Librem5 MMS Question

Thanks for testing it. I noticed that the PinePhone’s DevKit runs at 1.152 GHz as well, so that pretty much confirms it. It would be great if we could get some benchmarking on the PinePhone v1.2 and Dogwood. In theory, Dogwood should have 30% better CPU performance and twice the GPU performance of the PinePhone v1.2, but it would be good to see what is the performance in the real world.

I sort of agree and disagree at the same time. The majority of people who want to buy a Linux phone are going to compare the PinePhone and Librem 5 and decide that it isn’t worth paying the difference in price. Certainly, the specs don’t justify paying 5 times more for the Librem 5.

On the other, you might want to think about these issues as well, that I raised in a debate with a guy on YouTube:

Amos Batto 3 weeks ago
@Fuseteam, There are different development models and different goals for the two phones, and those make for very different costs. See my article on why the Librem 5 costs so much:

It is clear that you like PINE64’s low-cost strategy of:

  1. adapting a platform which PinePhone has been working on since 2015 to use on a phone,
  2. using old hardware which is already well supported in mainline Linux,
  3. partnering with community projects to provide the software

I am very happy that we have two companies producing mobile Linux devices because both companies together will grow the mobile Linux market. I think that PINE64 is playing a very valuable role and I am planning on buying the PineTab, but let me offer some reasons why I decided to buy the Librem 5 over the PinePhone:

  1. UBports, LuneOS, Nemo Mobile and Maemo Leste are huge code bases which are largely siloed and it will require a large amount of work to maintain them in the long-term. These communities took code bases developed by companies, and are trying to maintain them with volunteers. You need a group of very dedicated volunteers to make that sustainable or you need companies that pay developers to work on the projects. PINE64’s donation of $10 per phone isn’t enough to pay developers to do the work, and I’m skeptical that any of these projects is going to be well maintained with just volunteer labor, because each of those communities is very small and there are no companies paying developers to work on the projects.
    I worked 10 years as the community lead in an open source company, so I have some idea of the challenges. With volunteers, you are going to get a lot of devices tested and people developing apps (which is what we see with postmarketOS and UBports), but you don’t get many people doing serious work on the core. The open source projects that work well are the ones where there are people who maintain the code as part of their job, which is the case if you investigate who contributes to many projects such as the Linux kernel, PostgreSQL, Apache and PHP.
    In my opinion, the only viable choices for Purism were either KDE Plasma Mobile or developing GTK/Phosh, because both could rely on an active larger community to help maintain the code in the long term, and both communities have corporate sponsors who pay developers to work on the projects. Purism would have had to do a lot of dev work to make Plasma Mobile work for the Librem 5, and Purism didn’t want to switch its desktop to KDE and it didn’t want to maintain a separate environment for the desktop and the phone, since its goal was convergence between the two. Given the fact that Purism had spent years working with GTK/GNOME and its alignment with the FSF, there were reasons for the company to develop Phosh.
    Since I want to establish Linux as viable mobile OS in the long term, I want to support a company that can pay developers to work on making that a reality. I can see that happening with Purism, but not with PINE64.

  2. I want mobile Linux to be an alternative for normal people, not just a dev environment for tech enthusiasts. The goal of PINE64 is to serve tinkerers, open source communities and Linux geeks, whereas the goal of Purism is to make devices for non-technical users who value privacy and freedom. Of course, it will take many years for Purism to reach its goal, but Purism’s planned PureOS Store shows me that it is trying to create a viable alternative to the Google Play Store and Apple Store that ordinary people can use.

  3. I want a Linux phone that can replace my current smartphone running LineageOS. The hardware in the PinePhone simply isn’t good enough and never will be, because the A64 only supports a maximum of 5 megapixels in the camera, and its Mali-400 MP2 is simply not good enough for the graphics processing that I need. The Librem 5’s GPU is twice as powerful and its CPU is 30% faster in Evergreen and will be 50% faster in Fir than the PinePhone. If I buy a PinePhone, I will still have to carry around my current phone, because the PinePhone’s camera is not good enough to become my primary phone.

