After shipping five different PinePhone Community Edition models, each with a different operating system and/or user interface pre-installed, Pine64 ended the Community Edition program this month. So what’s next?
A few things: Pine64 has announced that future PinePhones will ship with Manjaro Linux and the KDE Plasma Mobile user interface pre-installed. If you already have a PinePhone and want to try out that combo yourself, you can find the latest beta builds at osdn.
But users will still be able to boot other operating systems from a microSD card or install an alternate OS to the phone’s built-in eMMC storage. And Pine64 is looking into ways to continue supporting the developers of other smartphone Linux distributions financially, possibly by selling a set of $15 custom back covers and providing OS developers with $10 for each sale.
Those are just a few of the new PinePhone-related announcements from Pine64’s February update.
Here are a few other tidbits:
- Independent developers Konrad, Biktor, and Dylan continue to make progress in developing open source firmware for the PinePhone modem. While the ADSP firmware will remain closed source (so as not to interfere with “RF regulations or certifications,” the goal is to make the modem as open source as possible, with a Linux-based kernel.
- While the work on the modem is exciting from a software freedom perspective, it’s also good news for folks hoping for a more functional phone. One problem that has long plagued the PinePhone is that it’s slow to wake when phone calls are incoming. Sometimes you might not hear the phone ring at all before the call goes to voicemail. But developers are testing patches that could allow the phone to wake from suspend as soon as a call or text message comes in.
- Work on the official keyboard accessory is coming along. Designed to attach to the phone like a back cover and allow it to stand up like a tiny laptop, the keyboard will have a 6,000 mAh battery that provides up to 2 weeks of standby time, a USB-C port for charging (but not data transfer), and a keyboard layout designed for touch typing. The PCB and keycaps haven’t been delivered yet, but you can see images of a PinePhone with the naked keyboard case below.
With most PinePhone Community Edition models now sold out at the Pine64 Store, it might be a few months before customers can order a new model with Manjaro and KDE Plasma again. But the company did hint earlier this month that they could be available in April.