The makers of the PinePhone Linux smartphone recently introduced a Convergence Pack edition designed to let you use the device as a desktop Linux computer by connecting a keyboard, mouse and display. But what if you want a thumb keyboard for typing on the go?

That may be coming soon.

Pine64 plans to offer a slide-out keyboard for the PinePhone.

Unofficial PinePhone keyboard by Дмитрий Куртуков

The keyboard is still in the early stages of development. In a blog post, Pine64 says the company is “currently in talks with a number of hardware vendors,” and is also soliciting design ideas from the community (although it’s worth noting that if you submit a design that Pine64 decides to use, you’ll receive credit for the contribution and a reward of some kind, but no money).

Pine64 has settled on a 5-row keyboard layout, and wants the keyboard to work as an optional accessory that can:

  • Interface with the PinePhone’s rear pogo pin expansion connector
  • Replace the phone’s back cover and snap firmly into place
  • Slide out from behind the phone when you want to type, and slide back under when you don’t need it

The company says the goal is to offer a keyboard that’s “similar, mechanically and functionally” to the one used on the Nokia N900, a Linux-based smartphone released in 2009 back when Android and iOS hadn’t yet completely obliterated the competition in the smartphone space and companies like Nokia were still experimenting with new operating systems.

If you don’t feel like waiting for an official accessory, you could try building your own — that’s what YouTuber Дмитрий Куртуков did. In a couple of recent videos, you can see that DIY keyboard in action.

Pine64 is also looking into the possibility of offering a gamepad add-on for the PinePhone, but that project is still in the “exploratory stage” and the company hasn’t settled on any design details yet… other than making it clear that the gamepad would have to use the PinePhone’s pogo pins and attach to the phone mechanically.

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7 Comments

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  1. I hope it’ll have a mouse pointer.To me, that’d be better than any solution that uses and covers the touchscreen.

    1. I’d love this, but with a trackpoint … well, it’s hackable enough. 🤔 Maybe I should add it myself…

  2. Speaking of Nokia, that DIY keyboard sure looks like it came from an N97. I’m getting pretty nostalgic over here.