Comparing specs of upcoming Linux phones

Oh boy! Now he won’t buy a PinePhone neither. Oh well…

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Oligopolies have flourished in technology due to startup costs and to problems with regulations. For telephony or cable add limited band frequencies and FCC and other ‘guidance’ requirements.
Whether chip manufacture, Social Media, ISP or other aspects of function, entry into the market can be frustratingly problematic. The business with platforms and distributions has been less as Software restrictions have been less problematic with licensing made more open for a good many.
There is a notable presentation by Librem’s CTO now available through yesterday’s news update segment and at 45 minutes it is lengthy, though probably worth the viewing to see how convoluted a nearly free license smartphone may be to work out.
Between limited supplies and needed patent releases as well as more including needed Chinese manufacture for anything new and unique and needing to be in queue for anything of limited manufacture quantity–given all of that, it seems to be a mega-headache to have gone through with the whole business.
I salute the process, though I still wish some of it was a bit more thoroughly communicated where appropriate.
Broadmi use clarified in talk to offer an M.2 card to some areas with no band coverage. Finally I got the answer to that question of more than a month’s wondering. If only Librem had noted that with the final specs, I might have avoided a good deal of confusion and frustration.


I don’t mind being an early adopter or I wouldn’t have ALREADY pre-purchased a librem 5, I don’t care for the gnome platform all at and it seems that most of the development is geared towards gnome. Having a useable kde plasma phone I can integrate into a desktop account is ideal to me and it doesn’t appear that’s going to happen initially on the librem.

Librem 5 - “making gnu/linux mobile-compute-devices hacker-friendly since 2019”

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I know it’s not a Linux phone, so it might be off topic but I’m curious how these stack up to the recently announced Fairphone 3. If it does ship in early October as their promising, it might be tempting for some of us who are stuck waiting until Q2 2020 or beyond…

The Fairphone 3 is 9.9mm thick vs 15mm in the Librem 5. The Snapdragon 632 (14nm) in the Fairphone 3 is more energy efficient and its CPU (4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A73 & 4x <=1.8GHz Cortex-A53) is roughly 3 times more powerful than the i.MX 8M Quad and its GPU is roughly twice as powerful. Because the Librem 5 will have to do most of its video decoding and encoding in software, the Fairphone will be cool when watching video, whereas the Librem 5 will run hot and drain the battery.

The resolution of the cameras in the Fairphone 3 is basically the same as the Librem 5, but the Fairphone will probably be much faster, because it has a digital signal processor and image signal processor in the 632, plus it has a dual pixel PDAF, so its auto-focus will probably be better (although we don’t know at this point, what camera hardware the Librem 5 will have.

The Fairphone 2 was able to be opened without tools, but it looks like the Fairphone 3 will require a screwdriver, so it isn’t as unique in its modular design, but it is also 1mm thinner than the previous version. The new translucent case is a nice touch. The Librem 5 will probably be a little more difficult to repair if you want to do something like change the screen or replace the battery, but the Librem 5 is the only phone in the world that allows you to replace the cellular modem and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth. Plus, the Librem 5 is likely to get over a decade of software updates because it is based on Linux, whereas the Fairphone 3 will have more trouble providing software upgrades, due to Google’s compatibility tests.

If you want a phone that just works, get the Fairphone 3. If you want the most interesting phone that has been released in a decade, get the Librem 5. I mean that literally. See my list of innovations in mobile phones. Despite the fact that its hardware is outdated, the Librem 5 will be one of the most innovative phones ever created.


Apples and oranges :slight_smile:
the difference you mentioned in OS is the main reason why anyone interested in L5 or any other Linux phone would look away. Android is the most intrusive OS and iOS is the most controlling, so people who want to truly own their phones and keep their communications private as possible , won’t nothing to do with these 2 Giants.
On the other hand, for the sake of the fairness in trade, repairability and environmental impact, I can see a lot of people being interested. Especially, given that majority will have to wait 9 months to a year to get L5 and Pine phone. But then, on a second look, $540;is a lot to pay for a “loaner” :slight_smile:
Also, what I find important when buying another Android, is the OEMs track record on OS and Security updates. If Fairphone supports it’s devices for more than 2 yrs , than it’s truly a great option for those who want to fight planned obsolence. Otherwise, it’s better sticking with the pixels and Android One series.


You brought up a good point when it comes to compatibility with updates for Android. It’s not just Google to blame there. It’s also the chipset manufacturers. There were multiple occasions when Qualcomm was unwilling to continue support and those phones even though capable, couldn’t run newer software.
With L5 we can have full confidence, because Purism has the “control” of hardware and software. This processor may be outdated, but we get to have full access to it. Thank God, Purism is committed to FOSS hardware where possible.


