Re: librem-5-smartphone-final-specs-announced


@kieran Speculation is endemic to the tech sector at large. How many people out to buy a brand new phone (not a model from last year) do not compare it to the model from some other brand that is soon to be released? It has already been admitted that for this focus on security/privacy (which I don’t take for granted), you’ll be paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 to $600 more than you would for a comparable device without that focus. So if you had brought up the GNOME factor exclusively I may have agreed with you, but if it turns out Purism singled out the camera as the secondary selling point(which I highly doubt)…well that would be doubly disappointing for me personally.

Jt0, I’ll readily admit I didn’t phrase that bit correctly, and appreciate your thoroughness, but I did already realize it wasn’t 720p we were talking about. That said, I stand by what I said because if the focus won’t be on performance, and won’t be on social media for most of us (I assume), then what would be the need for such a large screen?

I realize that making this point here is like criticizing an iPhone on the Apple forums, but one of the huge upsides to Linux on desktop is how much faster it makes old and new machines run alike. This, on the other hand, will be a significant downgrade from all of its competitors. It’s not that privacy and security are not worth sacrifice…it’s that the sacrifice being asked here is going back 5 years in time in terms of hardware performance AND paying the 5 to 6 hundred dollar premium.

@amosbatto I would contest that. My thought process was taking into account the market as a whole and what sacrifices would be tolerated to make this a reasonable economic proposition to someone who’s wanting a bit more privacy. That customer would more likely want fewer more refined hardware features as opposed to all of them but old and worse. This would especially be more effective in an era where the market is saturated with ridiculous things like a phone the size of a tablet with a 4k screen and 6 cameras. The customer that knows just how stupid overkill that is would be willing to let go of most of that stuff they’ll never use.

Do I think this is objectively the best and totally worth it option for all of maybe 4 thousand paranoid hacker types across the world who will change out a modem? Yes, absolutely and some other enthusiasts will join in as well. On some level I come pretty close to that description (it’s not an insult), but if we’re talking about the future of privacy here…this product will not expand privacy consciousness or the free philosophy, nor make it any more accessible.

And that’s why I’m making these comments, not to be a contrarian or to show off how disappointed I am, but to encourage Purism to take those considerations more seriously next time if they get the chance. Because otherwise pretty soon they’ll turn all your concerns into marketing points as Apple and Facebook are already in the process of doing, and thus the rest of the world will care less and less if you have the option to be private/free or not.


The question is how is Purism going to convince people to pay a lot for a lower spec phone that is capable of covering their development costs and be the guinea pigs for a new mobile ecosystem (some features won’t work, there will be bugs, and the number of apps will be very limited at first). Purism needs to attract a certain group of people who are willing to pay extra and endure all the tribulations of a new system. The best way to attract that group of hardcore users is to offer them features that they can’t get anywhere else.

At this stage, Purism can’t market to buyers who aren’t willing to pay high prices for lower spec hardware, because its development costs are simply too high. It would be great if the company could market to people who want security a little bit, but aren’t willing to give up much to get it, but Purism doesn’t have millions in venture capital to produce a phone like that and its software isn’t going to be ready for users like that in the next two months.

In the short term, Purism has to focus on the niche users who are passionate about certain features of the phone and are willing to pay a lot for those features. People who care deeply about software freedom, user digital rights, security/privacy or planned obsolescence are willing to pay a lot for the Librem 5 and settle for a phone with a lower resolution screen, less RAM and less Flash memory and weak CPU cores. They will endure all the problems with a new mobile OS and its limited app store, plus recommend it to their friends, post on social media, report bugs, create apps and translate them, install frequent buggy updates, (and waste time arguing about it on the forum :slight_smile: ) to help the mobile Linux ecosystem grow.

In other words, Purism is marketing to the right set of people. After it has recovered its development costs and it has a couple hundred apps in the PureOS store, it can start producing more competitive phones that will appeal to larger and larger sets of mainstream users. Todd Weaver is very clear in his public interviews that he wants to eventually reach the mainstream (so that his daughters don’t have to give up their digital rights to participate in the modern world) and to do that Purism has to make a phone and online services which are convenient and easy for ordinary people to use.

Purism will eventually get to place where it can offer a phone with better specs at a more competitive price. I don’t think that you will be disappointed with version 2 or 3 of the phone (as long as you don’t need powerful CPU cores and a high quality camera that the i.MX 8M can’t provide).

