[MyL5] Librem 5 Evergreen: first impressions

Delivery
As already reported, yesterday I received my Evergreen. Backed the campaign on third day (Aug, 27th 2017), received first shipping e-mail on Dec, 2nd 2020 and received the package late in the evening on Dec, 11th 2020. I think this is a marvelous achievement of the Purism team!

Mindset and expectations
Before starting my first impressions of the Librem 5 I think it is important to mention how I perceive crowdfunding campaigns. I backed quite a lot of open source and security campaigns before the Librem 5 (e.g. Protonmail, Jolla Tablet which I was very lucky to receive, Mycroft is still running), but I never expect to see any end-result, but I like to ride and see how things are progressing. I consider it as my contribution towards goals I like. When the team actually delivers, this is a bonus for me, so no stress if they do not deliver (or it takes forever). If somebody is backing crowdfunding campaigns but actually thinks he/she is ordering a product, like on Amazon, then I think a lot a disappointment will follow during the process.

Shipping impressions
During the shipping process I received continuous updates of the status and location of the package. Paying taxes was also easy, had to pay EUR 123 for taxes and something else. Based on currency rate of 2017 I expected EUR 99. However, I was surprised that my phone-number which I provided to Purism had been shared with DHL. I cannot remember giving explicit consent to this sharing of my phone-number. The time between first shipping e-mail (Dec, 2nd) and actually delivery (Dec, 11th) seems a little but long too me, but might also due to Corona and delivery to EU. On the outside of the box it was noted that it is a developer phone. Is this due to not having right certifications? In the box there was a handwriting card of Todd. Very nice touch! My Librem 5 did not ship with any glass protection, where other people reported it being delivered with dual glass protection. Would this have anything to do with the confusion about the double glass protection layers which both needed to be removed? I hope I didn’t receive a refurbished device :wink:

Hardware impressions
I love the look of the Librem 5. I really love the quality of the screen. Love the plastic back-plate with a firm grip.
Is it bulky? Depends what you are used to. It is thinner than my previous phones like Nokia N900 or Nokia 9300(i) communicators, but of course is much ticker than my current Sony Xperia XA2 or any other current phone in the market today. See also some pictures I uploaded.
Is it heavy? Of course it much heavier than current flagships, but not so heavy that I dislike it. It feels like a firm grip. The bottom feels much heavier, due to the battery than the top of the phone. The top almost feels like their is still some room left in the case.
Is it getting hot? Yes, it getting quite warm, but not hot.
How about the tolerances? There is a little bit of tolerance with the back-plate, it can be moved a little bit on lower side on the phone where you can detach the back-plate from the phone. Also when touching the hardware kill switches these make a little bit of noise because there is some tolerance. However, the tolerances are very minor and most likely will not be noticed by everybody, you have to pay very close attention to notice.
What about the Librem5 print on the side? I remember that it was announced that there wasn’t going to be any prints on the device, but I am not sure, maybe this announcement was related to laptops and not the phone. But it is very subtle, and actually very nice.
Also nice surprise to see the earpieces. The volume buttons currently do not work, but the quality of the sound is rather good (but I am not an audio expert).

Software impressions
Apps (out-of-the-box) on the phone work fine. After updating rebooting and manually adjusting time WiFi and 4G did work. I was actually surprised how smooth the scrolling goes in general but also in Gnome Browser and Firefox-ESR. Works really well! Probably not near any of the smoothness of current flagship of iPhone and Android, but the scrolling smoothness is definitely above anything I expected for this software release. I also like to phone shell/GUI, somehow reminds me a little bit of the BlackBerry 10 OS, which I still consider one of the most effective OS (from a consumer perspective, of course not from open source perspective). I also have tested regular phone calls, which seem to work fine, although when calling it is dropping from 4G to 2G, 4G is only being used for the data-connection.

General use:
Would I recommend this phone to friends or family? Definitely not! If you do not have the right expectations, you will certainly be very disappointed. If you buy it, I hope you do it for the love and hope of a better future and are also fine with current limitations.
I am going to use it as my daily driver? Probably not. I need a reliable phone, and the Librem 5 currently doesn’t thick this box mostly due to battery life.
What do I need to use it as my daily? I am hoping to use this phone as daily driver somewhere in the future as software improvements are going fast currently. My improvement wishes for the future would be:

  • Longer battery life and reliable indication of remaining battery life;
  • Contact and calender apps with general support for Carddav and Caldav;
  • Better security for data-at-rest: device encryption is a must-have, without device encryption I am very reluctant to putting any personal info on this phone;
  • Better support and security for group message communication: Signal support! I really like XMPP (with OMEMO), but nobody outside the FOSS community uses it (same for Matrix) and there is also no working XMPP client with reliable notifications of new messages for iOS. I know Signal is also a walled garden and therefore is Single Point of Failure and also Moxie has some strong beliefs, but currently it is the only usable rather secure option other (non FOSS) people are willing to consider and use. As a side-note: SMS is insecure and cannot be used with groups and MMS is not supported in my country anymore (for some years already);
  • Better security for regular calling communication: support for 4G calling. 2G calling is much less secure than 4G calling;
  • Better security for data in motion: GUI support for OpenVPN connections (probably I can make it work with terminal, but I am lazy and prefer good GUI options for VPNs);
  • Better usability: auto rotate based on device orientation (again: I am lazy);
  • Better usability: file explorer (like nautilus) which automatically scales nicely.

Conclusion
I think I will have a lot of fun playing with the phone, installing and trying all kind of apps and seeing it “grow” in the future. I would like to express my appreciation to the Purism team for this continuing journey and for their hard work. Something everybody thinks was impossible to do, is now being delivered!

