Comparing specs of upcoming Linux phones

To help people who are trying to decide which Linux phone to buy, I have created a table to compare their features. In addition, see this table comparing all 12 phone models that can be bought with Linux preinstalled.

Model PINE64 PinePhone (specs: 1, 2, 3) Purism Librem 5 (specs) Necunos NC_1 (specs)
Announced Feb. 2, 2019 at FOSDEM Aug 24, 2017 Nov 29, 2018
Shipping v1.1 “BraveHeart” on Jan 17, 2020;
v1.2 Community Edition: UBports in June 2020;
● v1.2a Community Edition: postmarketOS on Aug 25, 2020;
● v1.2b Community Edition: Manjaro on Oct 29, 2020
● v1.2b Community Edition: KDE Plasma Mobile on Jan 18, 2021
● v1.2b Community Edition: Mobian in mid-February 2021
● v1.2b Beta Edition (Manjaro/Plasma M.) in late April
● Birch on Nov 26, 2019;
● Chestnut in late Dec. 2019;
● Dogwood on Aug 3, 2020;
Evergreen (mass production) on Nov 18, 2020
Unknown (no update since Jan 24, 2020)
Price $149.99 + shipping for 2GB RAM / 16GB Flash
$199.99 + shipping for 3GB RAM / 32GB Flash / Convergence Package
● $249/$299 for future retail editions
● $799 + free shipping for Librem 5
(was $599 till 2019-01-31, $649 till 2019-07-31, $699 till 2019-12-31 and $749 till 2020-11-15)
● $1999 + free shipping for Librem 5 USA
1199 euros
System on a Chip* Allwinner A64 (40nm) NXP i.MX 8M Quad (Samsung 28nm) NXP i.MX 6 Quad (40nm)
  SoC
  announced
Jan 8, 2015 Jan 4, 2017 Jan 2011
  SoC
  released
June 2015 Jan 2018 Nov 2012
  SoC
  cost
$2 per chip in large quantities (originally $5 per chip) $35.49 per chip in lot of 2500 $59.97 per chip in lot of 1000
  SoC
  package
FBGA 396 balls, 0.65mm ball pitch, 15x15 mm FBGA 621 balls, 0.65mm ball pitch, 17x17x2.03 mm FCPBGA, 0.8mm ball pitch, 21x21 mm
  SoC
  benchmarks
Geekbench 3, Truebench, PassMark PerformanceTest Boundary Devices Boundary Devices, Geekbench 3, OpenBenchmarking, TrueBench
  CPUs 4x Cortex-A53, 64-bit, superscalar 4x Cortex-A53, 64-bit, superscalar 4x Cortex-A9 MP, 32-bit
  CPU clock 1.2 GHz (currently limited to 1.15 GHz) 1.5 GHz 1.2 GHz
  L1 cache
  per core
32KB instruction & 32KB data 32KB instruction & 32KB data 32KB instruction & 32KB data
  Shared
  L2 cache
512KB 1MB 1MB
  Secondary
  CPU
266 MHz Cortex-M4F, 16KB instruction and 16KB data L1 cache, 256KB TCM cache
  GPU ARM Mali-400 MP2 (Utgard) Vivante GC7000 Lite Vivante GC2000
  GPU
  announced
Feb. 6, 2008 April 3, 2014 2009
  GPU cores 1x geometry processor/vertex shader, 2x Pixel processor/fragment shader 16 Vega shaders 4 VEC-4 shaders / 16 VEC-1 shaders
  GPU clock 416-500 MHz (in other devices with same SoC) 800MHz at 0.9V (when DVFS is implemented, 1000MHz at 1.0V) 594 MHz
  GPU
  benchmarks
Notebookcheck, CNX Boundary Devices OpenBenchmarking, Vivante, Boundary Devices
  GPU specs ● Triangles/s: 267 million,
● GFLOPS 32-bit: 32,
● GFLOPS 16-bit: 64,
● GTexels/s: 1.6,
● GVerteces/s: 1.0
Triangles/s: 200 million
  APIs OpenGL ES 1.1, 2.0; OpenVG 1.1 (The free Lima driver supports OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0) OpenGL ES 1.1, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1; OpenCL 1.2; Vulkan 1.0 (plus OpenVG 1.1; OpenGL 3.0 and Direct3D 11 according to Vivante). (The free Etnaviv driver only supports OpenGL ES 1.1, 2.0 and OpenGL 2.1) OpenGL ES 2.0, OpenCL 1.0, OpenVG 1.1
  HDMI † SoC supports HDMI 1.4, up to 4K@30 SoC supports HDMI 2.0a, up to 4K@60 SoC supports HDMI 1.4, up to 1080p@60
  DisplayPort Not supported by SoC.
See “Video out” below.
SoC supports DisplayPort 1.3 (up to 4K@60) and eDP 1.4 (up to 4.32 Gbps) Not supported by SoC.
See “Video out” below.
  Video
  Decoding
● 4K@30: H.265
● 1080p@120: H.265
● 1080p@60: H.264, MPEG 1/2/4, VP8, AVS/AVS+
● 1080p@30: VC-1, JPEG/MJPEG
(The free sunxi driver supports MPEG1, MPEG2, H.264 & H.265 hardware decoding)
● 4K@60 with HDR: H.265, VP9
● 4K@30: H.264
● 1080p@60: MPEG 2 / 4p2, VC-1, VP8, RV9, AVS, MJPEG, H.263
(Can only find MPEG-2 and H.264 free drivers for the Hantro G1/G2 video decoders, so probably have to decode in software)
1080p@30: H.264, MPEG-2/4, VC1, DivX/XviD, AVS, H.263, RV10, Sorenson, VP8
  Video
  Encoding
● 1080p@60: H.264,
● JPEG baseline images: 8192 x 8192
(The free drivers do not support hardware encoding so have to use software.)
● No hardware encoding
1080p@30 (H.264) in software
● 1080p@30: H.264, MPEG-4, H.263
● JPEG baseline images: 8192 x 8192
  Audio 4 inputs, 4 outputs, 24-bit, 2 analog-digital channels 8-48 KHz, 8-192 KHz DAC 20+ channels in/out; 32-bit up to 384 KHz, with DSD512 support SSI block supports audio, up to 192 kHz in/out ESAI supports audio up to 260 kHz with 7.1 channel outputs
  Camera
  interface
MIPI YUV422 8-bit parallel interface
● Max video capture: 1080p@30
● Max still image: 5MP
2 x MIPI CSI-2 (4-lane)
● Max bit rate: 1.5 Gbps (per lane?)
MIPI CSI-2 (4-lane, up to 20bit, up to 240MHz)
● Max bit rate: 800 Mbps per lane in 4 lane mode or 1 Bbps in 1/2/3 lane mode
  USB USB 2.0, OTG 2 x USB 2.0 or 3.0 3 x USB 2.0, OTG
RAM Artmem ATL3A1632H12A 2 GB LPDDR3-1600 800MHz
(The A64 supports a max of 3GB DDR3-1333 at 666.5MHz, but the max LPDDR3 clock is unspecified and the PinePhone distros are using RAM speeds between 552 and 624 MHz.)
Micron MT53B384M32D2NP-062 WT:B 3 GB LPDDR4-3200 (SoC supports up to 4GB LPDDR4-3200) 1 GB (SoC supports DDR3, DDR3L, LPDDR2)
Flash memory Kimtigo KM111SS0016GxA-DDD00WT 16GB TLC eMMC 5.1 (the A64 only supports up to eMMC 5.0) Kioxia (formerly Toshiba) THGBMHG8C2LBAIR 32 GB NAND Flash eMMC 5.1 (the i.MX 8M Quad only supports up to eMMC 5.0) 8 GB (SoC supports both eMMC 4.4 and UHS-I SDR104 at max of 104 MB/s)
Display Xingbangda XBD599 5.99″ IPS LCD, 720x1440 pixels, 16M colors, hardened glass Mantix MLAF057WE51 X 5.7″ a-Si TFT LCD, 720×1440 pixels, 16.7M colors, 282 PPI, 1500:1 contrast ratio, 90% sRGB, MIPI DSI, included plastic screen protector 5.0" (attached or detached)
Cellular baseband Quectel EG25-G (soldered to logic board) Thales Cinterion PLS8-E / PLS8-US or BroadMobi BM818-E1 / BM818-A1 / BM818-T1 on a M.2 3042 B key card (via USB 2.0 and I2S) None for security reasons
Supported bands GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
WCDMA: B1, B2, B4, B5, B6, B8, B19
LTE-FDD: B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B7, B8, B12, B13, B18, B19, B20, B25, B26, B28
LTE-TDD: B38, B39, B40, B41

