Librem 5 FCC Certification

You’re not wrong but the perception is that the continued wait for this reflects badly on the manufacturing process, hindering a potential ramp up of unit availability.

If it’s not certified it cant be sold in large quantities, or so the rumors and general arguments go.

I have no idea what truth there is to it, just sharing what I’ve seen used elsewhere as reasoning. To me it’s mainly a strange point to ignore, and this mystery furthers above mentioned theories.

If the device was available to be purchased today and recieved within a month your take would be more prevalent imo


When it comes to whether or not the use of an uncertified cell phone could get the user in trouble, the issue is more about wanting to be in compliance, than about the real life liklihood of consequences… in most cases.

If you put a linear amplifier on your CB radio, use your uncertified Chinese imported VHF transceiver radio on the Marine radio bands, or talk on the GMRS radio bands using a Ham radio, those actions are all very illegal. Will you get caught if you do any of those things without angering anyone? Probably not. Getting caught is very unlikely. But $10K to $30K fines for first time offenses are common. And the Federal government will put a lean on your house if they have to, to collect. And just like traffic laws, ignorance is no excuse.

Most technically inclined people know how this works. When I purchased my Boafeng radio from an online seller, I made the sale conditional on the FCC Part 90 sticker being affixed in the battery compartment, even after verifying Part 90 (business band) certification for the given model on the FCC website. Some radios come without the FCC compliance label (to circumvent import laws) and that can get the user in trouble also. For Ham radio, no FCC certification of the radio is required. All other devices that intentionally emit RF radiation require FCC compliance certification, and not just any compliance will do. The compliance certification has to be specific for the radio service you are using it in. So (for example) a certified Marine radio can’t be used in non-Marine radio services such as GMRS or land-based business radio bands.

The average person often thinks “Non-compliance is no big deal. I’ll just claim that I didn’t know” or “I’ll never get caught”, or “I will blame the manufacturer if I get caught”. How bad could getting caught for such a small technicality be, and besides, how could they ever find out?

Understanding this, FCC compliance is very important to me. Some people really don’t care. Usually, the FCC needs a good reason to get motivated to come after you. So there will most likely never be any consequences for non-compliance, unless they decide to come after you for some reason. In many cases, the perpetrator taunted the police on the police radio frequencies (using f-bombs and saying “ha ha, you can’t catch me”) for several weeks, before someone said “enough is enough” and called the FCC. But because the fines are so high for first time offenses of more innocent offenses, I prefer a fully certified device. One guy used his brother’s ham radio to save someone’s life in an emergency. He had no ham radio license himself. He still had to pay the fine. Catching the violator is actually very easy once they decide to come after you.

The political implications and ramifications of the first modern non-Apple, non-Google completely free-d phone are yet to be known. Will anyone powerful ever try to find a method to stop its use? Who knows?


In most cases FCC certification doesn’t mean much, but if the phone exceeds the allowed levels of electromagnetic radiation, it could require that the phone be redesigned. I for one would not want to use a phone that exceeded the allowed limits. I also do worry about the amount of SARs.


I’ve just searched on PINE64 forum for info about how they did with the certification. I found very interesting info:

( the discussions took place at the beginning of last year when certification was still underway)

“For example, the FCC/CE testing alone costs $50k.” [link]

“As Germany customs very strict on the FCC/CE certification for smartphone, hence, we apologize as the PinePhone for Germany batch will delayed until after Lunar New Year holiday as we are still waiting the FCC/CE certificate to release.” [link]

“Indeed, this is a last-minute decision that was made. It appears that German customs are particularly stringent when it comes to this, even if the phone is labeled as an engineering sample/ development unit. Let’s try not to make a big public thing out of it - not because this is something that needs to be kept secret from the community or ‘hushed up’ - but rather so we don’t cause issues for users in other EU countries by too much exposure.” [link]

“My Pinephone went through German customs fine (labelled as “gift”).”
"Yes, a handful (think approx 50 units) were sent to test the ground for future shipments. " [link]

ADDED: >"Hi Sven, today i was at my local customs (Duesseldorf too). My pinephone is back on it’s way to china. The lack of CE marking is criticized. " [link]

Purism already have the FCC/CE marks applied on the box and on the phone in the battery compartment. Also they did/do ship phones with “developer phone” on the custom declaration. EDIT: And I guess the customs are less suspicious for parcels sent from USA than from China/ HK.


I forgot an important one:

"The CE certification is 80% complete. But… we need the cameras to work in software (and USB-C too IRRC) in order to complete the process. Having the cameras function in an OS may, however, take another few months. Nothing to be done about this sadly. " [link]


I already think that the Librem 5 motherboard is very shielded and was wondering why don’t we have the certifications yet. I know more now. Hope my pre-order will be certified.

That seems a pretty bizarre requirement? What does the camera working in software have to do with RF signals? Anyone know why this would be the case?