  4. The two biggest problems in the tech industry are planned obsolescence and surveillance Capitalism, and the Librem 5 is designed to solve both of those problems. The PinePhone is far better than most phones on both these issues, but I want to reform the tech industry, and Purism sees that as part of its mission.

  5. I care deeply about promoting the ideas of the FSF, so I want to support a company aligned with the goals of the FSF. I want to support 100% free software and open hardware. Yes, I know that the PinePhone will only have 3 proprietary files in /lib/firmware for the Realtek WiFi/BT, so there isn’t much technical difference, but there is a huge difference in terms of the message that the Librem 5 sends to the world when released as the first RYF phone and the second phone with free/open schematics.

  6. Purism is working to get new hardware supported by the Linux kernel, so we have more hardware options in the future. If you check Purism’s commits to the kernel, you will see that it is adding new hardware to the kernel, not just using old hardware that already has good Linux support, which is what PINE64 is doing. Purism’s work on the i.MX 8M drivers is important, because that same work will benefit other projects such as the MNT Reform, which will be the first open hardware laptop. Purism’s work with Redpine Signals is vitally important because it will allow the Linux community to have decent 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth without binary blobs in the Linux file system, which has been a huge problem for the Linux community, since the only current solution has been crappy Atheros Ath9 WiFi that doesn’t work well and requires proprietary firmware for the Bluetooth.
    Purism works with suppliers like NXP and Redpine Signals which have a history of contributing code to the community, whereas PINE64 selected Allwinner which currently violates the GPL and won’t answer any questions from the community and Realtek, which used to violate the GPL. Purism rewards good suppliers with business, whereas PINE64 rewards bad suppliers with business.
    The goal of Purism is to “drive change up the supply chain,” and it says that it will have more power to make change in the hardware industry as its volume grows. I don’t know if Purism will really make much of a difference in this respect, but I think that it is a good strategy, and I want to support its efforts.

  7. The Librem 5 is a more innovative phone. I count 6 innovations in the Librem 5, where as I count 2 innovations in the PinePhone, that have never been done before in the mobile phone industry. See: PinePhone vs Librem 5
    [Edit: I have revised this. I now count 4 innovations in the PinePhone.]

When I think about my long term goals for the tech industry, I see strategic reasons to support Purism over PINE64. None of this is to say that others may come to other conclusions and have other priorities, but just understand why people like me have chosen to support the development of the Librem 5 over the PinePhone.


@Photon I’ve been waiting for the PostmarketOS edition too. I need a replacement phone now, my 3-year-old Blackberry’s earpiece has begun to work only intermittently and I haven’t gotten a security update in 2 years (Google made sure I got the contact tracing update though). I find it interesting that Pine64 seems to get way less flak for delays than Purism does, both with shipping and with saying the PostmarketOS version would be available in “early July” and no further updates in almost a month.

Well yeah, when your software development cost is $0 it’s pretty easy to have cheap devices. But that strategy doesn’t always work; I got a PineTime dev kit last Christmas thinking it would be something I could make into a functional device fairly easily, but between work and other commitments I’ve had to take a break from development for the past several months. When I recently came back to the forums to see how development was progressing, I was disappointed to see that it looks pretty stagnant. A fully functional PineTime is going to take a while to materialize.

You wrote a very well written paper. To be honest, if Purism had not taken so long and was more open, I would have waited. That being said, I will probably still buy one, once a few more bugs are worked out. I have a high end smartphone. As you say, the Pinephone is more for a tinkering IT enthusiast. I will not discount that opinion. I am currently typing this posting on my Librem 15. I am also happy to see companies produce Linux products to include cell phones. It can do nothing, but help Linux to become more mainstream. I have two of my kids on Linux laptops. You made some super poitns, but I still think the Librem 5 is overpriced. You and I have actually spoken a few times in the past about the Librem 5 & 15. I will keep my eyes out on the Librem 5 this year and into the next to see what evolutions are made. It is hard to put down 600-800 dollars on an unfinished phone. Putting down $150 for a device that will become more stable and hopefully more user friendly over time is a much easier situation to negotiate.

