[MyL5] First Impressions of Evergreen (Tim's story)

Hi everyone, I am finally de-lurking to contribute. I’ll relate my early experience in the hope it might help people reading who are waiting for their order or thinking about ordering. I regret the length but don’t have time to make it shorter. I don’t spend much time online but I will come back to read the forum and interact when I can.

About Me (so you understand my biases as a customer)

  • Typical non-technical smartphone user in the American midwest, familiar with iOS, Android, and WindowsPhone (my favorite mobile OS until Win10Mobile ruined it and it dwindled out). I don’t know how to use command lines, nor do I care. I have more pressing things to do than play with a phone all day. It’s a personal communication tool, not a hobby for me.
  • Was disappointed when Canonical gave up on the Ubuntu Phone.
  • Do not use iOS/Android apps much, just do phone calls, texting, email, web surfing—and Signal and occasional ride share.
  • Wanted to encourage free market development of Linux smartphones to “put my money where my mouth is” regarding customer choice and libre hardware/software.
  • Have also been trying some of the user-friendly Linux distributions to migrate my personal computing life to in 2021. I’m strictly a newbie here.
  • Also bought a Pine Tab to encourage a market for Linux tablets.

About My Order Dates

  • Backed the project on September 7, 2017
  • Order was processed October 13, 2017
  • My top three batch preferences were Birch, Chestnut, Dogwood.
  • When Chestnut notification arrived, I pushed back to Dogwood out of concern I might not benefit from too early a prototype.
  • When Dogwood notification arrived with the clear notification about the phone hanging every so many hours, I figured I’ve waited this long so pushed back to Evergreen. It had taken so long by this point, what’s another few months. $600 is a LOT of money to me, might as well get Evergreen. I didn’t care about the certification. I’m not a fan of the FCC.
  • My Evergreen was shipped Nov 17th and arrived a week later.

My Initial Impressions

  • I am holding the future of smart phones…I hope. I want to believe we can have a market for smart phones with hardware switches that run libre software, and I think we must participate in that market so it kindles into a steady flame of alternatives to the authoritarian duopoly of you know who.
  • The thickness doesn’t bother me because it enables customer self-service or upgrading. Just need a Phillips 000 screwdriver! Screws were perfectly tightened (not too much, never loose, firm yet easy to unscrew)
  • The screen looks great to my middle aged eyes, especially with reading glasses on :slight_smile:
  • It’s neat to watch Linux boot up on a smart phone. Goodbye authoritarian corporations.
  • The SIM card extractor is itself well-designed. The box and contents make me feel like this is a premium product, albeit immature at this time in January 2021.
  • I use my existing ATT prepaid SIM card to try the phone for a little bit every week or so. Mint Mobile didn’t know what to make of my Librem5 when I tried them. Maybe try activating their SIM in a different phone they do recognize, then put it into your Librem5?
  • Hardware switches are wonderfully done. I call them On switches because I think the natural default should everything off, then the customer decides what level of exposure they want. Many might leave only cellular turned on every day. But sometimes when I flip a “kill” switch back on, the phone doesn’t recognize it.
  • I’m very disappointed by battery life—looking forward to the proper suspension being implemented.
  • I’m very concerned with audio quality on the recipient end of phone calls.
  • On a positive note, I’m getting app and OS updates frequently.

SUMMARY

  • Purism is delivering Evergreen batch phones and, while it took longer than I’d expected, this phone is filled with promise on its way to realization. Depending on your needs and expectations, it is “rough” at this stage, but maybe that is fine if you are a tinkerer and an advanced Linux user.
  • Notta Pro’s YouTube channel review covers many of the rough things I’ve noted myself with my phone–there are many rough edges right now. But I balance that fact with the good that is also in the Librem 5 Evergreen, and the good that will hopefully come with more software updates over time.
  • I cannot use this phone as my daily driver yet. It sounds bad to people and the battery goes quickly (but it’s great that the battery is very easily replaceable).
  • Customer Support was very responsive when I thought I might have a charging problem (I didn’t).
  • My primary concern is that people tell me I sound “muffled” and “underwater” when I call them. Not what I paid $600 for. I’m in touch with Support about it this week to see what they think.

