The folks at Pine64 are working on a Linux-powered smartphone that could sell for as little as $149. It’s called the PinePhone, and the team unveiled the project and launched a development kit earlier this year.

Now that developers are starting to work with that pre-release hardware, we’re getting our first look at what the phone could look like when it’s running GNU/Linux-based software.

Photos of a dev kit booting PostMarketOS with the KDE Plasma Mobile user interface were posted recently to the PinePhone developers Telegram group.

There’s nothing all that surprising in the photos… but it’s nice to see that it works. Plasma Mobile is a touch-friendly user environment from the folks who make the KDE desktop environment. It has touch-friendly icons along the bottom of the screen for quick access to features like the phone app, camera app, file manager, and web browser.

As for the PinePhone itself, a prototype is expected in the third quarter of 2019, and Pine64 hopes to ship the phone in the fourth quarter of the year, assuming software is ready by then.

The phone is powered by an Allwinner A64 ARM Cortex-A53 processor and features 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 1440 x 720 pixel display, 4G LTE Cat 4 support, 802.11n WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0.

It has a 5MP rear camera and 2MP front camera, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader. There may also be privacy features such as physical kill switches for the wireless hardware, cameras, and speakers.

While the PinePhone certainly won’t be the most powerful smartphone on the market by the time it’s ready for release, it will be a lot cheaper than some of the other GNU/Linux phones in the works, such as Purism’s Librem 5, which is up for pre-order for $649.

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12 replies on “First look at the PinePhone dev kit running KDE Plasma Mobile & PostmarketOS”

  1. It is a shame to have GNU/Linux running smartphone without a keyboard.
    Hope they will release slider, a candlebar or vertical slider with time passing

    1. I couln’t agree more. Linux without keyboard looses it’s strong points. You can’t properly use terminal or keyboard shrotcuts to say a few.
      I am actually impressed by dragonbox-pyra for it’s design. Only issue there is heavy delay in release, and very old CPU, but still it will be much better than android.

  2. I would be much happier seeing them work on their Pinebook Pro laptop and decent distribution channels instead of a phone which is a lost-cause.

    The Pinebook Pro laptop would actually have a decent chance of succeeding in the market on its own merit.

  3. Back in 2000-2007 this would’ve been an awesome product with a lot of interest.

    And from 2008-2011 there were still a lot of fans hoping for a better alternative to Windows 7, OS X, iOS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerryOS, and Android, but based on open-source.

    Since 2012-2016 a lot of interest has died, with many projects either dying or barely making progress, whilst Android made great strides with the 4.0.3 ICS platform and the 5.1 Lollipop platform. Sure, Android isn’t the open-source platform most enthusiasts wanted, but its working and successful.

    Now, from 2016-2020…. such ambitions of a mainstream “proper” open-source system and devices are nothing but pipe dreams, or only a weekend hobby. Have a look at all these KickStarters that get cancelled, or don’t even raise enough funds anymore. Now only the hardcore fans care, and that’s a little sad if you ask me.

    1. While I agree that interest has probably died down, support for something like this, however, has not.

      Groups like Pine64 and Purism shouldn’t be compared to past failures like Ubuntu Touch or Mozilla because the means and strategy/aims used for those particular two projects were unrealistic from the get-go.

      Purism has received a decent backing and has made significant progress for the community, unlike what both Canonical and Mozilla had done.

      Pine64 can do it too, since all they would need to focus on is something they currently excel in—pushing out hardware.

      There’s no guarantee they’ll see the same success nor any comparative success to that of Android, but if they can get a bare-minimum phone working that is “proper” Linux, then they’ll have succeeded in what was expected to be delivered a long time ago from the community.

      Simply because they won’t reach feature parity with Android isn’t so much a reason not to want one as it is to want one.

      People like to use that argument when they don’t understand why Android has had the problems its had for years now. It’s a secure OS at a minimum, but it falls flat to the same problems any advanced/feature-disperse OS has. It expands its surface area way too much and allows for vulnerabilities to be exploited due to Google’s handling of the app-space and its execution/management.

      People who believe in this “lost-cause” do so because companies like Google and Apple don’t really care about privacy among other things.

      A phone should simply be a phone. I could care less if it supports the new “Snapy chat” or “Tweeeters”. The only thing it SHOULD do is make calls and send texts. That’s it.

      Android is too easy to abuse and Apple abuses iOS via its own means.

  4. Another uncommon chip for smartphones, Allwinner A64 which was originally for tablets. Why do these projects including Librem 5 use such chips? Neither chips are powerful since the cores are A53s.

    1. They use A53s most likely because it has drivers in the official upstream. Purism mentioned in their blog posts that a lot of hardware has only proprietary blobs at best and other hardware has buggy upstream drivers.

  5. At around $150, I would just need to make sure it’s functional. If I was sure I wasn’t throwing my money away on a brick, I’d pick one up right away as a backup device without thinking twice – with the hope (after some personal testing) it could be my primary.

    It wasn’t that long ago that Pine announced this and they already have an estimated ship date. I’m honestly floored by how quickly this is being put together. This is exciting to see unfold!

  6. Wow a phone running KDE natively Love it… it’s ok as it is right now I’ll buy it now!

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