● VoLTE supported.
PLS8-E:
GSM: 900, 1800 MHz
WCDMA: B1, B3, B8
LTE-FDD: B1, B3, B7, B8, B20
PLS8-US:
GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
WCDMA: B2, B4, B5,
LTE-FDD: B2, B4, B5, B17
BM818-E1:
GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
WCDMA: B1, B2, B5, B8
LTE-FDD: B1, B2, B3, B5, B7, B8, B20
LTE-TDD: B38, B40, B41(120M)
BM818-A1:
GSM: 850, 1900 MHz
WCDMA: B2, B4, B5
LTE-FDD: B2, B3, B4, B5, B12, B13, B17, B25, B26, B66
LTE-TDD: B41(200M)
BM818-T1:
GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
CDMA: BC0
HSPA+/WCDMA: B1, B2, B4, B5, B8
LTE-FDD: B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B7, B8, B28, B66
LTE-TDD: B34, B38, B39, B40, B41(200M)

PLS8 supports VoLTE; BM818 now supports VoLTE, but needs carrier configuration and/or whitelisting.
SIM 1 Micro-SIM 1 Nano-SIM None for security reasons
External storage microSD (SDHC, SDXC, max 2 TB), bootable microSD (SDHC, SDXC, max 2 TB, via USB 2.0 bus), not easily bootable from microSD
Back camera ª OmniVision OV6540, 5.0 MP, 1/4″, 1.4 μm pixels, max 2560×1920 photo, 1080p 30fps, 720p 60fps, LED flash, using MIPI 8-bit parallel interface Samsung S5K3L6XX 13.25 MP, CMOS, 1/3", 4224×3136 pixels, 4K@30fps, FHD@60fps, HD@120fps, f/1.9, 28mm, auto-focus: 10cm - ∞, 81.5° FOV, LED flash
(working on kernel support)
none.
Front camera ª GalaxyCore GC2145, 2.0 MP, f/2.8, 1/5″, max 1600x1200 photo, 800x600 and 1600x1200 video, using MIPI 8-bit parallel interface SK hynix YACG4D0C9SHC 8.0 MP, CMOS, 1/4", 3264×2448 pixels, QUXGA@30fps, FHD@60fps (crop), HD@90fps, focusing range: 28.9-65.0cm, 83.3° FOV
(working on kernel support)
none.
Sensors ● ST LIS3MDL accelerometer,
● Sensortek STK3335 proximity & ambient light (datasheet),
● TDK MPU-6050 magnetometer
● ST LSM9DS1 9-axis gyrometer, accelerometer & magnetometer,
● Vishay VCNL4040 proximity & ambient light
None for security reasons
Hardware kill switches 6 DIP switches under back cover:
1. LTE/GNSS
2. WiFi/Bluetooth
3. Microphone
4. Rear camera
5. Front camera
6. Headphone
3 switches on side of case:
● Cellular modem,
● WiFi/Bluetooth,
● microphone/camera
(3 together kill all sensors and GNSS)
Audio DAC 24-bit 8-192 KHz DAC in the A64 Wolfson Media WM8962
3.5mm audio jack Yes Yes (stereo out, mono mic) Yes
Speaker One 1 earpiece speaker, 1 loud speaker (case image shows speaker holes on bottom bezel) Two
Battery Li-Po 3000 mAh (same as Galaxy J7 battery), 5V 3A (15W) fast charge, easily replaceable without tools
(a 3500mAh battery in the same form factor is possible)
● Can boot without battery, but needs the battery to use the cellular baseband and WiFi/BT.
● Planned 6000mAh battery mod
4500 mAh 3.8V LiPo (2000 mAh in Birch and Chestnut, 3600mAh in Dogwood), easily replaceable without tools, fast charging up to 5Vx3A (15W), 9Vx2A (18W) & 12Vx2A (24W)
● Can run on USB charger without the battery.
3500 mAh (not soldered, but screen must be removed to replace the battery)
USB port USB Type-C, USB 2.0, USB Host (OTG)
[bug in v1.1 & v1.2]1,2
USB Type-C, USB 3.0 (150-170 MB/s), Power Delivery (PD), Battery Charging 1.2 and Dual-Role Port to charge other devices Micro-USB 2.0, data transfer disabled
Video out † DisplayPort alt-mode over USB-C (Analogix ANX7688 converts HDMI 1.4 to DP alt-mode, highest reported resolution is 1080p@60) DisplayPort alt-mode over USB-C (max 4K@60fps, using DCSS, TI TPS65983 converts DP 1.3 to DP alt-mode) DisplayPort
Wi-Fi Realtek RTL8723CS 802.11 b/g/n, single-band (2.4 GHz), hotspot Redpine Signals RS9116 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4 & 5 GHz via SDIO 2.0 on a M.2 2230 E Key card WiFi (via SDIO) WF1801, single band (2.4GHz)
Bluetooth 4.0, A2DP 5.0 (only Bluetooth 4 verified), via I2S and SDIO 2.0
NFC No.
● Planned NFC mod
No
GNSS Quectel EG25-G (GPS, A-GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, BeiDou, QZSS) STMicroelectronics Teseo-LIV3F (GPS, A-GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, BeiDou, QZSS) (via UART2) None for security reasons
Vibration motor Yes Yes
FM Radio No No
Case ● Matte black plastic case
● Phone structure is also plastic.
Dark grey plastic back cover
● Aluminum outer frame
Aluminum
Dimensions (mm) 160.5 x 76.6 x 9.2 153 x 75 x 15.5 (150mm long in Birch-Dogwood)