If you want some more observations, you can hear them in a podcast episode I just published. Special thanks to amarok for the forum post that helped me figure out that the reason my phone could not reach the update servers upon unboxing was that the phone’s date was set too far into the future.
Best regards,
Tim

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I think it’s great for the community that everyone here is not experienced Linux users. That gives a different healthy perspective.

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To fix that I understand that you have to play with the sound settings adjusting the input levels of the microphones…

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This is the sign of a true connoisseur! I salute you, sir :+1:
And thanks for a good post.

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Thank you, Jonas, glad to be here. I’m not sure why my reply to your post doesn’t include it in quotes, but I think there are many customers who would like to abandon Apple and Google for something like a Librem 5, without having the dedication or the experience to tinker at a deep level. How the “surface level” of using the phone helps us escape the duopoly may be a big factor in how well it sells to a larger audience.

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Thank-you for that link, Eugenr. I had stumbled across that post a couple weeks back, and I did increase the Mic input level and call people back. They report the sound is still muffled and under-water sounding, just not as faint. So the amplitude went up, but the audio quality of the sound itself stayed the same.

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Thank-you, JR-Fi. The fact Purism has these assembled with such care, and the SIM extractor is made large enough to have a good grip on it and with a hole you can use to hang it on a peg so you don’t lose it in a junk drawer, says a lot.

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this is what I call sincere review.
regards

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Quote from one of the developers:

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I’d suggest actually decreasing input level, it should make it sound better.

Anyway, yeah, it’s known, but it’s just a software thing - see also my post in Librem 5 Ready-To-Market? (although I think I’ve changed my opinion about it being “good enough” already, I’ll try to spend some time on it again soon ;))

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To include a quote, highlight the phrase you’re referring to. The option to Quote it in your reply will pop up. Select it and it will be added to your reply.

I wonder if you can the proper battery at Batteries Plus Bulbs outlets?

I can see it on ebay, so I don’t think it will take too long for Pottery and Pulps to pick it up.

We haven’t heard yet anything about suspend. we have heard that @dos has worked or he is working for the muffled-sound problem, we have heard that people have been working for cameras but I have not yet read anything about the suspend which is very important to my opinion.

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Nobody is working on suspend explicitly, but there have been some power management improvements lately that will also matter for suspend, for instance https://source.puri.sm/Librem5/linux-next/-/merge_requests/279

Personally I believe that it’s way more important to keep extending runtime battery life and treat suspend as the very last thing in the chain of things needed to be done for good power management. Suspend isn’t a magical answer to all battery life problems - if you need to suspend to get reasonable battery life you’re going to be very limited with what you can do with your phone.

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Well, I could just use it … as a phone? :wink: It wakes up and rings, I talk, I hangup, it goes to sleep sometimes after.

I know that there are not too many people who do not want to be bothered by their phones, but I am one of them. Fine for me if it just alerts me when a call or SMS comes in.

Anything else I want from my phone: I switch it on. Only thing that I could be missing would be if during suspend there could be no alert for appointments in my calendar. But I’d get over that, too, because I’m used to check from time to time.

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I perfectly understand that and I’m looking forward to be able to suspend as well - it would match my usage pattern pretty well. That said, we’re probably in the minority and I still believe that reaching for suspend too early is just sweeping your problems under the carpet :wink:

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From what I understood suspend mode would only work as a phone if you don’t follow the IP narrative. I moved with my family to a self hosted matrix instance using it to call and text each other which is basically the old phone functionality - however as far as I understand a suspended phone would not ring as it could not be woken up by the modem as the modem is only triggered by “real phone calls”.

that’s correct, suspend itself is not enough, there should also be wake timer and software optimised to use wake-timer. Eg. Nokia solved that with iphb 1o years ago which was making suspend while adjusting system monotonic timer (to become less monotonic). but that requires software which is either aware of non-monotonic wake-timers (passive) or actively using iphb timers instead.
In other words - adaptive ui is not enough for mobile pc, it also needs adaptive software.
I don’t know how purism is going to solve this, but I’m not aware of any method to solve it on a platform level (without touching the software). again - similar to ui (which also needs software changes).

Depends on the modem used. In theory, both the cellular and local wireless modems could trigger a wake event on the CPU. There are wake-on-lan protocols that will need to be supported.