Unfortunately, I can’t update my original post, but we now have new dimensions from the Aspen batch of the Librem 5:


Purism’s Librem 5 page is (at the moment) stating they will deliver i.MX8M (Quad Core) max. 1.5GHz processor. Does this max. reference mean they are about, with batch Evergreen, to switch to Rev. 1.1 version of the 1.3GHz processor? This Rev. 1.1 main processor name is MIMX8MQ7CVAHZDB, and having CPU speed grade of 1.3 GHz (seeing this as advantage) with code: HZ. Note: i.MX8MQ7 requires a Dolby Vision™ license. Another eventual and good option with HZ abb. would be Lite version of the same processor (without Dolby - 12 bit depth), IMO. If Dolby license is blob (requires additional proprietary software, besides hardware) by itself than we might already have partial answer (on my obsolete Dolby question) related to Evergreen.

All above is based on kindly provided opinion/answer within this post:

Edit: Removed unnecessary comment on memory types.

P.S. Maybe short opinion on energy consumption of DDR3L-1600 memory for phone usage from @lperkins2, please.

I’m afraid I don’t know much about memory power consumption. In the systems on which I work, memory power consumption is so low as to be trivial. Lower speed will often have lower voltage, and always use less power, 1600 is toward the top end of ddr3 speed, but again, the power usage is likely to be fairly minimal compared to the radios, screen, and CPU.

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@lperkins2, thanks anyway! My question was not clear … more related to comparison of LPDDR4-3200, DDR4-2400 and DDR3L-1600, if there exists some room/advantage in order to extend battery life.

I can’t remember where but I think Nichole said the v2 cpu was going to have a die shrink from 28nm to 14nm and have better energy consumption and thermals, but other than that functionally identical.


Not 100% sure my scale is accurate but, for the birch batch weight:
231.3g (With 2000MhA battery)
187.6 g (Without battery)


Are all 3 of these phones 100% free software (excluding the locked radio devices)? Or is it just the Librem? I really don’t care what OS the phone runs as long as it’s not proprietary and as much as possible the other components use free software.

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Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part, but I think that Purism will need to increase the RAM and Flash memory if the company is going to charge $799 for Fir. At that price point, it is going to be hard to convince people to buy if they aren’t getting better specs.

Looking on the internet, I see that 3500 mAh Li-Po batteries weigh about 50 grams, so that gives us a final weight of 237.6 grams for the Librem 5.

I looked on’s phone finder, and these are the three closest models to the Librem 5 in terms of screen size and battery capacity:

  • Xiaomi Redmi 5, 5.7" 18:9, 3300 mAh, 157g
  • Haier I6, 5.7" 18:9, 3300 mAh, 145g
  • LG G6, 5.7" 18:9, 3300 mAh, 163g

If we say that a normal phone with a 5.7" 18:9 screen, non-removable 3500 mAh battery, sealed case, and integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GNSS and cellular baseband in the SoC should weigh about 170 grams, then the Librem 5 is 40% heavier than a normal phone.

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I can’t comment on the nueros but the pinephones software is just as open source as Purism’s software is. Both pinephone and librem have blobs they have to deal with but on the OS side both are FOSS

The Librem 5 is a bit closer to the ideal of 100% free software in my opinion.

The Pinephone has proprietary firmware for the Realtek Wi-Fi/Bluetooth in the /lib/firmware/ directory, whereas the Librem 5 has no binary blobs in the Linux files.
However, the Librem 5 has a binary blob to train the timing in the DDR PHY which is stored on a separate SPI Flash chip and executed by U-Boot on the separate Cortex-M4F core during bootup.

The proprietary firmware for the Realtek Wi-Fi/Bluetooth is larger and will be executing while you are using the phone, whereas the binary blob in the Librem 5 will execute for milliseconds when you turn on the phone.

I asked on the PINE64 forum and TL Lim told me that he believes that all binary blobs have now been removed from the Linux and U-Boot files for the Allwinner A64 processor, so that has improved.

The big difference in my mind is that Allwinner violates the GPL in its SDK for the A64 processor and refuses to answer questions from the community so they can develop drivers for the Allwinner hardware, so buying the PinePhone rewards bad behavior, because it pushes more revenue toward Allwinner. In contrast, NXP has committed code to mainline Linux for the i.MX 8M, so buying the Librem 5 rewards good behavior.

Realtek no longer violates the GPL, but Redpine Signals worked with Purism to provide a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth solution that didn’t require binary blobs in the Linux kernel. Before the only 802.11n solution for Linux that didn’t require binary blobs was a crappy Atheros chip that was energy inefficient, had poor reception, and required a binary blob to use the Bluetooth. Now every Linux hardware company will have the option to use the RS9116 without binary blobs, so in my opinion we should reward Redpine Signals by buying the Librem 5.

Buying the Librem 5 helps pay for the work to debug the mainline Linux drivers for new hardware. I see commits from Purism to the Linux kernel for the i.MX 8M, Goodix GT5688 5 Touch IC, BQ25895 charge controller, LSM9DS1 gyrometer/accelerometer, etc., so buying the Librem 5 is helping to add new hardware to Linux, rather than just using existing hardware which is already supported.


I was only referring to the cpu, but it is also my hope that fir will have more RAM. It needs at least 4-6 to be acceptable for convergance.

I only hope we have the extra energy headroom for it.


That would be REAL cool if the main SOC could be upgraded in the same case

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