Purism’s Librem 5 is a Linux smartphone that ships with PureOS, a GNU/Linux-based operating system with a user interface based on GNOME. That alone would probably be enough to make the phone stand out — but Purism is also emphasizing its privacy and security features including hardware kill switches that can disconnect the wireless components, cameras, and microphone when you’re not using them.

But… like most phones, the Librem 5 is assembled in China. And some folks worry that could be a weak link in the chain of security.

So Purism is now offering a new option — the Purism Librem 5 USA has a printed circuit board assembly that’s fabricated by a facility in the United States.

Buying the made-in-America version will cost you though: the regular Librem 5 sells for $699. The Purism Librem 5 USA costs $1999.

In a blog post, Purism explains that the new option is a “premium product for customers who are concerned about the hardware supply chain and want to support us as we expand our own US operations.”

The facility that manufacturers the PCBA for Purism is the same one that made the Librem 5 development kits that started shipping earlier this year, and which products Purism’s Librem Key security key product.

Note that while most of the electronics for the Librem 5 USA model are manufactured in the United States, the chassis comes from China, and the modem chip comes from Germany.

The Librem 5 USA is up for pre-order now for $1999, but it won’t ship until Q3, 2020.

But that’s not too bad when you consider the lead time on “normal” Librem 5 phones. Purism says that if you place an order now, you’ll receive a phone in about six months.

So far, Purism has only shipped a small number of phones to customers who opted to receive a rough-around-the-edges phone from the “Birch” manufacturing batch. Early reviews suggest the phone has decent hardware, but software that still feels unfinished (which makes sense, because it is).

Hardware-wise, the Librem 5 has the kind of specs you might expect from a mid-rang phone, including an ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core processor, a 5.7 inch, 1440 x 720 pixel IPS display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and dual-band 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

But it does have a microSD card reader, a headphone jack and a removable battery, as well as unique software and those hardware kill switches I mentioned above.

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7 replies on “Purism Librem 5 USA is a made-in-America version of the Linux smartphone (for nearly 3X the price)”

  1. There is no replacement for trusted supplier- it is absolutely not possible to make complete test of hardware , even huge companies like Intel are testing of about 5% of possible hardware bugs ( other 95% are checked by mathematical model only) since complete test is taking few years …
    Well , hardware kill switches can guarantee that you will not be recorded , while on “privacy ” mode …even if all other systems are broken.. But all conversations and personal data is in danger if there is hardware “backdoor” in your phone …but yes 1999$ looks high..

  2. a $2000 phone, really? This will suffer the same fate the RED phone did.

    1. The RED phone was a very different device made by a very different company aimed at a very different market. This is more of a thing Purism can assemble in the US from essentially spare parts of the normal overseas model. And it doesn’t live or die on the the promise of add ons, but on the made overseas version existing at all. Aside from that Purism appears free to make 10 or so at a time whenever the occasional defense contractor needs it to pass US cybersecurity audits (which are a new thing this year).

  3. I’d be surprised if they sold more than 100 units of these $2k phones. Niche within a niche.

    1. The Sony Xperia SailfishOS is a niche (secure software)
      Librem 5 is a niche within a niche (secure software on secure hardware).
      The USA version is a niche with a niche within another niche :\
      (secure software, on secure hardware, by secure manufacturing)

      1. It’s been six months, but I wanted to answer this particular comment. It needs to become a status symbol. People who have absolutely no need for a super secure phone (and won’t follow proper security protocol anyways), might want a phone that makes that kind of statement. I remember in offices in the 80s, managers would get the very best PC, even demand the best, when they were often the least likely to need or know how to use them. Apple has become the largest company in the world with this approach. “Some Guy” wrote that people hate viral marketing, but this is really the only chance Librem has (or had) For the public to recognize it, people who would never buy one, so that they might wonder and envy the people that get one. I’m surprised Some Guy doesn’t recognize this, because if were purely an adequately secure, Open Source, ethically sourced phone for its intended use- Kangal would be absolutely right. Too niche. The phone has to be a status symbol, even within just the techie elite, in order to sell enough continue the project. It doesn’t even have to be that good! This seems obvious to me after watching the rise of iPhone. Maybe it’s a tough concept for Open Source enthusiasts and the cybersecurity community to grasp.

  4. To add some context there has been a MASSIVE back and fourth argument in the Purism forums about the supply chain, but in particular the focus seemed to have been on the security of the modems, not the phone itself. Those so concerned would argue that, if they’re using the same modems, it’s still probably compromised.
    But this is…oh man. I can’t even begin to imagine the flamewars this move will start. I swear if it wasn’t for the physical distance separating all the people arguing about this phone all over the web, there’d be dead bodies over this. The vitriol has been that bad.
    You’ve got the “China is great/just give up and admit china is going to win” crowd vs. the “china sucks, rips everyone off, and/or violates human rights” crowd vs. the “america sucks, and spies on everyone way worse than china and actually does things to you with all that spying” crowd vs Purism devotees vs the rapidly growing “purism sucks and so does anyone who buys their stuff” crowd. Those crowds are divided into a bunch of political factions who all hate each other but hate some worse than others, and said factions can span multiple crowds, resulting in less than random, and far stronger anger, as well as frequent feelings of betrayal. The only thing they can agree on is the price sucks and we’ve been waiting too long. It’s not like purism is perfect, we’ve still got the phone in the state it’s in (they REALLY should have fixed the phone call issue before announcing this, and saved the announcement until Q2 2020 for that matter), among many other issues. Pruism has only made things worse with viral marketing which nobody likes unless the product is worth getting hyped over (it’s not), and I’m pretty sure they’re not the only ones viral marketing for or against the phone. Still the desperate need to escape from Google and the high price have made people into fanatics over it. But I don’t think any amount of desperation can survive everyone hating you for harboring it.
    Even though, who besides myself is getting hurt by me not demanding a refund? It’s not like most cell phones are made any more ethically. I’d even argue that the pinephone and librem 5 actually depend on each other more than people realize.

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