Weight ● v1.1: ~192 g,
● v1.2: 185 g.
● Evergreen: ~260 g (76 g in 4500mAh battery)
● Dogwood: 240 g (62 g in 3600mAh battery)
● Chestnut / Birch: 230 g (2000mAh battery)²
OS 18 ports so far:
Ubuntu Touch (Lomiri§),
postmarketOS (Phosh§, Plasma Mobile, i3wm, Kodi, Mate, Sway, Xfce4)
Mobian (Phosh§, xfce4, lxde, jwm, openbox),
LuneOS (Luna Next),
SailfishOS (Silica),
PureOS (Phosh),
Fedora (Phosh),
Arch Linux (Phosh),
● Manjaro (Phosh§, Plasma Mobile§, Lomiri),
Maemo Leste (Hildon),
Nemo Mobile (Glacier),
KDE Neon (Plasma Mobile§),
NixOS (Phosh),
Sxmo,
openSUSE (Phosh),
AVMultiPhone (Mate),
GloDroid (Android)
Gentoo (Phosh)
OpenMandriva Lx (Plasma Mobile)
(PINE64 gives $10 donations to the distro for each sale of a Community Edition or back cover.)
§ preinstalled in CE or Beta
● PureOS with Phosh,
● PureOS with KDE Plasma Mobile (little progress),
● UBports’ Ubuntu Touch (little progress),
postmarketOS (Phosh, Plasma Mobile, others?),
Mobian with Phosh
Choice of:
● no OS,
● Debian (Plasma Mobile),
● postmarketOS (Plasma Mobile),
● Maemo Leste,
● Nemo Mobile,
● LuneOS
(A donation will be made to community providing the OS)
Apps
Depends on OS.
● Ubuntu Touch supports QLM and HTML5 apps, which can downloaded through the OpenStore. Android apps can be run in Anbox and desktop apps in Libertine containers.
PureOS/Phosh supports GTK, Qt/QML and web apps, which can be downloaded through the PureOS Store with planned badges for freedom, privacy, security and ethical design. Anbox can be installed to use Android apps.
● List of apps: 1, 2, 3
Where assembled Shenzhen, China ● DevKit: San Diego area, California,
● Librem 5: Shenzhen, China,
● Librem 5 USA: in USA (probably San Diego area).
Finland
Security & Privacy ● All chips use serial protocols (USB 2, SDIO, UART, I2C) that don’t allow direct memory access (DMA).
● All code in the root file system can be audited except 3 Realtek WiFi/BT firmware files.
● Ubuntu Touch sandboxes apps according to their AppArmor config file to specified directories and hardware access has to be authorized by the user or AppArmor.
● All chips use serial protocols (USB 2.0/3.0, SDIO, UART, I2C) that don’t allow direct memory access (DMA)
● All code in the root file system is FOSS and can be audited.
● Sandboxing of apps with flatpack and bubblewrap.
End-to-end encryption for messaging over XMPP (and Matrix as well?).
● 3FF smart card slot (2FF in Birch & Chestnut) and 80MHz Cortex-M4 STM32L432KC controller, so an OpenPGP card can be installed for secure cryptographic operations. (Future plans to use free firmware in Cortex-M4.)
Software kill switches to turn off GNSS while using cellular modem and turn off individual sensors.
● Publishes schematics and x-rays and will offer anti-interdiction services to detect tampering and inserted spy chips.
Looking into implementing the Librem Key for tamper-evident booting.
Other features ● RGB status LED.
6 pogo pin connector to I2C bus, so that mods can be added by changing the back cover.
● Planned mods:
- NFC
- physical keyboard & 6000mAh battery,
- Qi wireless charging & fingerprint reader
● RGB front LED (with PWM control per color).
20 test points for boot modes, UART, JTAG and USB under back cover
● Extra programmable button,
● 100 Mb/s Ethernet jack
Boot order Boots from 1. microSD card, 2. eMMC
(unclear if booting from USB is enabled)
u-boot starts from eMMC or USB (uuu) while holding down Volume Up.
(Can chain boot from microSD with jumpdrive after USB boot.)
Longevity & Fixability ● Promises to produce the phone for 5 years.
Adding hardware to mainline Linux kernel so easier to support long-term.
● Battery (same size as the Galaxy J7) can be bought from many sources.
● No glue and easy to disassemble with screwdriver.
● Sells economical replacement parts.
● Outsourcing the OS to many communities means there will always be some group providing software updates.
● Promises “lifetime support” in software updates.
● Designed to avoid planned obsolescence
● NXP promises to produce the i.MX 8M Quad until Jan. 2033 so can expect updates.
● No glue and only Philips screws, so easy disassembly, but screen and frame are one unit.
● Sells replacement battery & BM818 modem.
