When Purism first announced plans to build a smartphone that would run mainline Linux, the company set a launch price of $599 for the Librem 5 phone. But it took another two years for the phone to begin shipping in small batches. By then, it had received a $100 price hike.
In the years since then, Purism has raised the price several more times… by a lot. An entry-level Librem 5 now sells for $1,299 and customers who want a made-in-the-USA model can pay $1,999 for a phone that’s basically the same, but promises a “secure supply chain” for folks worried about buying phones made in China. And now… there’s an even more expensive model called the Liberty Phone. It has a little more memory and storage and a $2,199 price tag.
The Liberty Phone has the same display, processor, cellular modem, and software support as other models. And like the Libre 5 USA, it’s assembled in the US.
What’s new is that instead of 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, the Liberty Phone has 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Overall this is a $2,199 phone with the kind of specs you’d expect from a budget phone from a few years ago. It has a NXP i.MX 8M processor which was released in 2017 and features four ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores with top speeds of 1.5 GHz. And the phone has a 5.7 inch, 1440 x 720 pixel display and support for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3.
Other features include a USB 3.0 Type-C port, a 4,500 mAh user-replaceable battery, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card reader with support for cards up to 2TB.
And, perhaps most importantly, it’s designed to run mobile Linux distributions rather than Android or iOS. The phone ships with Purism’s own pureOS software but you should also be able to load other operating systems on the phone.
Or… you could buy a PinePhone 4 for $399 and get a faster processor and similar features including a 720p+ display, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Purism has done a lot for the mobile Linux ecosystem: without the company’s work, we wouldn’t have the phosh user interface or much of the other software that allows you to run mainline Linux on modern phones. And the company continues to support its phones with regular long-term software updates that make it more useable over time.
But Purism has a history of charging high prices for its hardware to help subsidize the development of its hardware + software ecosystem. And it’s honestly kind of hard to imagine why anyone would spend $2,199 on a Linux phone with such mediocre hardware when the PinePhone Pro exists.