There are a couple of efforts underway to develop smartphones that run GNU/Linux software. But Purism’s Librem 5 might be the most ambitious.

It’s been under development for a few years, the company raised more than $1.5 million for the project during a crowdfunding campaign in 2017, and Purism started sending out development kits a few months ago.

Now the company says the phone is almost ready to go. The specs have been finalized. Software development continues. And… the release date has been pushed back a few months.

In a blog post, Purism CEO Todd Weaver says he’s confident the company can ship the Librem 5 to customers in the third quarter of 2019. It’s up for pre-order for $599.

Purism had been planning to ship phones in April, but Weaver says it took longer than anticipated to finalize the decision of which processor to use. Originally the goal was to use an NXP i.MX8M quad-core processor, but the developers ran into problems with power consumption and heat generation.

While Purism was considering a switch to the i.MXM8 Mini, NXP pushed out a software update for the i.MX8M Quad which resolved the issues, so that’s the chip that will be used for the Librem 5.

With that in mind, here’s the final run-down of the specs for this smartphone:

  • 5.5 inch to 5.7 inch HD display
  • NXP i.MX8M Quad processor
  • 32GB of eMMC storage + microSD card reader
  • Gemalto PLS8 3G/4GB modem (on a replaceable M.2 card)
  • TESEO LIF3 multiconstellation GNSS/GPS receiver
  • 9-axis motion sensor
  • Front and rear cameras (specs TBD)
  • Vibration motor
  • USB-C port
  • User-replaceable battery
  • At least one speaker
  • PureOS GNU/Linux-based operating system

Keep in mind that components were chosen in order to eliminate the need for proprietary software. You can definitely find Android phones with more powerful hardware and lower price tags. But you won’t get the hardware kill-switches that physically disconnect the microphone, camera, and WiFi and cellular radios. And you won’t get the same emphasis on free and open source software.

Purism has also released a brief video showing a dev kit in action, giving us an idea of what the phone’s software looks like on a phone-like device:

The Librem 5 isn’t the only Linux smartphone on the horizon. Pine64’s PinePhone is a dirt cheap option with a suggested price tag of $149. And at the opposite end of the spectrum is the Neconos NC_1, which is up for pre-order for $1360.

But Purism’s phone has been in the works for the longest time, the company has been actively developing software and issuing updates about its hardware plans, and it’s expected to feature more capable hardware than either of those phones.

It remains to be seen if this is a phone that anyone other than a hard-core free software enthusiast could love. But I suspect it may at least be that.

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3 replies on “Purism Librem 5 Linux phone release date pushed back to Q3, 2019”

  1. Disclaimer: I do not work for either Libre Software foundation nor “Open Source”. And the following statements were based only on personal experience.

    Free/Libre in software simply means malicious Free program. A Free/Libre program is verifiable to be healthy and legit program code by Libre Software developers. Proprietary software in the other hand are non-libre program codes. Since proprietary software not verifiable by the libre software community, it might hold malicious codes which will harm your computer/device and might steal your personal data. Proprietary software is either a malware or a possible malware. Libre software continuously and collectively monitored by the Libre Software community, hence you can rest assured that your Libre programs whether you paid for or got it for gratis, will be faithful for your compute needs.

    Since 1983, Free Software Foundation and GNU project drew a thick line between Libre and Proprietary Software. Thanks for FSF members and Dr. Richard Stallman guidance and speeches. In the other hand, the so called “Open Source” clearly allowed Malicious non-Libre codes in their software packages. None-libre source code simply can’t be verified to be malicious free program.

    The Revolution OS documentary shows clearly how “Open Source” Author allowed Proprietary software to be part of “Open Source” licensing including and not limited to Linux Kernel.

    Freedom is protected by its believers. The so called “Open Source” obliviously does not believe in users privacy and freedom. Dr. Richard Stallman had the future vision to see enough what could happen if he allows non-Libre codes inside the GNU OS project. The Linux Kernel developer Mr. Linus Torvalds did a good job by releasing the Linux Kernel under GNU GPL license. We all appreciate Mr. Torvalds contributions to Libre Software movement, but through time, Mr. Torvalds agreed with “Open Source” guidelines to allow proprietary software in the Linux kernel itself.

    As a result, a non-libre Systems such Android became spying smart devices exploiting our privacy. There are malicious and spyware codes spreed on non-Libre Linux distros such as Android more than all windows and Mac devices combined. So, how can we verify a non-libre program installed in our phone? We simply can’t verify it, it’s encrypted proprietary software. We are free to trust proprietary program by agreeing on its Terms and Conditions, but we can’t verify its code before agreeing. We all trusted our phones and computers at one point and the result was and still mega privacy exploitation.

    If you care about freedom, privacy, and your love ones read more about Free Software Foundation and Dr. Richard Stallman principles where Libre Software is respected and verified using a very powerful and precise GPL licensing against non-Libre and proprietary software exploiting acts which slave humanity.

    We hope this message find its way to the right people in “Open Source” especially the Linux Kernel lead developer Mr. Torvalds, to take for once the right action against privacy exploitation used by proprietary software, since “Open Source” allows it.

    Libre Software User

  2. It will be interesting to see if $1.5 million is enough to really get this project going with any momentum. It will need to be an ongoing project so I hope they didn’t burn through all their capital getting the first phone out the door. Hopefully that price tag includes some headroom for ‘profit’ revenue they can roll back into a better, cheaper version 2 effort instead of just leaving the first model as their best effort under a misguided interpretation of re-usability and repairability, which are absolutely critical principles, but should not be confused with a new company’s need to release a few models before it can expect to get to a more refined, usable product to allow the necessary wider appeal to make this a breakthrough, rather than niche, product.

    Eventually, users should not have to pay more for open hardware.

    Users should not have to pay a premium for repairability and upgradable / modular phones. It’s only the grossly irresponsible practices of the big OEMs that enforce this upon us. Throwing away all the rare earth metals and other materials every two years is not sustainable. Forcing the industry to go back to replacable batteries may not be the overall goal of a project like this but it has to be a result of it for the sustainability of our planet.

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