How long is the lifetime of Librem 5?

@amosbatto Your data is impressive, very thorough and well thought out of. Good work! I take it you are in the field?

I’m not concerned about the charge emissions calculations, as that goes for all, not just L5. The faster pace of changing phones is the real culprit and makes long lasting phones the heroes. I’m not sure how to account in a simple way the amount of differing reused/-sold phones, but anyway, the faster pace of new phones just moves the dotted android lines left [edit: and L5 even more to right, in theory].

The charging / use of power and use of network are something that could be measured, so data on that could at least be updated. Too bad we may never get good comparison data on production (to which I’d also like to add equivalents from organization: marketing, buildings and other organizational activities etc.). And such a complex whole may never be totally mapped, as you pointed towards, but I’ll take your approximations. L5 has some disadvantages to bigger players, but over time it still seems better (especially when including lifecycle and next phones).

Regarding your three points, I’d suggest adding to the hardware centric list also OS and software. They are a major component of keeping a personal information device operatinal and current. Secondly, I think over time it may be even possible to increase efficiency and extend battery life as well as minimize network usage (although, I also imagine networks will be used more heavily on apps). Also, an environmental conscious user should prefer using apps and data that reside in their device - which mostly aligns with security/privacy conscious approaches. One example is how screens go dark and save power. Nokia - once upon time - squeezed extra power saving from their lock screen clock display by changing the font: a hollow font lights up less white pixels (edit: could now only find clock) - even design choises add over time (although is minor compared what else can be done).

Although there might be difference between 28nm and 5-7nm, I’d also consider reliability of “cruder” (which sound funny to me as I’m talking about nm scale :wink: ) tech as an asset, considering reliability as well as probable longer lifespan.

For future… Should battery usege - and all usege for that matter - be differentiated to 3 to 5 profiles for better accuracy? One average does give enough of a picture, but if there is changing in use profiles over time, it would be interesting to keep an eye on. And people could see what difference changing habits makes. Although, at the same time, I recognize that might be a bit burdensome and there probably aren’t similar comparisons.

Thanks in advance for the spreadsheet. No hurry though, as shipments are a few months away, probably. I would like to see Purism make some sustainability report at some point (and perhaps recognize your contribution).

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I helped write a report on reducing e-waste back in 2006-7, which got me interested in the topic. I’ve been reading the LCA studies for electronics and ICT since then, mainly because I work at a company that makes an open source web application, so I’m fascinated/horrified by the environmental impact of my job.

Good point. The fact that most Android phone manufacturers only guarantee 2 years of security updates is one of the main reasons why Android phones are junked so quickly. Google only mandates that Android licensees provide 4 security updates in the first year after launch and 1 update in the second year. Most low and mid-range Android devices only get one major OS upgrades and flagships generally only get two upgrades. Google, OnePlus and Android One phones are a little better, guaranteeing 3 years of security upgrades and 2 years of upgrades. The best is Apple which supports its phones for 5 years. Fairphone sold the Fairphone 2 for 39 months and aims to provide 6 years of software updates, but the upgrade to Android 7 cost Fairphone 500,000 Euros and I doubt it will ever upgrade again.

Due to Google’s requirements and compatibility tests for Android in the Open Handset Alliance and the licensing of Google Web Services, it is very difficult to keep providing Android upgrades as Fairphone has discovered. Linux and unauthorized mods like LineageOS are the only way to make a sustainable phone. If Purism and PINE64 can prove the viability of mobile Linux, it wouldn’t surprise me if Fairphone switches to Linux in the future.

I was very surprised at the sheer quantity of network traffic that Android and iOS causes. Douglas Schmidt at Vanderbilt studied Google Data Collection and found that an idling Android phone sends 40.2 requests per hour and sends 4.4 MB of data per day to Google servers. In comparison, an idling iPhone sends 0.73 requests/hour and 0.76 MB/day to Google servers and sends 4.2 requests/hour and 0.63 MB/day to Apple servers. Then, think of the difference in network traffic between downloading a map once from Open Street Maps and having to download map data every day from Google Maps when you want to consult a map. Also think of the amount of network traffic you reduce by not having to download endless propaganda and not sending your data to trackers.

I would love to see the difference in network traffic and phone operating energy between someone using the Librem 5 + Librem One services and someone using Android + Google services. Not having to constantly wake up and send data to Google servers is going to improve battery life.

Other parts of electronics fail far sooner than silicon gates, so I don’t expect that we will be able to notice any difference between a 7nm FinFET and a 28nm planar chip in terms of lifespan as long as moisture doesn’t get into the chip package. This post covers the ways that silicon can degrade over time, but I don’t think that this is a serious factor in the lifespan of a phone. Modern SSDs with wear leveling are designed to last for over 10 years even with heavy use.

