Librem 5 concern


#1

So I just found out about this and looked at the specs and I am kinda concerned about the design.

First 32GB seems pretty small for the only storage size. Second there is no mention on if the baseband firmware is open source. Furthermore the baseband seems woefully outdated not supporting 5G or many carrier frequencies.

Combine this with no android or ios apps and what are we supposed to do on this? No messenger app. No snapchat. No tinder. Like cmon we need some stuff!

Sounds like this will be plagued by poor reception, no software, and not good enough hardware to be a mobile PC. Also when this is supposed to ship potentially within the next 3 months why is the hardware still TBA? $650+ seems very steep for something with this many problems.


#2

Combine this with no android or ios apps and what are we supposed to do on this? No messenger app. No snapchat. No tinder. Like cmon we need some stuff!

Ummm…what?

I think maybe you are in the wrong place.


#3

I am in the wrong place because I want a phone you can actually do stuff on that phones are expected to do in 2019?


#4

You do understand that this project is an attempt to create a secure, privacy focused phone? And that it will run Linux? Yes you are in the wrong place if you want this phone to be a Samsung or Apple clone. That’s not what this is about.

Aside from that, it will have plenty of functionality. Like “stuff” that runs on Linux.


#5

Just because I want a secure phone should not mean I need to forgo everything people normally do on a phone. I could just break my phone with a hammer and say I am more secure. Venmo, whatsapp, and snap are critical for basic communications and financial transactions with most people in 2019.

Don’t expect many people to buy this if all we will have for apps is libreoffice, firefox, and blender on our smartphone.


#6

in this case the Librem 5 is Thors hammer and only worthy people shall be able to lift it up. i was going to say something about posting from double accounts but someone else will sooner or later.


#7

I am pretty sure this is just some trolling.


#8

Are you guys kidding me? No one has been able to think of one solution to any of the problems I mention. No one is trolling. Smartphones are expected to be able to do certain things such as run basic social media apps and communicate using industry standard apps… looks like the baseband is not just my concern as the other post many people say it is completely not supported by any carriers in their country.


#9

Just go and buy an iPhone. Running Tinder is not a problem being solved here. Feeding trolls is also not a major activity at this forum…


#10

I don’t think pureman48 is a troll. Feels more like a teenager. He completely misses what Purism is doing. The problems he lists are actually the design goal of the Librem5: No cooperation with surveilance capitalism businesses (so no facebook, google, whatsapp, tinder and the likes).


#11

Wow, four other people typing… ok you go first :sunglasses:


#12

Cool, feel free to leave.

I don’t mean that in a combative sense, but rather a freedom one. You are free to leave, otherwise it seems you are just here to be combative yourself. That’s your choice as well; I’m not sure why you would choose that life, but so be it.

This is exactly how I feel about the “issues” you pointed out about the Librem 5. What if I don’t want Tinder and other apps run by greedy private companies bent on harvesting and selling my personal information on my device? Which, by the way, here’s a very timely article for you on Tinder (and related apps) privacy issues published yesterday on ThreatPost.

Additionally, I absolutely love the smaller storage options on devices. I never need to exceed a couple gigabytes of stored data, and smaller capacity generally means cheaper parts (e.g. $650 vs. $690). I know I’m a not-generally-vocal minority here but that’s the crowd this device attracts. Not necessarily for storage size opinions, but if you’re the kind of person who wants:

  • Lots of apps
  • Lots of GBs
  • Highest-end latest-and-greatest some-nanometer graphics chipset
  • No caring to investigate how your data gets handled

(which, by the way, you are all of these things based on your posts)

Then by all means, go get Samsung or Apple’s latest flagship phone.


#13

It’s a classic case of “Unclear on the concept.”

Someone downthread mentioned storage, and that COULD cause me a bit of angst, as I like to stuff my phone full of .mp3s and use it as a pseudoPod. (i.e. a not-an-iPod.) And in general, the more space you have on your phone, the less likely you’ll be tempted to use the “cloud.” However, if it has a slot you can stick a micro SD card into, that’s readily solved (I did that with my Galaxy S5…which I can’t wait to toss.)