● CTO Nicole Faerber says "since we are in direct contact with the factory we can (and will) stock spare parts and will try find ways to make most of the parts replaceable. But I can not promise this for all and everything."
● Upstreaming code (1,2,3) when possible for better long-term support.
● WiFi/BT and cellular modem can be upgraded to support different standards and regions, but not 5G due to increased power requirements & different mmWave antennas.
Free/open source software All FOSS in the Linux file system except 3 proprietary firmware files in /lib/firmware/ for Realtek RTL8723CS WiFi/Bluetooth. There is optional auto-focus firmware for the OmniVision OV5640 back camera, but it is not used by any of the ports. Goal to be the first phone to receive the FSF’s Respects Your Freedom certification for 100% free software that executes on main CPU cores. There will be proprietary firmware in components (Wi-Fi, cellular baseband, etc.) which don’t need to be updated and proprietary code to initialize DDR4 by U-Boot will be moved to a separate SPI Flash chip and executed on the Cortex-M4F core. Will have binary blobs, but no proprietary firmware will have memory access. According to the FAQ, Necunos is considering trying to obtain FSF’s Respects Your Freedom certification, so probably only has blobs for U-Boot that can be moved to a separate ROM.
Free/open source hardware PINE64 publishes the PCB schematics in PDF (v1.0 Dev, v1.1 BraveHeart, v1.2 CE: UBports, v1.2a CE: postmarketOS), PCB silkscreens, and 3D .stp file for the back cover for 3rd party production of mods and cases, but there is no free/open license to reuse or modify them. The PCB schematics in PDF (DevKit, Birch, Chestnut, Dogwood) are published under the GPL 3.0+, as required by Purism’s SPC charter, as well as the KiCAD schematics files for the DevKit, which was designed with free software tools.
● CEO Todd Weaver says that Purism needs to recover its development costs before releasing the Gerber files, which they are “thinking about releasing in a time capsule” of “3 years, 5 years, something like that.”
● Purism released the OpenSCAD and STL files for the case, battery, modem and screen mount.
Other chips The more important chips in the PinePhone component list are:
● X-Powers AXP803 power management IC,
● SGMICRO SGM3140 LED flash driver,
● Goodix GT917S touch controller
● Analogix ANX7688 HDMI to USB-C bridge
● Sitronix ST7703 MIPI LCD driver
The more important chips in the Librem 5 component list are:
● TI TPS65982 USB Type-C and USB PD controller,
● Goodix GT5688 Touch IC,
● ROHM BD71837AMWV power management IC,
● TI LM3560 Synchronous Boost Flash Driver for camera,
● TI BQ25895 I2C charge controller (supports up to 14V & 3.25A),
● Maxim Integrated MAX17050 battery monitor,
● Microchip USB2642 USB 2.0 Hub and Flash Media Card Controller
Included in the box ● USB-A to USB-C red cable ● USB-C Power Delivery charger with folding US-type plug, supports up to 5Vx3A (15W), 9Vx2A (18W) & 12Vx1.5A (18W)
● 2 electric plug adapters for international use
● USB-C to USB-C cable, 3 feet (92 cm) long
● Wired earbuds with call/volume controller and 3.5mm TRRS jack, 50 in (127 cm) long
● Ejector pin for the SIM/microSD tray
Quick Start Guide booklet
Mobile phone innovations ● First phone where the maker outsources all software to multiple community OS projects.
● Ported to more Linux distros and more environments (8 interfaces) than any phone ever produced.
● First phone with physical switch to convert the headphone jack into a UART serial port.
● First smartphone to promise 5 years of production.
● Second phone maker (after OpenMoko) offering booting from a microSD card.
● First phone with easily-accessible hardware kill switches.
● First phone with replaceable cellular modem and Wi-Fi/ Bluetooth (on two M.2 cards).
● First phone with smart card reader (for 3FF OpenPGP card).
● First phone with 100% free/open source software in principal file system.
● First convergence as PC based on using adaptive classes (libhandy) to downsize desktop software to run on a mobile interface (as opposed to using separate software or upsizing mobile apps).
● First phone to promise lifetime software updates.