The one component that really degrades is the battery, which is why we need a Battery Charge Limit app for the Librem 5, like exists for Android, because limiting the depth of discharge and the max charging capacity can prevent battery degradation.


In case you don’t know it, the L5 should be capable of limiting charging

Long story short in the Librem5 we will implement a smart charger chip that can be controlled by software


It’s great that Nicole Faerber has studied the problem and is thinking about it. None of the phone companies provides software by default to set a max charge limit. I hope that Purism will include this, but even if it doesn’t, it shouldn’t be hard to implement if there is hardware support for it.

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I guess day one you can directly set it somewhere like


And then it should become a slider in the settings :wink:

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Any idea of the difference on reacting to moisture on those or would it ultimately be about something else? Better survivability of accidental nautical incursion would be a positive side-effect :slight_smile:

Wouldn’t thicker/wider mean better when mechanical forces (vibration, bending) are applied? Something that SSDs experience less than phones.

And the battery setting (with appropriate wisdom to use it right) needs to be added on someones todo-list (along with some other stuff from this thread).

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vibration, bending, thermal extremes and moisture can cause the solder joints and thermal paste to crack and break circuits on the board, but usually the circuits and gates inside silicon chips are not damaged. When a board is bent, the solder joints to the chips usually break rather than the chips bending with the board. If you recall “Touch Disease” on the iPhone 6, which was caused by bending, the chip itself wasn’t damaged and could be resoldered to the board. If you pull apart old electronics from the 1960s and 1970s, the ICs usually still work.


I think this is important and on my Galaxy S3 I am using this:

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@amosbatto I took another look at the graph and noticed, I’d made a mistake that made Flagship Android seem better than it was. I also updated the averages of getting a new phone, which were worse for Androids (and I used maybe a bit optimistic average for L5 users getting a new one, but the difference is, we should not have to, though). That also led me to rename the lines: the solids are in fact about the phones and then there is what users will (have to) do. It is partly about selection, what consumer choices one makes, but short lifespan phones definitely force towards a bad path.

(edit: and now that I look at it, I notice that all phones have a slight cumulative error as extra usage is added to user line, but that is on all and overall does not change - will come back to this when there is more actual data, someday)

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If someone is interested, a simplified comparison: how many trees it would take [sources for calculations:].

Tree can absorb about 22kg (48 pounds) of CO2 per year (we are talking good forest size “adult” trees here - multiply by about 20 if you think about planting a seedling). Production of an L5 would mean that roughly 9 trees need a year to offset that. For all phonetypes in graph, each individual users phones CO2-e during 5 years would need (if they don’t get a new one) about 2 trees to offset them during that time (production+use&network). But if a Mid-range Android user gets their third phone then, they should have about 4 trees - double - during that whole time plus have plans to plant more. Now multiply by number of users. Expecting to use more of the same tech, especially following the blue or orange dotted lines, users - or countries - need to plant bigger forests. And this only counts for a phone and CO2 equivalency. This is why a longer lasting phone (and tech in general) is good as reduction is better than just offsetting.

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Simply capping full charge at 4.2 volts instead of 4.3-4.4 volts (which is overcharge territory for lithium ion) will greatly extend battery life. 4.1 volts as the full charge voltage will let the battery last a decade with good runtime. 4.1 volts is usually where electric vehicles top out their charge, but 4.2 is considered “fully charged” for lithium ion chemistries.

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Are you talking about 18650 lithium ion (NMC, NCA or LCO) batteries?
Almost all the batteries found in phones are lithium polymer with LCO (lithium-cobalt-oxide) chemistry that have a max voltage of 3.8 or 3.7, but the same principal that you describe applies that limiting the charging capacity to 80% or 90% (i.e., limiting the max voltage) will greatly extend the number of cycles before degradation in capacity.


Given a name of “mrtsolar” maybe the reference is to the lithium chemistry found in PV system storage.

This is an important point. With climate change, we might get massive death of trees, especially if we get increased droughts in the future, which many of the climate models predict. The trees that we plant today might not sequester carbon in the long term, so avoiding carbon emissions is better.

Given that the Linux kernel still supports the 486 architecture, the lifespan of a Linux phone could be 10+ years. The marginal improvement in the utility of each new generation of mobile phone is decreasing over time so that we will soon reach a point where upgrading the hardware offers little advantage for most people. We reached that point about a decade ago with desktop PCs, where it made little sense for most people to keep upgrading their PCs, because they couldn’t see much of a difference in performance.

