The Necunos NC_1 looks like a typical smartphone. But instead of Android or iOS it’s designed to run GNU/Linux-based software. And… it doesn’t have a cellular modem or SIM card slot.

So basically it’s a phone-shaped Linux tablet. Or something. Whatever it is, it’s up for pre-order starting today and it’s scheduled to start shipping to customers in March.

The Necunos NC_1 is also described as “an engineering unit,” which suggests it’s aimed at early adopters. If the platform takes off, it could theoretically pave the way for the makers of this device to ship actual phones that can make calls and access data over cellular networks.

Necunos NC_1

Pre-orders are opening just over a month after a Finnish startup called Necuno Solutions first announced the phone. Since then the company has changed its branding. Instead of Necuno Mobile, the company’s first two handheld devices will be called the Necunos NC_1 (community edition) and the Necunos NE_1 (enterprise edition with an emphasis on security features). Only the community model is up for pre-order today from the company’s website. Folks interested in the enterprise model can contact sales@necunos.com

It’s a limited-edition device: only 500 will be manufactured in the first batch, which may help explain why it costs so much. Necuno Mobile is charging 1199 Euros (~$1360) for the device. That price includes VAT and international shipping, but it’s still a lot of money for a gadget with a 6-year-old processor.

Customers can also opt for a model with or without the screen attached (the latter option being aimed at developers).

Specs include a 5 inch display, an NXP i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, a 3,500 mAh battery, a micro USB port, a 3.5mm headset jack, stereo speakers, and 2.4 GHz WiFi (via SDIO).

In other words, it’s kind of a lousy deal if you’re just considering the hardware. Clearly this is a mobile device aimed at folks who value free and open source software over functionality and performance. But it’s not entirely free from proprietary software. There will be some closed source firmware included for interacting with some hardware such as the wireless card. But Necuno says that firmware will be isolated so that it cannot access the phone’s memory.

The Necno NC_1 is available with a choice of operating systems/user environments, including:

  • Debian with Plasma Mobile
  • PostmarketOS with Plasma Mobile
  • Maemo Leste
  • Nemo Mobile
  • LuneOS
  • No operating system

Or you could wait for Purism to start shipping its upcoming Linux-powered Librem 5 smartphone, which has a newer, more powerful processor and the support for cellular networks. The corporation recently started shipping development kits to customers.

Necunos NC_1 and NE_1 press release

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5 replies on “Necunos NC_1 is an expensive, open source phone-shaped… thing”

  1. Why the unnecessarily negative and skeptical tone in the headline? Apple has sold huge numbers of the iPod Touch – so it’s not like this is a bizarre useless unheard-of class of device. Simply present it as a free / open source software alternative to the iPod Touch.

  2. I would be very happy buying a handheld linux thingy and coupling it with a feature phone’s hotspot. The Necunos NC_1 apparently isn’t being built with end-users in mind but as a first stage in a long process.

    I do like their Mission Statement (security, privacy, focus on open hardware). Really appreciate seeing this posted on liliputing. The project deserves some eyes. It takes a village…

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