Hello. I have used a Pinephone Pro for about a year now and I have learned a lot. Here are my thoughts. When I talk about Linux phones I mainly mean the Librem 5, the Pinephone, and the Pinephone Pro.
In 2018 Librem 5 developer kits were shipped. The Pinephone Braveheart edition was released in 2020. Both Pine64 and Purism both mean their phones to be for freedom. Meaning that you can have just about full control over the device. These devices are also meant for privacy, because the operating systems are open source therefore there is nothing to hide (although certain components remain with proprietary firmware). Purism creates software for the Librem 5, while Pine64 only produces the hardware, and does not make software. Because Purism has their head in the game much more than Pine64 does, Purism has had to raise the price of the Librem 5 many times, while the price of the Pinephone has not changed. It’s also been a much harder load for Purism to develop their own software and everything that goes along with that.
The Situation Today & The Issue:
It’s 2023 and privacy, security and freedom are still issues. Unfortunately, Linux phones simply aren’t an option for many people. They aren’t an option mainly because of the lack of development. Features like good battery life, good camera quality, and general reliability are not in Linux phones. These features are a must have for most people and I can understand why. The work being done on these devices have been done by Purism and the Pine64 community. The Pine64 community has done many things to make Linux phones better, but there are still so many things to do before Linux phones are usable for most people. The community generally does not get paid. It’s mainly donations that support them. The community works on the development of Linux phones in their free time. Purism has their own developers working on the Librem 5, but only a few. Because of both of these situations that we have (a community that largely doesn’t get paid, and Purism that doesn’t have that many developers) we haven’t seen the amount of development we would like to have seen, over the fast few years. The main issue is that we don’t have enough software development.
In the past Purism has partnered with companies that have shared the same philosophy, it’s time for Purism to partner with other companies to help create more software, and to improve it, at a much faster pace than before. One thing that is innovative about the Librem 5 is that many companies can have their own OS for it, so companies can contribute to the software stack, and specialize it for their own needs. Purism also needs to hire more developers. An easy way to help get development is to do a “challenge” where the community comes in and (for example) fixes a list of issues, and receives prizes from Purism (maybe a discount on the L5?). I think that this would be a great way to help with development. Pine64 has done something like this in the past. Again though, Purism really needs more developers. I think that Pine64 needs to help pay the community for their hard work. Pine64 hasn’t done much to help with software, and I really think that if they want to go “compete with Apple” they need to get their head in the game and at least help pay for development.
Purism has done a lot of work in making Linux phones (that work) a reality. Thank you Purism! Pine64 has released Linux phones as well, Thank you to Pine64! Purism’s reputation isn’t getting any better and I think that they need to make a move to gain back reputation. Thank you.