You know I could very well be wrong, but I do not think the delays for Pine products have been as excruciatingly drawn out as the Librem 5 has been. To be honest, I paid my $150 for my Pinephone in April and received it yesterday. That is an easier time frame than to wait a possible 8-12 months for a Librem 5. It is only my opinion, but if Purism was to have say…a 4 month wait and not the latter, customers would be more apt to wait. I have no known numbers, but I do know of a few people, such as myself, who cancelled their Librem 5 orders due to no real time frame of delivery.
I saw a YouTube video of someone with one of those devices. They look very interesting. I think myself a fairly functional Linux operator, but developer I am not. I installed the latest UBPorts update today. I am now up to version 76. I hope it continues. Right now I can use my text and phones, but not at the same time as it were. One works on 4g and one on 3g. Hope they work that one out…lol.

My 8-year-old Galaxy has a screen that looks like a shattered windshield. Funny, that’s exactly what the doctor said about my cataracts! I’m getting a new Linux phone to fix the former and lens implants to fix the latter. Life is gonna be good. :boom:

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I agree that most people are not willing to pay $600-$800 for a phone that will still have serious software issues to resolve when released.

I never paid more than $210 for a phone before the Librem 5, but I also never cared whether a phone succeeded or not before I preordered the Librem 5. I have a Xiaomi Redmi Note 7, and it has 10 times the CPU performance of both the Librem 5 and PinePhone, but I couldn’t care less about it. I haven’t the slightest desire to crack it open and see what is inside.

If Xiaomi went bankrupt tomorrow, I wouldn’t shed a single tear for the company (although I would feel bad for the employees who lost their jobs), because it isn’t trying to change anything that I deem important. If either Purism or PINE64 go under, however, I will scream in frustration.


Ok, putting of my “purism” mantle to give a personal opinion on this. And please consider what I am about to say next as my personal opinion, as in “my opinions are my own and do not reflect on any organization that I am a member of”.

So please do not interpret this as an official reply from purism, it is my personal opinion.

The Librem 5 phone costs $700 because you are not just financing a the production of hardware, for other external community projects to build software on top of that.

You are financing a full team of developers paid full time to develop a full stack hardware and software components. From the hardware to kernel work that is upstreamed to operating system, to applications, that are used on that stack, that is as much as possible upstreamed and made available for other projects to work from.

Some examples of that:

  • Creating a library (libhandy), that allows to make pre existing linux GTK applications into adaptive applications that can be used on a phone and tablet.
    This library has been extremely influential in the development of GTK applications in the last few years and in applications made with the Linux phone in mind, made by several groups and developers.

  • Upstreaming work for modemmanager to support audio calls and in the future mms

  • Creating a mobile shell (phosh) based in GNOME session, that is adaptive and can be used in Linux phones, tablets and even desktops.

By the way this shell phosh, which is free, is the default shell in several community edition Operating Systems that have or will ship with the pinephone (PostmarketOS, Mobian, Manjaro).

Large part of the development of that shell was made by purism developers paid with those $700 that a Librem 5 costs.
Yes, postmarketOS developers and from other projects are making contributes to phosh which is wonderfull.

  • Creating or modifying applications to serve as the base apps of a phone; calls app, chat app, making the default browser (epiphany) adaptive for a phone screen. These are some examples.
    This work was also made with purism developers paid by those $700 that the Librem 5 phone costs.

And again this work we did trickled down to some of the community projects that are working on images for the pinephone.

So by buying a Librem 5 for $700, you are not just helping the development of a full stack, hardware, operating systems and apps, and also allowing a group of developers the conditions to work on it full time.
You are also helping some of the community editions and operating systems for the Pinephone

The pinephone model is to develop the hardware and then work with the community projects for those projects to do the software work. This lowers their production costs. And some of those community projects have benefited of the work made by Purism developers paid by the costs of the Librem 5 phone.

This last part does not annoy me at all. Hey it’s all free software, please use it, fork it, upstream changes, make use of it. Have fun breaking it and filling bug reports.

That is part of our mission, Free software.

But this analysis of, project A managed to do it with less because their model is cheaper than project B, seems to me a bit simplistic.