● Third phone maker (after OpenMoko and Golden Delicious) offering free/open source PCB schematics.
Reasons to buy ● Economical and good value for money, because software development is outsourced to the community (volunteers), adapted from its existing A64 board design, and selected older components with existing mainline Linux support.
● Linux phone most ready for daily use today with 24 hours of battery life with the modem on.
● PINE64 designs its hardware in collaboration with the community and CEO TL Lim responds to community feedback.
● Pine64 supports community software development with a $10 donation per phone to the OS projects and the hardware helps projects attract more volunteers.
● Support a company that is transparent, community-based, and doesn’t over-promise in its PR.
● Good for tinkering and DIY projects with schematics and larger community for help.
● Good for creating mods with I2C pogo pin connector, .stp back cover file, and 5 years production on a common A64 platform shared by the PinePhone, PineTab and PINE A64-LTS.
● Proven track record of supplying economical replacement parts.
● Commitment to 100% free software and one of the few companies that produces new hardware and aligns with the FSF.
Social Purpose Corp.[1,2] that promotes digital rights to privacy, security and freedom over profits and produces free software and free hardware.
● Goal to drive change up the supply chain by working with good component suppliers that take feedback and will work for free software compatibility.
● Help pay for development costs of GTK/Phosh and adaption of GTK desktop apps, so that the GNOME ecosystem can be used on mobile devices, which lowers the long-term maintenance costs.
● Help pay for new components (i.MX 8M, LM3692x, MAX17055, LSM9DS1, BQ25890) to be added to mainline Linux.
● Trying to fight planned obsolescence with 1. lifetime software updates, 2. upstreaming code to parent projects for long-term support, 3. using a well-maintained GTK/GNOME stack, 4. replaceable WiFi/BT and cellular modem on M.2 cards, and 5. an SoC manufacturer that promises production till Jan. 2033 and contributes to the mainline Linux kernel for future updates.
● Better privacy with accessible hardware kill switches with lockdown mode to turn off all sensors, software switches, an OS and web browser preconfigured for privacy, and optional Librem One web services, and optional AweSIM privacy cellular plan.
● Better convergence for use as a PC due to use of existing GTK/GNOME desktop software, faster USB 3.0 port, better graphics performance and better video out.
● The i.MX 8M Quad is better than the Allwinner A64: 30% faster CPU clock speed, 140% faster RAM standard, 140% better OpenGL performance, USB 3.0 and support for higher resolution cameras.
● Long-term goal to produce phones for non-technical users that are preconfigured for privacy/security and apps from the PureOS Store with easy-to-understand badges and Librem One web services, so normal users don’t have to give up convenience to get privacy and freedom.
● Assembled in Finland.
● Extreme focus on privacy/security and company has provided workshops for journalists to protect their privacy.
● Can provide customized security phones for corporate clients.
● Good community collaboration and donation to the OS project providing the software for each phone sold.
Phone benchmarks Benchmarks Benchmarks
Reviews v1.1 BraveHeart:
AndroidAuthority (2019-11-28), Drew DeVault (2019-12-18), danct12 (2019-12-20), Linux Experiment (2020-03-28), M. Higgins (2020-04-17)
v1.2 CE: UBports:
boilingsteam (2020-07-02), AndroidPolice (2020-08-13)
Birch:
azdle.net (2019-11), TheLinuxGamer (2019-12-21)
Chestnut:
ArsTechnica (2020-01-24), TechRepublic (2020-03-16), TechTelegraph (2020-03-16), MakeUseOf (2020-04-30)
Dogwood:
TheLinuxGamer (2020-08-28)
Future versions Original specs said 16-64 GB storage, so maybe a future version with 64GB.
● The next SoC for the phone is the RK3566, based on the Quartz64 SBC.
Fir batch with the 1.8GHz i.MX 8M Plus (Samsung 14nm LPC FinFET) is planned after Evergreen.
● A tablet based on the Librem 5’s design is planned “once we have the Librem 5 in a stable state, i.e. continuously shipping.”