Probably because the software controls how the hardware is used and they are testing “live” hardware. And software can make hardware run “wildly”. The cameras and its hardware interfaces to the rest of the system use alternating electric currents at high frecvencies. That’s enough to emit RF.


If that’s the reasoning wouldn’t you need to certify ever softeare update also?

don’t give them ideas :slight_smile:


Well that explains the mystery why the Librem 5 has not yet gotten the FCC certification. I wish that Purism had simply posted that, rather than letting us speculate for months about what was going on.


I checked the box
hold your order until CE/FCC is available
I received my Librem 5 in France on February 3, 2021


Did they confirm that your phone is certified? Did you find a Declaration of Conformity in the box (EDIT: that might be optional to be included)?

They put those FCC/CE marks everywhere since a few months ago, but they still ask (as of March 11, see above) ask in emails if you want " hold your order until FCC/CE is available". And they never announced yet that they completed the certifications. I think you received it by mistake.


Purism still hasn’t applied for FCC certification according to the FCC web site. Companies in a hurry can do the testing in 4-6 weeks and then the application to the FCC should take 1-2 weeks. If the holdup was the cameras, then hopefully Purism can now send in the L5 for testing.


Maybe. Mistakes do get made but …

There is some uncertainty as to what “hold your order until CE/FCC is available” means. It could mean “CE/FCC, whichever is relevant to the location of the recipient”. If CE is available and FCC is not available (yet) and the recipient is in France then maybe it’s OK.

If it means “both CE and FCC must be available” then at the current time it looks like a mistake.

Considering it’s two months since @bjm received the Librem 5, maybe the care factor is not there but if someone cares then the right approach would be to ask Purism support what the question means and follow up from there if appropriate.

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Yes, the holdup was the cameras:


But if Purism gets the Librem 5 FCC and CE certified now, then they won’t have an excuse later, for not ramping-up shipping, because of FCC and CE non-certification later.

I can see the article now. It might say something like “…after the global supply chain caught up in mid-2022, we were notified by the FCC and the authorities in Europe, that shipping of the Librem 5 within the US and Europe can’t proceed until we first start and complete each respective certification process”.

Aw shucks. I guess we should have thought ahead about that in 2021. Who would have thought that shipping ramp-up would have to wait until sometime in 2023 now?

To Purism: I really hope you’re working from a pre-release and post-release check list. If these certifications aren’t on those check-lists, please add them now, before someone forgets about them.

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Here in the US, I don’t think you can get nor need more than one type of FCC certification on the same device. For an example, if your device is certified for FCC Part 90 (Land Mobile Radio - business band transceivers), you don’t also need to have a Part 15 (for non-intentional RF radiators) certification also on the same device. If the camera is not an intentional RF radiator, then Purism should have no valid reason to wait to get compliance testing done and apply for the FCC certification. All testing will automatically include tests on the whole phone, with respect to unintended RF radiation included. Intentional rf radiators are parts of an application that were created for the purpose of transmitting radio waves. If the camera is there and happens to prevent the phone from complying as an intentional rf radiator, wouldn’t purism want to know that now as opposed to finding out later?

These kinds of excuses, serial steps and accompanying excuses are what needs to end. By now, Purism should have applied for FCC certification. There should be certification laboratories that have tested the Librem 5 by now and either found the Librem 5 to be within compliance, or to let Purism know which tests are failing, so that Purism can work in those issues now, in parallel with everything else they are doing. The certification process should not wait until everything else is perfect on the phone. Everything should be worked on in parallel, not one fearful step at a time, followed with excuses and shipping delays.

Let’s say that Purism really is ramping-up on the Librem 5 and then they find that unintended noise is coming from the camera module and so a board re-design is needed. Let’s say that this is only discovered in the FCC compliance process. You would say “why did Purism wait so long to find this out?”.

Another scenario is where Purism gets an early compliance test that has the Librem 5 passes all tests. Then after they get the camera working and after that, the phone will no longer pass those same tests. Where you start looking to resolve the issue? The camera module.

But if you take one fearful step at a time, there is no R&D synergy. The bad news always comes along and negates several successes and then you have to start over several times. There should be so many Librem 5 failures in those FCC compliance testing laboratories that someone at Purusm is on a first-name basis with their counterpart at the compliance testing laboratory. They work together and learn from eachother. This scenario sure beats showing up at the testing laboratory after your device has ramped-up production and been shut down by the FCC. So Todd shows up and says “hi, you don’t know me but by this report you wrote, my Librem 5 fails your compliance testing for a thousand reasons”. Then the next day he writes an article, blaming the compliance testing laboratory or the FCC and announcing yet more shipping delays

This may seem like extreme possible scenarios. But Purism should be working with the compliance testing laboratories and writing articles about that process. This most likely explains how Purism is only taking small baby-steps and mostly in series where any mis-step stops the whole process (and it does). They need to do a lot more things in parallel. And that includes FCC compliance testing.

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Purism does not only sell in the US.

The FCC only has jurisdiction in the US. So FCC certification should have no bearing on the customers outside the US?

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