There are other factors at play.


Off-topic but needs to be said:
Amos, your posts here, on r/purism, and apparently also on Youtube are always so well-worded, well-researched, and sourced. You are clearly very knowledgeable about both the hardware and software on these phones, and I really appreciate whenever I see your username somewhere because I know the post will be informative. Seriously, thank you.

On topic:
It’s unfortunate that the upstream issue for MMS on ModemManager has seen so little attention. Would voting for it change anything? Or are the votes not used for bug prioritization?


Thanks for saying that. COVID-19 has given me lots of time to waste on obsessing about the Librem 5! :slight_smile:

There is a Thumb Up button in the GNOME ModemManager bug report that you can click. You can also leave a message there saying you think this is important to fix.

I believe implementing MMS is outside of ModemManager’s scope. However, if anyone would like to help with MMS support before we eventually get to it ourselves (which may take some time since it’s not the highest priority thing on our TODO list yet), I believe the best way to start would be to read and get familiar with mmsd source code: and then try to write a ModemManager-based plugin for it (from a quick glance it seems its oFono-specific code is pretty nicely separated, so it shouldn’t be hard). I think this should be a task that a reasonably motivated community member might be able to easily take and progress on, which should speed things up and put the UI support higher on our TODO lists :wink:


It costs $700 because Librem invested so much time and money using blob free (as much as possible) hardware so essentially designed a phone from scratch. The pinephone from my understanding relied heavily on existing circuit blocks and hardware to cut costs. You’re comparing apples to oranges I’m afraid.

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It is awesome to see all of the posts from all of the other members. It has been a long while since I checked to see what works and what still does not on the Librem 5. Does any member know or have a link to that list? I understand the MMS function is still a work in progress. How about connecting to LTE on a cell phone provider? How about 5ghz wifi? I would be curious. Six months is a long time to wait, but it we are a lot further along than in previous iterations, I may have to put my name back on the list for a Librem 5.

I wanted to let the group know I switched my Pinephone over to Mobian from UBPorts and it has a 100 times better performance. All things work outside of MMS. If it had double the processor speed and double the ram, while improving battery life, the device would be ready for Prime Time.

That really surprises me. I wonder if this is some optimization issue, because I doubt that GTK/Phosh is that much lighter than Qt/Ubuntu Touch. How much RAM and % of CPU is being consumed after boot and you haven’t opened any apps?

How’s the battery life on Mobian/Phosh? From what I read, UBports was the project that figured out how to get the cellular modem to wake up the rest of the system when there was a phone call, but it would take a while to get that code into the other PinePhone ports.

MemTotal: 1976244KB
MemFee 877504
MemAvailable: 1246584

I had expected the UBPorts to be more polished than the Mobian version. On the phone I received, there were tons of issues. I was thinking it was just the way it was going to be. I read up on how well the Mobian version was working out. I installed it and it has been night and day. Don’t get me wrong. There have been challenges with the text app all of sudden not working and needing me to restart the machine.

As far as battery life. I would have to guess around 4-5 active hours of use. I think for Mobian, that is its weakest link.

For me, on UBPorts, the phone call app was terrible. It would only allow me to call in 3G and only text in 4G. That was utter ridiculousness.

I have not had that issue on Mobian. I was running on an SD card for a day or so, then flashed over to Mobian. It would be super cool if both Teams shared info. Maybe they are, but average users are not told in the Pine forums.

I would be interested to hear how my experiences compare to Librem5 users. For me, if Pine could get a bigger battery, bit faster processor, and more RAM, this thing would be ready for Prime Time.


Do you mean by this

a) an LTE data call?


b) VoLTE?

Putting aside support in the software, this may also be dependent on support in the modem, and hence may depend on which modem (and hence which country).

As far as I know, LTE data calls work.

Since the price question was asked again, I’ll re-link to our Breaking Ground post that gives a great explanation for why the Librem 5 costs what it does and why it has taken the monumental effort it has taken to create:

Beyond that post, hopefully it’s easy to understand that a major part of any business’s cost is in its employees. If you aren’t building a phone from scratch, are using cheaper off-the-shelf hardware, and are only paying for some hardware engineers I imagine it’s a lot cheaper. But it’s also not enough to change the world in the way we all want to see.