#14

Those very things “people normally do on a phone” that you wish to continue doing are a very large part of the insecurity of the phone. You cannot simultaneously have a secure and insecure phone, but that’s what you are demanding.


#15

@pureman48 I feel you. I really do but. You have to give up all of those “great” apps like Instagram-Snap and Tinder that take all your data. I have an Android right now and I have removed my fingerprints and uninstalled every app that isn’t coming from F-Droid. Which means; good games, good communication apps -like snap and of course Tinder. And I am preparing myself for this Librem5 phone coming out. All of that just for a secure phone.

Well everything is being worked on while we speak. But 5G for example is a high security risk. I haven’t looked into it but I have seen it on the TV news that 5G is very dangerous. So if you really wanna stay secure on that side of the fence, forget 5G+.

Purism has also told us that running Android apps could possibly become possible on the Librem5. But that is not 100% sure if they will.

And last thing, all the specs is being put into place, just a few months ago they switched from an i.MX-6 to an i.MX-8. Just so we could get a better more powerful phone. Correct me if I’m wrong about the CPU.

So. If I were you, I would buy this phone right now, no doubt. But if you really need those apps like Instagram-Snap and Tinder then I don’t think a secure phone is something you really need right now. Maybe one day when you’re ready to put down the “good as hell” communication collecting data apps then! you’re ready!


#16

Sorry guys I didn’t know the point of this phone was to defeat the evil capitalist oppressors.

Joking aside, In my mind a secure phone solves the hidden tracking behind the scenes that most phones do. Then it lets me choose what I am sharing with apps. If I want to share things on facebook I think you should be able to choose to do that. I thought the whole underlying purpose of a phone like this is to stop the baked in tracking. As it is now iphones and android don’t choose if you have a facebook, tinder, or whatever else and you have full control over privacy settings for these apps.


#17

I don’t think you get what secure actually means, and how the apps that you so love work against it. Having most of the apps that you mentioned installed on your phone actually means that it is not secure, precisely because of the way these apps work. So not having a tinder or a facebook app on it is actually part of what makes a phone secure.


#18

For any app that also utilizes a website, you can use the website. Unfortunately, when software is closed-source, only the owners/maintainers of that source can change it. So if you want Tinder on this phone, you have to ask Tinder to port their app to Linux. If you want Venmo, you have to ask Venmo to port it to Linux. There won’t be anything from stopping you from using them on this phone if that is what you choose to do. But that is outside Purism’s control, and given the relatively small market share this phone will have, I don’t believe those companies will be porting anything any time soon.

The phone will make phone calls, it will send emails, it will send SMS and E2E encrypted messages (but not via WhatsApp). It will do the things a smartphone can and should. It won’t use proprietary software to do them. And it won’t prioritize making that proprietary software available. But if it becomes available, you can use them, because unlike most phones, you will totally own this phone and be able to do whatever you can to it’s software/hardware.


#19

You probably should wait until the Librem 5 is released and read the reviews to see if it fits your needs before ordering it (although the price will probably rise to $699 when released).

Here are some details that might address some of your concerns:

  • There are 107 apps currently listed for mobile Linux in mglapps.frama.io, and most of them will probably be available for the Librem 5. With an active community, I expect most of them will be quickly added to the PureOS Store. The work of adapting existing Linux desktop applications to work with libhandy will take longer, but there are potentially thousands of mobile apps that could be available in a couple years.
  • Purism is developing Chatty for SMS + XMPP messaging.
  • Purism started planning a Messages app last year to incorporate an adapted version of Fractal into the Librem 5, but there is currently no code in the Messages repo so I wouldn’t expect this to be available on day one. However, Fractal is already available as a mobile Linux app, so I expect that the community will make it available in the PureOS Store even if Purism doesn’t. Fractal is a Matrix client, and Matrix which has bridges to IRC, Telegram, Discord, Gitter, Slack and libpurple (which supports 20+ protocols including Skype, Lync and XMPP).
  • The elephant in the room is messaging with Whatsapp. In a standard Linux desktop, you can run an Android virtual machine with Whatsapp installed and then use the mautrix-whatsapp bridge to communicate with a Matrix client. I doubt that it will be possible to install an Android VM on day one, but I expect that the community will make this happen if it technically feasible, because a lot of people will want it. The question is whether 3GB of RAM is enough to adequately run both PureOS and an Android VM. It probably is possible, but Purism says “RAM: 3 GB minimum (subject to change)”, meaning that there is some possibility that we will get more, since Purism is aiming for convergence to be able to also run a Linux desktop.
  • There will be a MicroSD card slot for expandable storage, so you aren’t limited to 32 GB of storage.
  • The cellular baseband will be in an M.2 slot, so it can be changed, and they are considering offering alternative cellular modem to support other frequencies. A 5G modem can probably be added in the future, but most regions won’t get 5G in the next 2 years and it will only be available in the center of cities. LTE is also speeding up, so it is unlikely that you will ever need 5G. (Some experts think that 5G will be like Blu-ray, and won’t be widely adopted, since it is too expensive to implement and poses potential health problems.)
  • There is a good possibility that an Android mod, such as LineageOS, Resurrection Remix OS or AOSP Extended, will be ported to the Librem 5, so you can use all the standard Android apps. This won’t be available on day one, but I would be shocked if it takes more than a month or two for an Android mod to become available after release.
  • In terms of the SoC, screen, RAM and Flash memory, you are essentially getting a $150-$200 phone, but you are paying for 2.5 years of software development, custom board design, a non-standard SoC which requires more development work, higher prices on parts due to a small production run, and the extra overhead of running a software and hardware development company based in San Francisco. Most phones on the market take a reference design from Qualcomm, Mediatek, UNISOC or one of the Taiwanese ODMs and do some minor tweaks to the hardware design. They add a skin to Android and a few apps. Then they contract with a Taiwanese or Chinese OEM to build it for them. Their development costs are tiny, especially when averaged over millions of units, compared to what it is costing Purism to develop the Librem 5.

So the price is high for the hardware that you are getting, but keep in mind a few factors:

  • You are paying for the development of a new OS and essentially making a donation to the cause of user digital rights. Other companies will be able to take the work of Purism and offer cheaper mobile Linux devices in the future. If the reform of the tech industry and starting a movement for digital rights on mobile devices is important to you, then $649 is not too much to pay.
  • You are getting the only smartphone on the market that runs on 100% free software, has 3 easily-accessible hardware kill switches, comes with a free BIOS and has an M.2 slot to upgrade the cellular modem, and is open hardware in the case and board design.
  • This phone could potentially last you 10 years, because:
    – The battery is replaceable (with tools),
    – It works without binary blobs so the Linux community will provide drivers as long as there is community interest in the device. Plus, NXP is offering 10 and 15 year support plans for the i.MX 8M, so the SoC will likely be produced and supported for a long time,
    – The M.2 slot allows the cellular modem to be upgraded,
    – Parts for the Librem 5 are likely to still be available in the future. Purism promises to release its Gerber files after it has recovered its development costs, so that anyone can 3D print the case and any 3rd party board builder can make the motherboard. Even without the Gerber files, much of this will still be possible.
    – The tech advancement in smartphones is slowing down, so there is less need to have the latest hardware, since it doesn’t make much of a difference in real world usage.
  • The Linux/Wayland/GKT+/GNOME/libhandy/phosh software stack in the Librem 5 will likely require less RAM and fewer processing cycles than Android, which runs in a Java virtual machine, so you are unlikely to notice the slower Cortex-53 cores in the Librem 5 and the fact that it has less RAM.

At this point we don’t know what camera the Librem 5 will have, but I wouldn’t count on it being too good, since the i.MX 8M Quad doesn’t have a dedicated image signal processor or digital signal processor, and we don’t have the proprietary AI magic of Google or Huawei. Likewise, I wouldn’t count on the battery life being too good, since the i.MX 8M Quad isn’t very power efficient. If you need flagship quality in your phone, then you should look elsewhere.

Hopefully that answers some of your questions. Also, it is rumored that Purism will be announcing the final hardware specs for the Librem 5 at the beginning of July (July 1 or July 4), so maybe you want to wait and see if that happens before you decide.


#20

So how is this phone better than just using LineageOS and not signing up for any of these apps? Perhaps even putting LineageOS on this phone would get the best of hardware and software.