* All specs for the SoC in italics are what the SoC supports, but there may not be FOSS drivers, configuration, thermals, or other hardware to use it.

HDMI alt-mode over USB-C is generally not supported by the electronics industry. To connect to an HDMI monitor, use a USB-C to HDMI adapter cable (all such cables on the market contain circuitry to convert from DisplayPort alt-mode to HDMI).

ª Listing the max photo and video resolutions supported by the image sensors, but these will be limited by the processing power of the SoC, the speed limit of the camera interface, and the capability of the FOSS driver and camera app.

The A64 in the PinePhone has a hardware video encoder for H.264 1080p at 60fps, but it isn’t supported by the free drivers. Martijn Braam at postmarketOS has created a Python script to take photos and 1080p video at 15fps using software encoding. The A64 Datasheet says the camera’s “CSI” interface supports up to 1080p at 30fps video, but it is actually an 8-bit parallel interface, and PinePhone firmware developer megous comments:

1080p@30fps is not attainable on the parallel interface, at least not with the cameras that are in the phone. It would require ~120MHz clock, and communication starts to break down at around 60-70MHz.

The Samsung 13MP image sensor in the Librem 5 is capable of capturing 4K video at 30fps, but the i.MX 8M Quad has no hardware video encoder and its documentation indicates that it is only capable of encoding 1080p video at 30fps in software. The Purism developers are still working on kernel support for the front and back cameras. Purism created a mockup of a future camara app for the Librem 5, but will probably have to adapt the Megapixels app, which was designed for the PinePhone.
 

