The PinePhone is a $150 smartphone designed to run free and open source software. For the most part that probably means users will run Linux-based operating systems that have been optimized for mobile devices, like PostmartketOS, Ubuntu Touch, or KDE Plasma Mobile.

But since the PinePhone is basically a cheap, low-power Linux computer, it can also run desktop applications such as Firefox, GIMP, or LibreOffice.

Now that the first “Braveheart” editions of the PinePhone are set to start shipping to early adopters, we’re starting to see what they can do — and Martijn Braam has posted a video showing a PinePhone running desktop Linux apps.

The user interface for these apps aren’t always mobile friendly — GIMP is practically unusable on the phone itself — there’s just not enough space for the app’s menus, tools, and workspace to fit on a phone-sized screen.

LibreOffice looks a little better, but without a mouse and keyboard navigation can be a little tricky.

Performance actually seems pretty good for both apps though, which suggests that if you could hook up an external mouse, keyboard, and display, the PinePhone would make a halfway-decent computer.

And since the PinePhone has a USB Type-C port that supports video output as well as power and data, that seems like a real possibility.

Braam also tried out the desktop version of the Firefox web browser, which works pretty well on the PinePhone. The user interface isn’t entirely optimized for touchscreen displays — there’s a thin scrollbar on the right side instead that you have to use rather than just sliding your finger up and down on web pages. But for the most part, the web browser seems to work well… and it could allow you to visit websites that might not be compatible with mobile web browsers.

Of course, the PinePhone isn’t just a pocket-sized Linux computer. It’s also a phone — and developers are working to make sure it works like one.

The folks behind KDE Plasma Mobile, for example, recently announced that they’re getting closer to being able to make phone calls on the PinePhone. Audio doesn’t work yet, but at least it’s possible to initiate a call.

The PinePhone features a 5.95 inch, 1440 x 720 pixel LCD display, an Allwinner A64 quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of eMMC storage plus a microSD card slot (which you can boot from).

It’s hardly the most powerful smartphone on the market — but it’s shaping up to be a surprisingly capable, versatile device despite selling for just $150.

If the idea of paying any amount of money for unfinished hardware isn’t appealing, you might want to wait until March, 2020 when Pine64 plans to begin selling the final version of the PinePhone.

Meanwhile another Linux smartphone project seems to keep running into snags.

It’s been almost two months since Purism announced it was starting to ship early batches of its $699 Librem 5 smartphone. But a few days ago the company announced that the second batch had been delayed by a few days.

So what about that first batch that already went out? According to a report from Ars Technica, all of those phones went to people who work at Purism.

It appears that has yet to ship a single phone to anyone outside of the company.

Purism still “expects to ship 5,000 phones by the end of Q1 2020,” but it’s hard to say how close the company is to meeting that target since nobody outside of Purism has actually used the phone yet.

via OMG Ubuntu



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10 replies on “PinePhone smartphone can run desktop Linux apps, also makes phone calls”

  1. Hardware kill switches that Pinephone have is extremely important security feature. This defense strategy , named ” unavoidable action”
    is not commonly used , but switches are placed on rear , not easily accessible .
    Using of those switches are almost the same like to take battery our of phone ( action that are done by majority of folks now, when need some privacy)
    Making them more handy , will help a lot.

  2. Pine Phone will definitely be the first to market. They’re better at hardware and Pine Computing is leveraging existing open source projects instead of trying to reinvent the GNOME wheel.

    Purism wasted a huge amount on unnecessary software development. They should have focused on their driver work instead.

  3. KDE Plasma Mobile UI looks awful and runs like garbage.

    Waiting for Sailfish or AOSP port.

    1. Funny, I really like the looks of the latest Plasma edition. But no capacity to make phone calls on my Pinephone so to me it’s useless. Phosh has not worked decently on my unit, with updates breaking the installation so that it wouldnt even boot, so now I’ve installed Lomiri and calls work right away.

  4. I’m really impressed with Pine64. The PinePhone is basically their original SBC in a phone format. A number of Linux variants run on their SBCs. Each should still work like a desktop OS when ported over to the phone and connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Take a look at to see what else they are doing.

  5. This would have been cool if it had a built-in keyboard and a mouse pointer. Too bad they’re not targeting UMPC use cases. I wonder if the f(fx)tec Pro1 that has a slider keyboard will ever get a Linux distro that could run desktop applications when you choose too.

    1. It’d be great if f(x)tec supported a Linux desktop distro and maybe create some simulated mouse pointer with the touchscreen. Unfortunately, based on this forum post, , they’re not officially working on it. I guess it makes sense given the startup needs to make sure the main use case of their first product succeeds.

      Maybe the user community could eventually get a desktop OS on it. We’ll see.

      1. That’s too bad. The Pro1 with its large display and physical keyboard would have made for a nice desktop OS handheld UMPC.

        I hope the Pro1 becomes a big success and maybe we’ll see people getting a desktop Linux distro on it at some point.

    2. Just as an FYI, the PinePhone does have i2c on the back for peripherals, including some proposing a keyboard.

  6. If you have to bet, bet on Pine getting to a shipped and working product first. They have more experience shipping basic AllWinner based product and with so many groups competing to be first with a software stack the odds of one of them actually getting one to work is pretty good.

    Heck, somebody could probably just bring up AOSP on the thing if they got tired of waiting for one of the more interesting “real Linux” projects to get calls working. Fairly sure Android is already working on other Pine products based on the same SoC so it would only be a matter of putting the bits in place to support the display, modem and other misc hardware.

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