One of the nifty things about the PinePhone is that there are a series of pogo pins hidden behind the back cover that make it possible to add new hardware to the phone.
Individual hardware hackers have used those pins to add things like a thermal camera or a fingerprint reader. But, as revealed earlier this year, PinePhone maker Pine64 is also working on a series of official add-ons.
Now Pine64 says two of those accessories are on the way. A PinePhone wireless charging case is now under production and should be available for purchase by early February, 2021. And Pine64 has partnered with a keyboard vendor to produce an official PinePhone keyboard.
The keyboard design is inspired by the Psion Series 5, a PDA released more than two decades ago which earned a cult following for its keyboard which was large enough for touch typing despite the device’s small 5.6 inch display and pocket-sized dimensions (170mm x 90mm x 23 mm).
Pine64’s version will have a 5,000 mAh or 6,000 mAh battery to extend the phone’s run time and give the keyboard enough weight to keep the PinePhone from tipping over while you’re typing. It’ll connect to the phone via the pogo pins, which means you’ll have to pop off the back cover and replace it with the keyboard cover.
Pine64 says the keyboard will sell for around $50 when it goes on sale in late February or early March, 2021.
A lot of great feedback regarding the #PinePhone keyboard design in past 18 hours. Keep it coming.
Including some more renders to get you thinking 🙂 https://t.co/0giDFymFJX pic.twitter.com/f96M32oIzg
— PINE64 (@thepine64) December 16, 2020
The wireless charging case will also replace the phone’s back cover. But it’s a smaller accessory that only adds 2mm of thickness to the phone.
In addition to a Qi wireless charging coil, there’s room inside the new cover for other “add-on and accessory boards, such as for instance a LoRA module.” Pine64 hasn’t announced a price for the wireless charging cover yet.
Oh, and that third-party fingerprint reader I mentioned above? Pine64 reached out to the developer and they’re working together to create an official fingerprint accessory that uses a smaller, cheaper sensor. This project is still in the early development stages, so Pine64’s Lukasz Erecinski says it “may still be a couple of months” before it’s production ready. There’s no official word on a price or release date.
Update: A day after Pine64 published its December update blog post, fingerprint mod developer Zachary managed to get the new, cheaper fingerprint hardware working with the PinePhone. It’s now just a matter of time before an official accessory is announced.
This development missed the community update by just a day. Zachary got the production-viable fingerprint sensor to work on the #PinePhone! https://t.co/0giDFymFJX pic.twitter.com/RCv9tuWFxZ
— PINE64 (@thepine64) December 16, 2020
You can find more images in the Pine64 December Update blog post, where you’ll also find more details about other hardware and software developments involving the PinePhone, PineBook Pro laptop, PineTime smartwatch, and other products.
Here are a few things that caught my eye from this month’s update:
- Pine64-branded 65W USB-C power supplies using GaN technology are on the way, with an expected $25 – $30 price tag and an expected late January or early February release date.
- The third-party Amazfish app is a PineTime companion application that was originally designed for Sailfish OS, but it’s now been ported to run on other operating systems including Manjaro (on desktop or laptop computers or on the PinePhone). This brings us one step closer to having a free and open source alternative to the iPhone/Apple Watch or Android/wear OS ecosystem.
- More PineTab (tablet) and PineBook Pro (laptop) units should be available for purchase in 2021.
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