prevent unexpected disappointments.
Slightly less well-known than the other two but by no means a laggard is Math Wallet. A multi-platform wallet (mobile, desktop, browser extension, hardware integration with Ledger) with cross-chain support for more than 86 blockchains, it also has:
- Math DApp – a DApp store that allows users to interact with the services built on the major chains through the wallet.
- MathVault – where staking and DeFi activities take place, including staking SOL. The general APR rates advertised could be up to 30% (although it didn’t say which tokens would yield that kind of rate). They also encourage participation by:
- Issuing MATH tokens as rewards. These tokens can be used throughout the MATH ecosystem.
- Friend referral program earns the referrer an extra 20% from the friend’s earnings.
- MATHGas – track the gas fees of major chains through this app.
While the highlight of this piece is about wallets that are good for staking Solana and general usage, it’s clear that MathWallet aims to be much more than just a 3rd-party wallet service. With the variety of services offered, it’s very interested in corralling users into its own fold and keep them engaged as much as possible.
The main risk associated with this wallet is that it’s custodial, meaning you don’t own the private keys to the wallet.
Whether you choose to use Ledger as your main wallet and stake through the extensions available or using a hot wallet with Ledger providing additional security, you can’t go wrong with this industry-standard fully non-custodial cold wallet. The Ledger Nano X is the most entry-friendly in terms of pricing but it still packs a decent punch. The Ledger Live app comes with the hardware purchase and is easy to use, which I can attest to since I use it myself.
As far as safety goes, it’s one of the best out there with a 24-word seed phrase acting as the gatekeeper plus a regular password for protection. The list of Solana validators are also available for staking selection. The only downside is that you would need to pay money for it. The others are all free of charge. However, given its capabilities, it’s as close as having your own bank. I’d say $100 – $200 is a small price to pay for owning a bank. Don’t you think so?
Given the number of wallets we’ve covered, I thought I’d make it easy for you to with the comparison chart below:
Having given these wallets the once-over, I’d say that any one of them works well, depending on your needs. If you’re only focused on getting the most out of your Solana, then a native wallet might be the way to go. If safety is your number one concern, you can’t get any safer than a cold wallet. If Solana is not your main focus and you like having your fingers in as many pies as possible but not the hassle of owning one wallet per token, the 3rd-party ones serve their purpose well.
In crypto, participation is the name of the game. Whatever you do, as long as you’re doing something within the range of risk you’re comfortable with, that’s all that matters.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.