PinePhone photos:

  • PhonePhone v1.2a Community Edition: postmarketOS (source):

  • Desktop dock in the PinePhone Convergence Package (2 USB ports, HDMI and ethernet):

  • PinePhone v1.2 Community Edition: UBports (source):

  • 6 pogo pins for adding mods, 6 DIP kill switches, Quectel GC25-G cellular modem and SIM slot in PinePhone v.1.1 BraveHeart (source):

  • Side view of the PinePhone v.1.1 BraveHeart (source):

  • Front side of main PCB in PinePhone v1.1 BraveHeart (source):

  • PCB in PinePhone with heat spreader (source):

  • PinePhone’s main PCB, USB-C daughter board and back of LCD (source):


 

Librem 5 photos:

  • Chestnut with Phosh (source):

  • Side view of power, volume up and down rocker button in Dogwood (source):

  • Hardware kill switches and SIM + microSD tray on side of Chestnut (source):

  • Dogwood with the back cover removed (source):

  • Back side of Dogwood showing main PCB and white speaker box over USB-C daughter board (source):

  • Dogwood’s main PCB (source):

  • Dogwood’s heat spreader and thermal paste between the LCD and main PCB (source):

  • Both sides of Dogwood’s PCBs (source):

  • Unboxing Evergreen by “amarok” (source):

Evergreen with back cover off
Evergreen side view with hardware kill switches Evergreen side view with power and volume buttons

UPDATES:

  • 2020-06-23: Reopened the post as a wiki and updated the PinePhone and Librem 5 specs.
  • 2020-06-25: Added “Reasons to buy” section and feedback from the Pine64 forum.
  • 2020-07-02: Added photos and updated the camera specs in the PinePhone.
  • 2020-07-07: Changed from “Gemalto PLS8” to “Cinterion PLS8” and updated links.
  • 2020-07-12: Changed L5’s battery to 3600 mAh.
  • 2020-07-29: Added 12V fast charging for L5, photo of Dogwood, photo of CE: postmarketOS, and more OS info for PinePhone.
  • 2020-07-30: Added “Video out” section and fixed info about HDMI and DisplayPort.
  • 2020-08-06: Added @dos’s corrections, L5’s cameras and L5’s USB Power Delivery.
  • 2020-08-24: Added link to table comparing 12 Linux phones and clarified PinePhone’s RAM speed.
  • 2020-09-01: Added phone benchmarks.
  • 2020-11-17: Added 4500mAh battery and BM818-T1 modem.
  • 2020-11-18: Added Evergreen info and photos, “included in the box” and Megous’ info on the PinePhone.
  • 2021-03-19: Changed PinePhone mods and added “boot order”, photo of Evergreen PCB, and future PinePhone retail editions
59 Likes

Thanks! Wow, now the L5 looks like a great deal compared to the others (it already is). :stuck_out_tongue:

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Thanks for catching that. I have corrected it.

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Wow! Great phone that Librem 5. Glad I ordered one.

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So also the wifi will have blobs? I understand about cellular to be isolated but i don’t think wifi could be isolate too, or i’m wrong?

Purism is controlling the RS9116 over SDIO 2.0, so no direct memory access like with the PCIe bus (which most other devices use to access Wi-Fi/Bluetooth). Purism says that it won’t have any blobs in the Linux kernel or U-Boot, but there will be proprietary firmware installed in the components.

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Thank you very much for the comparison, it is very helpful.

I didn’t know the NC_1, but I don’t see it as a very interesting device. In addition, the price is abusive. Why does it cost so much (much more than Librem 5)?

My idea is to buy the Pinephone when it is on sale this year. The price is very attractive and is a good phone to start messing with.

In the case of Librem 5, I will wait for it to go on sale when it is already manufactured. Maybe I’ll wait for a more powerful second version.

This Necunos shouldn’t be on this comparison list. Or the title should be worded differently.
No basebands for “security reasons”? Ok, then it’s not a phone. They can call it “Communicator” / WiFi VoIP Media Player, etc.

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I agree that it is misleading to call it a phone, given that it looks like a smartphone. Necunos’ press release calls it a “smart mobile device”

However, a few people have discussed removing the cell modem from the Purism 5 to make it into a WiFi only device. Purism calls their phone a IP-native mobile handset, which means that while the cell modems are designed to do normal cell phone voice calls and text, we could just use the cell modem for data only and receive voice calls via VoIP over the top of the cell data network and through WiFi when available.

“Linux smart mobile handsets” might be a more accurate label, although it sounds unconventional and wordy.

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The first production run for the NC_1 was 500 devices, whereas Purism is producing 10k, so you have a lot more overhead costs per unit, plus Necunos is assembling in Finland, which is very expensive compared to China. I think that the people who pre-ordered the NC_1 want a mobile Linux device company focused on security to exist in Europe. If Necunos doesn’t manage to ship soon, however, I can’t see the company managing to survive, because Purism will take its niche market.
However, Necunos plans to also offer a custom commercial version of the NC_1, and Necunos might be able find enough companies that have special security needs and need customized devices.