Some pictures


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I also like to phone shell/GUI, somehow reminds me a little bit of the BlackBerry 10 OS, which I still consider one of the most effective OS

I miss BB10 as well! For your iOS XMPP needs I think Siskin will get their if theyre able to get their proposed updates rolling.

Loved the writeup, thanks for the pictures an in-depth thoughts (covered some things others havent mentioned yet and appreciated that).

Thanks you very much for this detailed impressions, I really appreciate your effort. :slightly_smiling_face: Kind of rare that someone has exactly the same wishes as me for future improvements to see this as proper daily driver - nothing unrealistic and totally possible within the next months.
As you mentioned DHL, can I assume you are also located in Germany? Being curious about how easy the transport and customs will work.

thanks for the really nice detailed impressions! Just the type of info I was looking for. I’m still waiting to get that email myself saying my L5 Evergreen is ready :slight_smile:

I’m also a really big fan of the UX on BB10, so it was good to hear you compare it to that!

Enjoy your new phone!

Yes, but Todd writing those might soon become a bottleneck in the shipping process. :slight_smile:

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IDK if I’m in minority, here. Based on all initial reviews, it would be fair to call this a Developer Phone and not advertise it as anything else. On the sales page , they make it look like it’s for anyone. Adding a flagship device pricing , unsuspecting shopper would buy this with confidence. This phone is at least 6 mos to a year from being a headache & tinkering free device.

At that point , I would be willing to pay $1000 for this marvel (w the same hardware) :slight_smile:

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IDK if I’m in minority, here.

I don’t think a minority, but since we’re on the forums I’d day we’re not just a standard user either.

People interested but not enough to make an account or wait for shipment are biding their time, so those that backed and have it are more likely to be OK with the “Dev” feel (and I havent seen a review or post where they state they’re using it as their main device yet so that pans out IMO)

nice review. essential and that from an overall view.
Regards

I think that it might be fair to compare the Evergreen batch to the first iPhone or the first Android. It is more developer friendly by design, but it is also a first generation product, and probably should be compared to other products in their first generation. I suppose the difference might be that through software updates alone (except for what the PLS8 offers), this device will gain functionality much more quickly. Purism is letting people delay their Evergreen delivery until the camera is functional, or the Fir batch for a much more polished product.

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I just want my L5. I think it is really cool. And I’ll use a $25 tracphone till it’s more daily driver friendly. You guys will be a big part of getting it working that way. Purism will help too.
I don’t care what it is I just want it now!

I remember HTC Dream, was an awful product. But comparing to WinMobile was a fresh air :slight_smile:

Yes Librem5 is Beautiful.

I would like this, too. I placed a vote for it on the Fund Your App page.

Do you mind sharing your cellular provider? Do SMS work? I want to add your info to this page.

Change “ticker” to “thicker” and “thick” to “tick”. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Say this 10 times as fast as you can: "How many ticks thunk they were thick if ticks could think?

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It seems my expectations/requirements are about the same as yours. I feel I am on track to be well satisfied with this phone - Thanks for your post!

Yes, most probably. But that seems to be a taboo subject for Purism. It seems they intentionally avoid any details about certification progress and process. We don’t know if they even started it. I wonder if all the functionalities must be demonstrated during certification tests, like cameras -that don’t work yet?

Anyways, their silence makes me suspect the worst, that the certification will take a long time (a few months) and until then we’ll see only shipments of ‘developer phones’ and mass production of Librem 5 will be on hold.

They need the money… to build the backers phones (speculation).

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Let’s hope it will be the only one.
Writers cramp seems like one of the more surmountable obstacles.

Service toot:
I tagged all the “Evergreen in the wild” threads with [My L5].
Hope it’s helpful and nobody is offended :grimacing:

Edit: changed to
[MyL5]
as a better search term.

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The fact that the notes are hand written does warrant the conclusion that we are still talking dozens of L5’s being shipped, not hundreds or even thousands.
But we already guessed that, of course.

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Another day of playing and testing impressions

Some answers to questions asked

Quite easy. I received a sms with a link from DHL. Clicking on the link I was able to see package information and taxes, which I could pay immediately by online banking. After that I also almost immediately received a confirmation of payment being done. Did not have to upload any documents or something like that. Was also offered other delivery options, such as storing during holiday, delivery at the neighbours, etc., etc. but didn’t need those options.

Yes, SMS seems to work fine with a nice notification in top-menu and also blue LED lighting and subtle sound. Tested both receiving and sending from one EU network to another EU network.

Hardware

  • Charging the phone at night till morning seems to only charge up to 58%, but after restarting 100% is indicated. During the day you have to pay close attention to charging level otherwise it will shut down;
  • There seems to be a problem with recognizing SD cards (see screenshot: sda). Tried 3 different SD cards (older 4/8GB and newer 64GB), with different partition (MBR/GPT) and different formats (FAT32, EXT4), nothing seems to help. Contacted another backer, he/she didn’t have this issue. I fear this might be a hardware issue with my phone. Or maybe I am doing something incorrectly? Have contacted Purism Support, but no response yet, hope they are also enjoying the weekend :slight_smile:
  • Sometimes have to disable WiFi (or even restart) to get back internet connection;
  • Tried a USB-C to USB-A and ethernet adapter (see link below): works perfect both for internet and USB memory (see screenshot: sdb). It is just a computer :slight_smile: In lock-down mode internet is still available over ethernet. However, reconnecting the USB-C adapter and disabling lock-down mode seems to crash and shut down the phone. But restarting is fast :wink:

Surface USB-C to Ethernet and USB 3.0 Adapter:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/use-the-surface-usb-c-to-ethernet-and-usb-3-0-adapter-e2524d8d-0d73-0d61-c399-595873343349

Some other pictures and screenshots

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