Librem 5 Buyer Beware

I have owned several of the Librem line of products and eagerly awaited the Librem 5. Like the rest of us, I waited 3 years for the phone to arrive, even upgrading to the Librem 5 USA, as I was told it had a shorter line. It was very expensive to do so, but I wanted to support Purism’s mission and believed in the Librem 5.

When the phone arrived, I was beyond excited. I knew it was going to be a major change from Android, but I didn’t care about the apps. I just wanted to be able to make phone calls and send texts. My Android phone had just broken, so it was good timing to get the Librem 5.

Unfortunately I hit several major issues:
- I frequently, randomly, wouldn’t receive phone calls or be able to place them. Using the same SIM card in my girlfriend’s Android, calls worked fine. Rebooting the Librem 5 would usually resolve the issue (but of course I wouldn’t know I wasn’t receiving phone calls until I tried to place one, so I would miss quite a few calls, with no record of it)
- I didn’t get any MMS texts and I could not send them. All as silent failures, so it looked like I was sending these texts.
- The phone would stop charging randomly and wouldn’t start again until I rebooted it. This meant the already very short battery life was next to nothing and I could more or less only use the phone plugged in.

Unfortunately, it was clear I could not use the Librem 5 for only calls and texts, which was my baseline requirement for a phone and that I would need to buy a new Android if I wanted phone functionality. At this point, I can not sustain two phones at the high prices they are at, so I emailed Purism to try to work with them on returning the phone.

To my surprise, they agreed to let me return the phone and that they would try to work on the issues. This was major for me and I carefully packaged the pristine condition phone in the box and packaging they sent it to me in and sent it back via UPS, from their shipping label.

I waited and didn’t hear anything, so I sent a cordial email, to make sure they had received the device. I knew they had from the UPS tracking, but of course things can go wrong with that sometimes and it had been some time since it said it was delivered. The response I got back was: the device was received, we are denying the refund request because it is damaged and per our policy we can deny any refunds if there is user caused damage. See attached picture for evidence of the damage you caused.

Needless to say I was incredulous. I had only had the device for a week and I packaged it myself in their packaging. I knew their was no damage when I sent it, which meant any damage must have occurred in shipping (again in their packaging, per their instructions) or at their facility.

On opening the picture, there is a minuscule scratch near the top of the screen. I emailed back, explaining that I did not cause this scratch and that I followed their shipping instructions, so that I should not be held liable for any damage caused during shipping. I even explained how if they were concerned on resale they could use it as a dev device or sell it as “refurbished.”

I got no reply for quite some time, so I followed up and asked if they had reconsidered. I got a short: Your request is rejected, send us your address so we can return the device to you.

So, out of this, the net result was I got the phone back, scratched. It was certainly a terrible customer service experience for me and left a very poor taste in my mouth for Purism. I was really excited to come back to the Librem 5 once it could handle some basic phone functionality, but at this point I don’t trust the company enough to return as a customer. It was sad to have my hopes dashed, especially after floating them a loan for three years. I had told them I understood that it is an enormous challenge to launch a new hardware product and to do the software for it and that they are almost certainly in the red on it, but I don’t think hanging onto money in any way possible is the best long term strategy. Based on the responses I got from Purism during this period, I am frankly not certain that they didn’t intentionally scratch the device at their facility to avoid having to refund it.

I hope y’all have better experiences than me…


May I suggest posting that picture of the “damage?”


Also “my girlfriend’s sim card worked fine” suggests you need a new sim card.

I read his post as the L5 sim worked fine in the android phone.



There is a hard bug on linux kernel where the modem crash suddenly plus a bug on ModemManager that prevents making calls in 3.9G without VoLTE, enabling VoLTE fix this depending on the firmware modem version or carrier.

There is a bug on libmms already fixed but not yet shipped to Byzantium.

Do you upgraded das-uboot bootloader and controller firmwares?

With white theme and Suspend to Ram we get decent battery life. Also we can not compare Librem 5 and Android on battery life comparatives because they are 2 different things & mission.

Sorry to hear that.

Please share pictures.

I agree with you.

: |

It sad that Purim staff not care strictly the Purism name.


That’s because that’s what it actually says. My bad.

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No. librem5 is a mobile phone. It is not usable with a battery life of <10h. Apart from the ecological aspect, a mobile phone’s core feature is the battery runtime. It does not matter if it is closed source or open source, android or windows.

The fact that something is open(-source) or hipster-like does not release the distributor from certain warranties.

Compare that: You go to a hipster restaurant and order potatoes for surprising low price. The potatoes are not properly cooked. You can’t argue that this is a “hipster” restaurant; nor can you argue that the price is low so you must expect such things to happen. Potatoes in a restaurant must be cooked properly when served.

Battery life resp. runtime is a core feature of a phone. librem5 fails here. The only question left here is the definition of an acceptable runtime. The current state is not acceptable.


Thank you for saying Mobile Phone it more neutral than Linux Phone because Linux Phone mean opensource what does it mean it containing closed software/driver somewhere on the OS or packages, Like android or sailfish and postmarket, ubuntutouch and L5 it other fancy thing.

To be honest i not using my L5 as main driver yet, but i tested a lot and got 14 hrs like normal use it on day, but i using newer things plus tricks not shipped to Byzantium. next kernel version it come with micro powersaving, as every kernel update it come features to L5 which it is nice from Purism. But yes battery life of <10h it not fair yet.

You right but the core feature for L5 it is to be Free Software plus hypersecurity-hks phone, not hiperbattery longevity because the soc It does not allow it the super power save, as like qualcomm soc will be good for battery but in exchange for blocking you and spying on you. I am optimist that L5 will be very good in all the aspect eventually. If we want to see wonderful things on Purism like google, apple it does it then Purism need to be contract over 1500 engineers so everybody know here that Purism do not have that power to execute it so we need to understand Purism the low power.

As i say before that Purism need more money to cook good your potatoes. I complete understands you that if we pay expensive Purism electronics this electronics need to satisfy the customer, so i guess that the expensive of Purism it is for survive the company. I like Purism because they create amazing electronics.

What battery core you want it ?

Could be fail for now, but L5 it not finished yet and Purism programmer it working very hard and strong to satisfy all customer for sure i can confirm this, thing will there eventually.

Your criticism is acceptable.

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I can certainly relate to how you must feel about Purism after your bad experience. This could happen to me too and I haven’t received my phone yet. But if they refuse to make good and if you don’t plan on suing them, you only have one choice now. Fix the bugs if you can and try to make the best of it. It sounds like there are others here on this forum who will help you. One thing we have to accept is that this phone is a work in process (even if you did also get screwed regarding the scratch). It would be nice if everything just worked correctly out of the box. But that wasn’t my expectation when I ordered my phone. Don’t expect the “Samsung experience”. If you do, you’ll almost assuredly be disappointed.

If I were in your shoes I would: 1.) Learn how to reflash the phone now, so you will know what to do after you break something as you almost assuredly will do sooner or later. 2.) Resolve the bugs, one at a time. If you break something in software in the process, reflash the phone and keep trying. Breaking something in software is like your player getting killed in a game. Go back to level one and start over. 3.) After wracking your brain on this long enough, read all of the documentation as a new L5 user with some experience behind you. Go back to step 2 until your phone works as good as it’s going to get. 4.) Install more apps and see how close you can come to making this phone your daily driver. If the hardware proves to be irredeemably broken somewhere along the way, throw the phone away and consider it a lesson learned.

Thanks for warning us about the scratch. If I end up shipping my phone back (assuming I ever receive it to begin with), the last thing I’ll do before sealing-up the box is to take several pictures of the phone.

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