The Purism Librem 5 is a smartphone that ships with PureOS, the same free and open source GNU/Linux distribution that ships on Purism’s laptop and desktop computers. The company first began taking pre-orders for the phone through a crowdfunding campaign that launched in 2017, began shipping hardware more than two years later, and then spent another four years scrambling to try to fulfill orders… with some customers waiting years for either a phone or a refund.

Now Purism says it’s finally reached shipping parity, which means that it’s caught up with its backlog and now if you place an order for a new Librem 5 phone, it should ship within two weeks. But it won’t be cheap.

Folks who orders a Librem 5 in 2017 were able to reserve a phone for $599. But the company has raised prices repeatedly over the past six years, and a phone with the exact same hardware now sells for $1,299.

There’s no getting around the fact that this is an extraordinarily high price for a phone with specs that weren’t even all that impressive by 2017 standards, including a 1.5 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of eMMC storage.

But the Librem 5 is unlike most modern smartphones in that it has a user-replaceable battery, a 3.5mm audio jack, a microSD card reader, and hardware kill switches that can disable the camera, microphone, and wireless radios when you’re not using them.

Since the phone ships with a GNU/Linux distribution designed for “convergence,” you can also use the Librem 5’s USB 3.0 Type-C port to run audio and video output to a monitor and basically use your phone like a tiny (and rather sluggish) desktop computer.

And Purism puts an emphasis on free software: the phone may ship with PureOS, but users are free to install their own choice of operating system on the phone. Purism’s development of the Phosh user interface, along with other software for the Librem 5, has also been instrumental in making modern mobile Linux a thing.

That said, it’s really hard to justify spending $1,299 on a phone like the Librem 5 today when you can pick up a PinePhone Pro for $399 or try installing a mobile Linux distro like postmarketOS, Ubuntu Touch, or Mobian on any number of other phones from Google, OnePlus, or Samsung.

But I suppose if you really want to support Purism’s efforts in the mobile Linux space, have $1,299 to burn, are comfortable with the phone’s dated hardware, don’t mind that there’s are a limited number of Linux apps optimized for phones, and aren’t troubled by the company’s tendency to deny refunds indefinitely, it’s nice to know that Purism is now promising speedier deliveries for new orders.

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  1. This phone was DOA back in 2017.
    Raising the price doesn’t make it better.

    Had they released the same phone, and said alright the phone costs $200 but we are also putting a +$400 charge for Linux Development… they would’ve been more honest and upfront, and likely had more fanfare. I could see people literally just giving them $400 donations if they liked what they were seeing. It would’ve set a precedence that, okay what if we raise it to +$500 donation and also charge you $500 for the phone but it comes with significantly new/better hardware. Again more transparent.

    Because at this point, the $1300 cost is for a $100 phone and $1200 donation. No Linux fan will take that punt. If it is not obvious, I am saying literally that Purism does NOT have a viable business model.

    Ideally, they should have made a Kickstarter and offered to port GNU/Linux to a commercial phone. Let’s say with a $500,000 barrier and a $200 cost to the backers. I doubt that would’ve been successful, but at least it’s honest and a much better deal for both parties than this $700 shenanigans or $1300 shenanigans. Think of it like SailfishOS but on steroids.

    1. So are a whole bunch of automotive manufacturers using DOA in-car PCs, which will likely still be supported by NXP into the middle of the next decade?

      People seem to be using the Librem 5 as a daily driver replacement not just for their mobile phones but also for their laptops, thanks to convergence. Purism’s next OS update, Crimson should provide some quite notable improvements too.

      1. I don’t know, but I’m very skeptical of your claims.

        You would be much better served getting something like a Google Pixel 4XL or newer device, something very cheap, then flash it with eOS or GrapheneOS.

        As for laptop replacement, just get a used old laptop. If WindowsOS isn’t your jam, replace it with your choice of Linux Distro.

        Purism Librem 5 literally serves no function, when even their most avid fans and niche cases can find BETTER -and- CHEAPER options.

        Their business model makes zero sense, and anyone paying attention noticed this back in 2017 and kept noticing even until today. The PinePhone may not be great, but at least it’s cheap and available… and even that’s a hard sell !

        1. The business model seems to be subsidization of open-source mobile development and targeting people who want the best smartphone form-factor hardware currently available with non-surveillance and non-Android derived based OS.

          GrapheneOS which currently demands Pixel phones seems a bit contradictory, i.e. it basically requires you to “invest” in one of the prime surveillance capitalism companies in order to evade it.

          I agree they should either explicitly say in their web-shop that the high cost is subsidizing development or at least explain why the non-US version is so costly compared to PinePhones.

  2. Sadly, support for the PPP doesn’t seem to be as strong as support for the PP was, or as steadfast as support for the Librem 5 is. Also, if Purism had spent money getting a developer to do what Megi has done with rk2aw, for example, you can bet that such work would have been released under GPL and mainlined…

  3. The Moto Razr+ is still on sale for $900… Which is probably the max asking price this phone as well as ANY flip foldable should start.

    Just saying, when you compare a decent Android to a $1300 Purism phone.

    1. “when you compare a decent Android to a $1300 Purism phone…”

      …you should factor into the equation that funding Purism helps directly fund development of mainlined Linux on mobile, as a significant amount of the work that makes Linux on mobile sustainable is being carried out by Purism.