The PinePhone Pro is a Linux-friendly smartphone with a 6 inch FHD+ display, a Rockchip RK3399S processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. Priced at $399, it costs about twice as much as the original PinePhone, but it has better specs and should offer significantly better performance.

Pine64 unveiled the PinePhone Pro last fall and began shipping developer units in December. Today a PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition is available for anyone to purchase – just keep in mind that this is a unit aimed at early adopters and enthusiasts and may not yet be able to do everything you’d expect from a smartphone, especially since software for the PinePhone Pro is still pretty early in the development process.

The Pine Store will begin taking pre-orders for the PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition January 11, 2022 at 11:00AM Pacific and the phone will begin shipping to backers by the end of January (Pine64 notes that you’ll want to place an order by January 17th in order to make sure yours is shipped in the first batch).

As an Explorer Edition device, this will be the first version of the PinePhone Pro available to non-developers. But it also means there’s a small chance that there might be some hardware issues that haven’t been caught yet. And more importantly, there’s limited software support for the phone at the moment.

While there are currently more than 20 different operating systems that can at least boot on the original PinePhone, the list of PinePhone Pro operating systems is substantially shorter, although it does include popular options such as Arch Linux ARM, Manjaro ARM, the Debian-based Mobian, postmarketOS, and NixOS, as well as LuneOS (an open source continuation of  Palm/HP’s weBOS) and some other Debian-based operating systems. And operating systems that are available for the PinePhone Pro might not yet be fully optimized for the phone yet.

Pine64 notes that as of early January, 2022, outstanding software issues include inability to wake from suspend, lack of support for cameras, battery level reporting doesn’t work well, and audio quality isn’t very good during phone calls. But developers are working on all of those issues.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while the PinePhone Pro has better hardware than the original PinePhone, Pine64 plans to continue selling both phones indefinitely. The first-gen phone will continue to sell for $150 to $200, offering an entry-level option for folks that want to experiment with mobile Linux, while the higher-priced PinePhone Pro should offer a hardware experience closer to what folks would expect from a modern mid-range phone.

As for software, it’s still very much a work in progress. Developers of mobile Linux distributions have made a lot of progress in the past few years, but I still wouldn’t recommend most folks replace their Android or iOS phones with a Linux phone as their daily driver yet. Software is still less stable and there are fewer mobile-optimized apps. But battery life, sleep, resume, cellular connectivity, and camera functionality has gotten much better over time with the PinePhone, and many of those features should work out of the box with mobile Linux distributions for the PinePhone Pro.

Thanks to the recent launch of the $50 PinePhone Keyboard, you can also think of the PinePhone Pro as a $400 phone that can be used as a $449 mini-laptop.

Here’s a run-down on how the new PinePhone Pro compares with the original PinePhone, with upgrades marked in bold:

PinePhone ProPinePhone
Display6 inch
1440 x 720 pixel IPS LCD
Gorilla Glass 4
5.95 inch
1440 x 720 pixel
IPS LCD
SoCRockchip RK3399S
2 x ARM Cortex-A72
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 1.5 GHz
Allwinner A64
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 1.2 GHz
GPUARM Mali-T760 4-cores @ 500 MHzARM Mali-400MP2
RAM4GB LPDDR4 @ 800 MHz2GB or 3GB LPDDR3
Storage128GB eMMC16GB or 32GB eMMC
Camera (rear)13MP Sony IMX258
LED flash
5MP Omnivision OV5640
LED flash
Camera (front)8MP Omnivision OV88582MP GC2035
ModemQuectel EG25-G with global GSM and CDMA
4G LTE
GPS, A-GPS, GLONAS
Quectel EG25-G with global GSM and CDMA
4G LTE
GPS, A-GPS, GLONAS
WiFiAmpak AP6255
WiFi 5
WiFi 4
BluetoothBluetooth 4.1Bluetooth 4.0
I/OUSB 3.0 Type-C (power, data, video)
pogo pins
3.5mm headphone
microSD card reader
USB 2.0 Type-C (power, data, video)
pogo pins
3.5mm headphone
microSD card reader
SensorsAccelerometer
Gyroscope
Proximity
Compass
Ambient Light
Accelerator
Gyroscope
Proximity
Compass
Ambient Light
Barometer
ButtonsPower
Volume up/down
Power
Volume up/down
Hardware kill switchesCameras
Microphone
WiFi & BT
LTE modem
Headphones
Cameras
Microphone
WiFi & BT
LTE modem
Headphones
Battery3,000 mAh Samsung J7 form-factor3,000 mAh Samsung J7 form-factor
Charging5V/3A (15W)5V/3A (15W)
Dimensions160.8 x 76.6 x 11.1mm160.5 x 76.6 x 9.2mm
Weight215 grams180 – 200 grams
Price$399$149 / $199

Since the two phones are similar in size and both feature a removable back cover, a removable battery, and a set of hardware kill switches and pogo pins behind the cover, accessories designed for the original PinePhone should work with the new PinePhone Pro.

That means that in addition to the PinePhone Keyboard, the recently launched PinePhone wireless charging case, fingerprint reader case, and LoRa cases should all work with either phone.

But the new phone has a faster processor, more memory and storage, higher-resolution cameras, a higher-speed USB-C port and support for WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 4.1. And those features should make it a little more viable as a replacement for an iPhone or Android device… if you’re comfortable running work-in-progress software.

via Pine64

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16 Comments

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  1. Finally, I’ve been waiting for this phone. Always want to try something that isn’t Android and iOS. I saw a YouTube video of someone running GIMP from the vanilla PinePhone. That is what got me excited about the Pro version.

  2. I like the idea of an open source PinePhone, but without Mainstream apps like WhatsApp, Gmail or my bank’s app it’s kind of useless to me. PinePhone is still a niche device and I’d probably never use one as my daily driver.

    1. Odds are that there will never be native versions of those apps, but you can probably access some through a web browser and others by using Waydroid to install Android apps (which may defeat the purpose of an open source phone for some, but which will make it a lot more useable).

      That said, yes, I wouldn’t really recommend most folks use a PinePhone or PinePhone Pro as a daily driver. The main reason to get one now is to help test and/or develop the platform in the hopes that one day mobile Linux might actually become stable and versatile enough to become a viable alternative to the Android/iOS duopoly.

    2. You are totally missing the point. This is about embracing the deGoogling movement. People who use something like the PinePhone won’t even miss Android or Google.

  3. Are there any compatible batteries with higher capacities? Quick google search does not yield any results.

    1. Just look up “j700” battery on newegg, although I wouldn’t really bet on any of them having all 3500 mAh, which is the most anything there is willing to claim.

    2. You’re probably going to have better luck picking up a spare battery or two and swapping them out on the go. You’ll have to reboot the phone, but at least it’s an option since the back cover and battery are easily removable without any tools.

  4. You should bold the rear camera entry in the table since it is also upgraded over the Pinephone.

  5. Oh man. I really should pass this up for now because, while it’s definitely something I want, I already have a pinephone and another phone that works, and I’m not a programmer, and I think scalpers are jerks. But the store page now says it’s going to cost $600 after some point.

    1. Hi!

      This is not the phone for you. The Unimog is not a great daily driver but can become a good work truck. You’d want the phone equivalent of a Toyota instead.