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
- 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.
- 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.