Librem 5 Pros and Cons Compared to Android or iPhone

For me? No! Except for Firefox, everything is better on the L5 than Pinephone Mobian (even before the modem died).

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I have an Android Pixel with GrapheneOS, without a SIM card installed, which I could carry with me, along with the L5. However I’m not sure that GrapheneOS stops cellular tracking as you can make an emergency 9-1-1 call (in the US) in an Android phone without a SIM. Nor can I be sure that the Android won’t send my GPS coordinates somewhere. Of course, I could turn off the Pixel when not in use, but is it really off? I don’t know.

To make sure of no tracking, I additionally carry a 6th gen iPod Touch, which has no GPS and no cellular capability, which I use for apps not on or not convenient with L5. The iPod Touch is essentially just like a first gen iPhone SE otherwise.


Carry it in a shielded container? :wink:

Functionally, that requirement is global. So it comes down to how much chatter a phone that does not have a SIM engages in. I don’t know.

Or you can use Pinephone as I do, which has the modem kill switch.

I also have a generally worse experience with the Pinephone Mobian as compared with the L5.


I confirm that it was really easy to install Waydroid using the instructions in Anyone Successfully Run WayDroid on Librem 5?. Works fine for me.


Well, maybe if you count all existing applications for Linux in the World, you might come to such number. Most applications will not have a build for an ARM processor in the first place and will not run on a Raspberry Pi either. But de facto the situation is not that bad if you use the website: and if you use the Mobile Settings App and if you don’t expect to completely replace your notebook with your phone.
For me personally there is currently only one app that I wish it had better mobile interface and this is Thunderbird.
I am also optimistic, that with time the responsiveness of the apps will improve. At the end of the day most apps have been written before the release of PinePhone or Librem 5, so in the past there was very little motivation to bother with the responsiveness of a Linux desktop application.


I have installed Debian on a Olimex Olinuxino Lime2 and all the apps I normally use on x86 are working fine (well, don’t expect to use Firefox, CPU is not good enough).

This is interesting. I have no clue about the “appstream” links, what does it point to? Are these special versions aimed at a mobile phone screen?

I had no issue with responsiveness so far, only with apps being unsuitable to display on a screen of the resolution of a phone. The website you have mentioned is listing Gajim, I recently asked the developpers, after v1.3.3, Gajim have on purpose removed the options of a window per conversation, does not plan to reintroduce this and does not plan to do anything for usage on a mobile phone screen. From that perspective, I find it rather misleading to put Gajim on that list.

I guess that there will be improvements but I don’t want to give false hopes to people looking for a GNU/Linux phone now.

My objective is having and promoting an entirely free software system, with only free software apps. For computers, GNU/Linux is obviously the way to go. For phones, using the same could be nice but there are 406 apps listed on the site you indicated, that may not work that well on a mobile phone, while I understand F-Droid main repository has about 10 times as many, specifically designed for mobile phones. So at this point, I am unable to say whether GNU/Linux or Android (of course, I am talking about an entirely free software distribution of Android, like Replicant) is the best strategy.

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Seems you know what is good and fancy.

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“Best” is relative, so it depends. I wouldn’t get too hung up on what “the best” is and instead look at what meets your needs and aligns with your goals generally.

In that light I consider it a pro for the Librem5 being more idealistic from a device and technology perspective.

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How does one compile an x86 program to run under ARM on a Librem 5? In theory I know that all you need is use the right compiler, and then just run the exact same uncompiled x86 program, through an ARM compiler and magically, you have an equivalent ARM program. However, I doubt it’s that easy. Is a cross compiler used? If you want to take an x86 program and format it to run on your phone, do you just link to a PHOSH or Libhandy library at compile time and let the compiler implement PHOSH by itself ? I doubt that implementing PHOSH is that easy also. Do you need to get in to some deep coding to make PHOSH work, or is it fairly easy? Are the software tools for all of this FOSS?, or is there a significant price tag?

I am looking for a ten-thousand foot overview and not for actual instructions to do all of this.

A separate topic perhaps?

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Waydroid is not fully degoogled. The Android system image it uses is based on LineageOS, which attempts to make connections to google domains. I verified this for myself using OpenSnitch:

From this executable:
* /usr/sbin/dnsmasq

To this host:
* connectivitycheck[.]gstatic[.]com
* play[.]googleapis[.]com
* time[.]android[.]com
* www[.]google[.]com

I also noticed that the Mull browser from F-Droid attempts to make unnecessary connections to mozilla domains:


Librem 5 compared to Android and iPhone:

Before you are allowed to use an iPhone, apple requires that it must first be “activated”. To do this, you need to load a SIM card into the iPhone (the SIM card doesn’t need to be activated with cellular service), and the iPhone must be allowed access to phone home to apple[.]com domains on either a cellular or Wifi network. You are disallowed by apple from setting up and using your own iPhone until you allow it to have network access so that it can ask permission from apple on your behalf. Fuck apple.

I do not know if Android phones also require activation like iPhones or if that depends on the type of Android phone.

My Librem 5 and my Pinephone never required me to do anything in order to use them. They work without needing a SIM card and without needing a cellular modem at all, thanks to the killswitches.


  • With iPhones, apple is the real owner of the device.

  • With Android phones, google is the real owner of the device, unless you can fully degoogle the operating system on your specific device (which can be difficult or impossible).

  • With the Librem 5 and the Pinephone, I am the owner/operator/administrator of my own device.


Lots of good points here but what is with the $2000 tag on the L5 USA where a comparable pinephone PRO has an extra 1GB and is only $400? That is also $700 more than their own Librem 14 USA laptop. Pinephone has R&D costs too so can’t count that.

  • Anti-interdication services (as opposed to scrutinized customs checks)

  • Made in USA but what does that mean in the form of $1600?

  • What else?

There is your answer. :wink:

I may be a zealot or a fanboy with blinders on; however, I truly think this device is amazing. Is it objectively “better” in terms of technical specs and functionality than and Android or Iphone? No, probably not. However, whether it is objectively “better”, in this respect, is not the question, in my mind.

The real question should be: is the Librem 5 objectively a better freedom respecting and privacy respecting device than those made by Google or Apple? The answer there is unequivocally “yes”. The real value (making it worth $1,200 - $2,000) is that someone is taking on Goliath companies who sell devices in “walled-garden” ecosystems that are ostensibly there to “track” you and make money from it. I personally find that appalling, frustrating, etc. (Use your favorite adjective).

The Librem 5 can do, more or less, what you ask it to do. It respects you. There are dedicated people at Purism, developers, outside volunteers, etc., who are working this phone, I suspect, because they believe in freedom and privacy. It is important. It is also an uphill battle.

In sum, the device is very capable, not perfect, but very cool and useful. Maybe most importantly, it is freedom respecting and mostly private (the “un-private” aspects are user-driven). Just like any other important social endeavor, I believe society “should” support the aforementioned individuals, volunteers, companies, etc, who are advocating for freedom and privacy.

That is the “Pro” of this device. The only real “Con” is that you can’t get all the fanciness that many (including me) were previously used-to. Of course, as we all know, that “Con” and fanciness comes with the unacceptable price of freedom and privacy - thus back to my original conclusion of the “Pro” of the device.


Pinephones,pro is a generic TOY, Librem 5 is a OEM.

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Curious, does that mean it doesn’t have the Mobian UI lag and scaling problems that pinephone has?

The L5 is much more performant, from my brief experience using both.