I predict that the second version of the Librem 5 will have more RAM and Flash memory, but it will probably use the same SoC. I don’t think that Purism will switch to the i.MX 8M mini despite the fact that it is more energy efficient, because it has a less powerful GPU and little video out, so it won’t work well for convergence as a PC, which is one of the goals of the Librem 5.

Maybe Purism can switch to Rockchip in the future now that the Lima drivers have improved, but it sounds like the future RK3588 won’t use the standard Mali GPU, so that probably won’t be a possibility. As I see it, Purism is probably stuck with the i.MX 8-series for the next couple years, so we have to pray that NXP will decide to either offer the i.MX 8M mini with a more powerful GPU/VPU or do a die shrink on the i.MX 8M Quad.

If the better version of the PinePhone with 3GB RAM 64 GB Flash costs $250 or $300, I think that a lot of people will order it, but PINE64 expects users to solve a lot of their own problems. It will be a great DIY phone, but probably not a good phone for people who aren’t tinkerers.

The Librem 5 will be a thick brick (and probably require frequent charging), so people who want a normal sized phone will have to go with the PinePhone. PINE64 doesn’t have many software developers and is relying on the community to provide a lot of the software, so I expect that using the PinePhone will be a real challenge in the first year.

Here is how I would summarize it:
PinePhone:

  • Outdated SoC
  • Low resolution camera and can’t be improved due to the SoC
  • Economical
  • Software will be very rough and don’t expect much hand-holding from the manufacturer, but can get help from the communities providing the software
  • Slim case, so easier to carry

Librem 5:

  • More modern SoC (but still underpowered compared to today’s Snapdragon, Exynos and Helios)
  • Acceptable camera
  • Software will be rough at first, but it will improve, so will probably be good enough that a normal person can use it as a standard phone in a year or two.
  • Very thick, so only for people who don’t mind the large size
  • First phone in the world with replaceable Wi-Fi and cellular baseband
11 Likes

These go to a different category - especially from software perspective as they are not open to user (although there seems some effort to make Google stay away): Bittium’s (another Finnish secure coms firm) Though Mobile 1&2. What I find interesting, are some of the HW decisions. Physical aspects are impressive (water and shock proof), but cameras are slightly lesser quality etc. But the main similarity (and reason to mention here): physical button to affect sensors: a “privacy mode” that (if I’ve understood correctly) reduces accuracies (may not turn them off?). Interesting idea to compare to.

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The Librem 5 at $699 looks like a steal compared to 1550€ for the Bittium Tough Mobile 2. According to the description, the “privacy button” provides: “Hardware-based privacy mode for disabling microphones, cameras, Bluetooth, and reducing sensor sensitivity”.

If they went through the trouble of adding a separate Bluetooth chip, why not use a separate Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip?

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Doesn’t it just :slight_smile: But I’m pretty sure they target governments and affiliated orgs.

But I couldn’t find any specifics either on the buttons boyond that.

It’s fine for a first gen, i hope a librem5 v2 will be completly open

Unfortunately that is not possible. The only processor that doesn’t require a binary blob to set the timing in the DDR PHY is the POWER 9. There is no way to get that chip into a phone. It looks like SiFive’s RISC-V mobile processor (which is supposed to be ready in 2 years) will be even worse in terms of binary blobs since it uses a PowerVR GPU. The Rockchip RK3588 doesn’t look like it will use a standard Mali GPU, so there won’t be any free drivers.

Nobody makes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular modem or GNSS without proprietary firmware. The best that you can do is put it on a separate chip and use a bus that doesn’t provide Direct Memory Access (DMA). This stuff is so locked up in patents, that I doubt that any manufacturer will ever make any of these components with free firmware and reverse engineering the proprietary firmware is incredibly hard. If anyone tried to produce an open hardware LTE modem, they would be sued out of existence and the patent holders would never allow them to license the patents if they wanted to publish the code. Maybe you could take all of them to court and force them to license the patents under the FRAND laws, but the legal fees would drive you into bankruptcy.

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Like a steal?

it seems to me that your affirmation is rather exaggerated, considering the commitment to something totally new, the use of isolated hardware, the creation of non-existent software.
Mah!

Patents eventually expire.

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Patents do expire. When they do, the cell technology will be taken out of service. So it will not be possible to use those expired patents unless you start your own network and license the spectrum for use with obsolete technology. The only way to avoid this is to innovate in the open, and let the open technology replace the proprietary via superior functionality.

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20 years is a LONG time in a technology context. sheesh …

Agree needs better name. How about gnu-phone? (gphone for short). … Because it was the GNU project that started this all off. Linux only came later.

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