Comparing specs of upcoming Linux phones


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.


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.


Patents eventually expire.


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.


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.


“GNU/Linux phone” describes the Librem 5. Only G might make people think of a very large technology company. But the Necunos lacks a cell connection, so calling it a GNU/Linux phone will mislead some. “GNU/Linux mobile handset” is more accurate.


People say “phone” when referring to their landline phone which can only be used in a single location, so I think it is fair to call the Necunos NC_1 a “phone”. Its primary purpose is to be used to call people. If you want to be more accurate, you would say “internet phone” or “Wi-Fi phone.”

The original idea for the Librem 5 was that it would be an internet phone like the Necunos NC_1, since internet telephony is more secure and has less data collection than cellular telephony. In a 2016 interview, Todd Weaver said the Librem phone would not include a cellular modem, but it would have a slot if people wanted to add it.

It wouldn’t surprise me if most mobile phones will become internet phones in a couple decades, as internet access becomes more common. At some point, Socialists are going to get elected on the platform of “public internet for all” and the economics are on their side. The current privatized telecoms industry is very inefficient and has negative social consequences, so I don’t expect it to continue in the long-term.


Years ago Att and Verizon started using VoIP for international calls because it’s cheaper and better. So yeah, it’s just the matter of time


Considering the price point of the pine64, the fact that the librem 5 may still be a month or more before shipping starts, it appears it has better LTE bands available, comes with KDE as default I may get one of those to start with as a primary until the librem 5 get to the point where it’s actually useable


Purism has a better track record than PINE64 when it comes to the software for their devices. I expect that the PinePhone will have software issues at first, just like the Librem 5. The big difference is that Purism has more software developers on staff to solve those problems over time, whereas most of the focus at PINE64 is on the hardware. It remains to be seen whether PINE64’s approach of relying on community projects (postmarketOS, KDE Plasma Mobile, UBports) for the software will work well, but I really hope that both companies will succeed.

If you don’t want to go through the joy/pain of being an early adopter who is helping to debug the software, you might want to wait to read the reviews for the PinePhone before buying.

I don’t mind being an early adopter, but I work at a software firm, so I kind of expect it. :slight_smile:


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


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”


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.