For most people, there isn’t that much of a difference between a Snapdragon 820 and an 855, because they are already fast enough to do what most people want in a phone. At some point there won’t be enough new features such as dual and triple lens cameras, larger screens, longer aspect-ratios and OLED screens, facial recognition, NFC, 5G, etc., that are going to keep driving sales, so my hope is that people are going to start valuing longevity more and more, which is where Linux will have an advantage over Android and iOS.


they continue to push the hardware specs for VR that requires a HIGH resolution in order to be enjoyable up close. for each eye a minimum of 4k i believe is required. that is because you look at the screen through a lens system and pixelation is a problem when it’s that close to the eye.

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Gurgle Translator:

surveillance / turbo capitalism companies will continue to find ways to utilize even more resources and to awaken desires for Thneeds we didn’t even know we had before.

If only there was a way to not be enslaved by this vicious circle :thinking:

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I am long use smartphones (from 2005, 2007, 2009 and last from 2012 still alive) and can say the weak point preventing long life phone:

  1. battery, can be replaced easy
  2. internal flash (5-7 years max), especially system partitions on block device which cant be reformatted
  3. accelerometer+gyroscope (for me dead after 6 years)
  4. CPU thermopaste if overheated (last phones not designed for high load)
  5. USB connector
  6. vibro

USB ports breaking from years of use and batteries degrading over time are the two problems that I have seen.
I haven’t seen the other problems that you mention.
Most phones use cheap graphite sheets (i.e., thermal tape) to dissipate the heat, so thermal paste isn’t used. However, the new 5G phones will probably need thermal paste. Samsung, LG and HTC are planning on using heat pipes and Huawei are planning on using a copper sheet, and I assume that those will be attached with thermal paste.


This is for lithium ion chemistries, including LCO and NMC, regardless if they are 18650 or prismatic cells. Their rated voltage is usually 3.7 volts, although phone manufacturers like to mark them as 3.8 volt batteries to get a marginal increase in Wh capacity. 3.7 is the nominal voltage, but their actual range is 3-4.2 volts. Most devices shut down around 3.4 volts as there is little energy to obtain by going further down to 3 volts.

Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, or LiFePO4, have a max charge of 3.6 volts, with a nominal rating of 3.2 volts. These are commonly used where stability and extra long life are desired. EV conversions and electric scooters tend to have these cells, while phones, laptops, and production EVs use either li-ion NMC or LCO (Tesla).

To demonstrate this further, at my former workplace, part of the standard setup for the laptops was to limit max charge to 90%. Since the laptops spent most of their time plugged into power, the batteries don’t get used much. In two years time, the batteries still reported 90% capacity, vs. 70% capacity for batteries left sitting at 100% charge. My personal laptop has a charge limit of 75%, capping the cell voltage at 4.1 volts. In four years, it’s down to 95% capacity.

Lithium ion chemistries are primarily damaged by sitting at max charge for long periods of time, being exposed to high temperatures, or by being charged when the cell temperature is below freezing (0C / 32F). They like staying between 3.5 and 4.1 volts at room temperature the best.

My iPhone was at 100% reported capacity a week ago. It’s normally only charged while I’m commuting, so it rarely hits full charge. However, this last week we were on a trip, so the phone spent a lot of time at full charge and warmer than normal due to heavy use (photography and navigation). It dropped to 99% reported capacity, with just a few days of being fully charged (this phone is only a few months old).


I’m convinced that VR will be a niche usage, because most people don’t want to put on goggles to use it, but AR is likely to blow up and become very popular for a certain set of people.

Looking at the list of features that Librem 5 will lack, I kind of doubt that most people who buy it today will feel any different about the phone in the next 3-5 years:

  • More RAM
  • More Flash memory
  • Better CPU cores
  • OLED screen
  • NFC
  • wireless charging,
  • neural processors and AI
  • speech and object recognition,
  • AR
  • VR,
  • fingerprint reader or facial recognition,
  • multi-lens camera,
  • AI processing to improve images,
  • bezelless (“waterfall”) designs with cameras and fingerprint readers under display
  • folding OLED screen,
  • 5G

If you are happy with the Librem 5 in year 1, I don’t see a killer feature that will change your opinion in the next 5 years. I’m convinced that 5G speeds won’t arrive at most places and will cost too much to widely implement. Folding screens will be important to people who want bigger screens, but I can’t see them dominating the market.

Of course, the Librem 5 will be considered obsolete on day 1 by most tech reviewers, but frankly a lot of the tech reviewers like Lew at Unbox Therapy and Marques Brownlee are idiots who are more concerned with look and feel than actual utility and don’t have the technical knowledge to appreciate the Librem 5.