I guess it would be enough if all someone is interested in is their having a phone that runs some sort of Linux while everyone else around them runs Android and iOS. But if that’s your goal why not just run Android (technically Linux kernel) or one of its forks?

For me, it’s not good enough to just have a Linux kernel, special mobile user space, and custom apps that have to be written from scratch or ported from existing projects. We already have that with the fragmented mess that is Android. We don’t need another fragmented mess with mobile Linux yet as young as this ecosystem is, we are already getting there!

What I want to see is the Linux ecosystem we are all used to and love on desktops and laptops, to extend to my pocket. This is why we didn’t write yet another mobile-only OS for the Librem 5. Instead we focused our efforts on making PureOS fit in a mobile form-factor. This means you don’t have to take a Linux application you love and rewrite/port it to run on our phone, all the existing apps in PureOS already run on the Librem 5, they just don’t fit in the same way that websites hardcoded to 1024x768 screens 15 years ago rendered on mobile browsers but didn’t fit.

Our convergent approach works better long-term because you don’t have to ask a developer to support yet another operating system (WIndows/MacOS/Linux/Android/iOS/) or port anything. You simply tell them to make sure their Linux desktop application works well when the window is resized down to a phone screen. Purism has invested in building the tools developers need to make that easy and the FOSS community in general is now starting to realize the importance in factoring in small screen sizes into their UI just like web developers did a decade ago.

Purism is paying not just for hardware development and all the engineers that go along with designing and building a phone from scratch, but also directly paying for software development (phosh/phoc/libhandy/chatty/PureOS itself/kernel/etc etc), and also paying for people to support the hardware and software for any customer who needs help using PureOS on our products. This is the approach you must take if you actually want to make a dent in the Android/iOS duopoly.

I wrote about the power of incentives in the current Mobile App ecosystem last week in this post:

I close the article with this statement:

Of course, the strongest way to change the current app ecosystem is by changing the financial incentive. That’s where you come in. Each technology choice you make is a vote for the future you want to see. Voting with your dollar to support companies like Purism that are building hardware and software that protect your privacy sends a message to other companies that privacy matters to you and if they want you as a customer, it should matter to them too.

Every technology choice is a vote for the future, if you believe in the future we are trying to build, please consider voting for it.


I was provided a similar rational earlier in the posting by Amosbatto. I understand. Please know, I am an avid supporter. I have a lIbrem 15 v4. I was on the list for a Librem5 for a while. I will be again. My point boils down to this. It ca be a challenge for some individuals to put down $600-$800 for a device. If I was not interested in privacy, security, as well as having devices you control, I would not have purchased the Librem15 or any other device. The Purism Team does exceptional work. My question originated around MMS on the LIbrem5. I was interested in seeing if it had been resolved. It would appear that it is still a work in progress, for not only Purism, but more Linux developers. I have been in the realm of Logistics for over 30 years. My recommendation to your Team is work on communication. Most Teams think that if their internal communicates and provides customers with possibly vague interpretive language, is communication. For openness, customers should know the good, bad, and ugly as it happens. I know Purism is not a super large company. If you were the Apple of the Linux World and one knew the products would be released every 12 months, then customers would understand the entire time waiting, their new device was on its way, for that particular month. That being said, I do have a better understand of your costs, but would caution your Team in raising prices when the device is still under work and evolution.

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Back to MMS. I do not like it but some people send me MMS and I do not even see who the sender is … It is very annoying to have to go to the desktop computer and log in to the operator to download the MMS - and then it is just a text message ! I have of course switched MMS off in my Android phone. I would like Librem5 to send an automatic reply to the sender “I cannot receive MMS” as soon as it receives a MMS. Pictures can be sent to my email account.

I understand that it is very easy to send a photo directly with MMS but personally I do not want to receive those. What about automatically rerouting every MMS to the email ?

I would guess that that is very doable … but only after the L5 is capable of recognizing and receiving an MMS at all.