Purism’s upcoming Librem 5 smartphone is designed to stand out from in a few big ways. It’ll ship with an open source, GNU/Linux-based operating system called PureOS. Users will be able to replace the operating system with an alternate OS if they like. And there will be hardware kill switches to let you shut off features you’re not using in order to give users more control over privacy.

The phone has been in development for a few years and while it seems unlikely that the estimated ship date of Q3, 2019 is still accurate, Purism CTO Nicole Faerber recently gave a presentation about the progress made so far… and publicly revealed what the phone’s printed circuit board (PCB) will look like.

One intriguing detail? There are two M.2 slots for the wireless cards. That means users may be able to swap out cards to replace or upgrade wireless capabilities in the future.

The WiFi and Bluetooth will both be on an M.2 2230 card, while the 4G LTE modem will be on a separate M.2 3042 card. Purism says theoretically any M.2 card with the same user interface should work with the phone assuming the firmware is compatible.

It’s unclear if you could use something other than a wireless radio such as an SSD in one of those slots.

The finished smartphone is expected to measure 147.1 x 72.25 x 15mm (5.8″ x 2.9″ x 0.6″) which would make it a little thicker than a typical smartphone, but a lot more upgradeable than most.

Purism has also confirmed that hardware kill switches will sever the connection between the PCB and the cellular baseband, WiFi and Bluetooth, cameras, microphone, and sensors.

You can watch Faerber’s entire 45 minute talk in a video on the Purism website.

The smartphone is up for pre-order for $699 and it’s expected to feature a 5.7 inch, 720 x 1440 pixel IPS display, an NXP i.MXM8 quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of eMMC storage, a 13MP rear camera, an 8MP front camera, a 3,500 mAH battery, and a USB 3.0 Type-C port.

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19 replies on “Librem 5 smartphone will have two M.2 slots for replaceable wireless cards”

  1. Okay.
    One thing they didn’t mention right up front, because they know it looks REALLY bad, was the final dimensions of this thing.
    It’s 15mm thick. Basically two Galaxy s5’s stacked on top of each other. Basically twice as thick as the concept images they were using to sell the damn thing.
    This is a SERIOUS problem. How am I supposed to use something like that in public!? The concept images looked inconspicuous, but anyone who sees you toting that brick around is going to wonder what in the world is WRONG with you. And then they’ll ask questions, and you’re going to look like a paranoid idiot trying to defend this thing.
    I mean, everything was going so well, and then they just dropped the ball. Yet again, it’s another attempt to break away from the duopoly, and it’s just going to meet the same fate as every other time someone’s tried: there’s some fundamental fatal flaw that causes everyone to lose interest.
    This sucks.

    1. That’s easy to solve.

      Buy a short walkie-talkie antenna and glue it to the top side of the phone.
      Now it’ll look like your generic result of “ip68 smartphone ptt” search request on aliexpress.

      To pull it off inconspicuously you may also need good trekking boots, a simple, with no signs of allegiance or prints khaki (beige in US/UK, olive in the majority of the world) t-shirt, an overall fit outlook and a calm demeanor; arguably good and practical things to have anyway.

  2. It’s, uh, a bit too high-priced smartphone to be used for tinkering, except for most affluent.
    I get that the price is driven up by the small volume and by the costs of software development.
    However, it sends some mixed signals. Do I get a rather expencive privacy-focused daily driver (well, acceptable) or an ultra-expensive dev board with a touchscreen?

  3. I’m very curious if this phone’s M.2 slots could be used in conjunction with a PCIe adapter to connect a desktop GPU like the RTX 2080 Ti to this phone. Linustechtips did something like that before with the LattePanda Alpha but I’m very curious if the same could be done for this phone, not that there’s really any practical reason why you’d want something like that.

  4. dont the commenters realize that this phone isnt running alot of junk ? android has java then art and required great hardware to just run without jutter while the iphone needed less ram and slower hardware think 32bit dual cores at around 1.xGhz that ran better than the quad core counter parts .

    this wont be slow

  5. Although I don’t regret preordering it because at the time there was no pinephone (which I doubt would have happened without this), there are some deep concerns held by free software enthusiasts.
    1. Delays. The longer it takes to ship, the more people lose interest, which may result in completely giving up on free software on phones.
    2. Price to specs. $700 is simply out of the reach of many small people who have reasons to fear big corporate hegemony. And it’s hard to justify buying this without sounding paranoid when you can get something that I am told is five times more powerful for less. So you can’t brag about it. The fewer people that buy it, and the less interest there is in it, the more isolated the people who bought it are.
    Of course, too much interest in this phone could lead to google and others taking action in some form or another against purism.
    3. GNOME. Merely hearing this causes them to panic, after hearing about how bloated it is and given their belief that it’s entire existence is big corporate hegemonic tyranny.
    4.Wayland. See above, but replace bloated with buggy.
    5. The CTO appears to be a type of person not known for favoring personal freedom particularly when it comes to having controversial opinions, as well as for placing the merit of one’s work below one’s identity. This is not my opinion, this is merely a concern others have expressed.
    I try not to let these get to me. It’s been ordered. And I believe I would be wrong to continue to use any google product or service. I’ll take the downgrade if it means I can escape.

      1. Watch the video. You might not get it, but if you do, understand that I only relay the concern of others, many of which work in the software industry, and have come to know and fear the trends in the work environment.
        Aside from that, I’m not willing to elaborate.

        1. Okay. Actually I’ve already added this one to my playlist. But it takes a little while for me to get there. It’s nice here at the moment and I’m sleeping.

  6. I get why people nay-say this phone, but it’s not at all about top specs and the like. If it ever comes out (and it actually works), there won’t be anything else like it out on the market and it will likely have a very small but very devoted user base. It could be the next coming of the Nokia N900, right as the sunsetting of 3G bands starts to kill off the last N900s out in the wild in the US. (A fate that, at least in theory, the Librem 5 should be a little more resistant to.)

      1. Yup. Purism is wants you to drop a large investment into them being able to do two very difficult things. 1. Design a phone that isn’t just a minor variation from a reference design. 2. Produce a free software phone stack from scratch.

        Pine realizes they can’t do that. But they, unlike Purism, do have a track record of building working boards around AllWinner chips and that is all they are doing. There are multiple efforts attempting to build a Free Software phone stack, all hampered by ever changing hardware designed for Android by other people and poorly documented. So Pine offered to build and sustain a more open reference platform, and keep it in the market for several years. Several projects have now adopted the PinePhone because of this. So buying a Pine means you will probably actually get the hardware, since Pine has a history of designing, and the hardware will work. With multiple projects adopting it the odds are good at least one will now succeed and produce a usable software stack. And at a third the price they aren’t pricing out everyone outside the 1st World, so the developer base should be stronger.

    1. If it works, and that is an if, I’m definitely buying one. The whiners don’t exactly have a solution that’s any better. Android and iOS are both a wreck from the privacy and security side, and getting worse.
      You can’t build an alternative easily even if you’re Microsoft.

      1. I have. Ditch the smartphones.

        Use a featurephone for calls and sms.
        Use any laptop with 4G LTE in or added in for connectivity on the go, if you really need it.

        Sure, you won’t have access to the mobile apps, but you lose it anyway.

    2. It is very expensive with outdated parts. I would pay more for a bare bones system that I could choose my own parts.

  7. I get the feeling that photo/video quality, screen and charging will be sub-par from what I currently have. Even if they allowed me to trade my current phone for a brand-new Librem phone, I wouldn’t do it.

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