What we are really arguing about is what should be version 1 of the phone that will allow it to be a commercial success to repay its development costs. If we examine what you want in version 1:

  • No camera
  • Higher resolution screen
  • Battery sealed in case
  • Don’t worry about longevity of phone

vs what Purism is offering in version 1:

  • 13 & 8 MP camera
  • 720p screen
  • Replaceable battery
  • Design against planned obsolescence

Most of the early adopters buying the Librem 5 are willing to live with a lower resolution screen in their phone, but they can’t live with a phone without a camera. Trading a higher-resolution screen for no camera won’t reach a wider group of early adopters for the Librem 5.

If you get rid of the replaceable battery and the openable case, you will lose the tinkers and environmentalists who want a phone that is fixable, but you don’t gain that much. You will save a couple dollars on the phone’s bill of materials, but you still need an openable case to be able to change the cellular modem. If you decide to get rid of the M.2 card and solder down the modem, then you either have to use a global modem with proprietary blobs in the kernel (which would cause thousands of people to cancel their orders) or you have to produce 4 different models (PLS8-US, PLS-E, BM818-E1 and BM818-A1) which would increase the manufacturing costs. Since you need to have an openable case to change the cellular modem, you might as well provide a replaceable battery as well.

Getting rid of the goal of fighting planned obsolescence and providing lifetime software support may save Purism some money over the long term, but it also dramatically lowers the long-term value of the phone and people’s willingness to invest in the phone, if they think it will only be supported for 2-3 years like a normal Android phone. Also, providing a lifetime of software support doesn’t cost Purism that much, because NXP will be providing kernel updates for the next 9 years for the SoC, and Purism can rely on the Linux kernel, GTK/GNOME, Qt/KDE/Plasma Mobile, Debian, and most of the other software it uses to keep providing updates. Providing updates will be less work than for an ordinary phone since the Librem 5 doesn’t have binary blobs in U-Boot and the kernel. Purism certainly won’t spend half a million euros upgrading PureOS to Linux 5.X like Fairphone spent on the Android 7 upgrade.

The camera probably costs around $15 - 25, but once you add in $10 - $20 for a higher resolution screen, you aren’t saving much. You are only going to save a couple bucks by gluing down the battery vs making it replaceable, since you need to have an openable case to change the modem. In summary, your design recommendations will lose a lot of passionate Librem 5 buyers and you don’t save very much on the total bill of materials.


I understand that what is being implicitly compared here is … Librem 5 v. what the same money could buy today from a surveillance capitalist. However some of us are also comparing Librem 5 v. our current phone.

In my situation the Librem 5 has more RAM, a bigger screen, more pixels on the screen, more pixels on the rear camera, more pixels on the front camera. While none of those are necessarily unambiguously better aspects, if we are just looking at basic hardware specification numbers (smartphone epeen), those numbers are moving forward.


This is how I’m looking at it also. The specs for the Librem 5 is definitely a step up from my current 2015 phone in every way but the storage. With the SD card, though, that is also taken care of :slight_smile:

There won’t be the massive App Store, but I really don’t view that as a problem. I value freedom above installing a ton of apps on my phone. And as desktop Linux apps are ported to the phone, that gap will start to close.


Same for me. In comparison to my current Galaxy S3 Neo, it’s almost only getting better. Double the RAM, some more pixels. Two (possibly) better cameras.
And back in the day, the S3 was a flagship, originally released with 1GB RAM.

So, I just noticed that my S3 has NFC. Never used it :wink: It also has FM radio, which I used once, I guess.
The only drawback might be the weight of the L5, and maybe the battery standby, but that remains to be seen. L5 has almost double the battery capacity.


For me, I almost don’t care what the specs are. How well does it run PureOS? If it runs well, that should be all that matters. My current phone, an iPhone X, has:

3 GB of RAM,
256 GB of storage,
a 5.8” 1125X2436 OLED screen (with rounded corners and the infamous notch),
a 2.39 GHz hexa-core processor,
dual 12 MP rear cameras with a 7 MP front camera.

This was a $1,149 phone (I didn’t pay that much as I buy used/refurbished devices).

I also have an iPhone SE with 32 GB of storage. For comparison, its specs are:

32 GB storage
4” 640X1136 LCD display
Dual core 1.84 GHz processor
12 MP rear, 1.2 MP front camera

I got the SE for free as they were being disposed of. Despite the difference in specs, both phones run iOS the same. That’s right, the 4-year old SE runs just as well as my X. The only thing the hexa-core processor is needed for is AR.

As for cameras, megapixels isn’t everything. The cameras on the X produce higher quality images than the SE, even though they’re all 12 MP, which admittedly is why I bought the X, as its cameras surpass my digital shooter in everything except zoom ability. Honestly, I’d prefer the Librem 5 NOT have a front camera. Had my Galaxy S Captivate not died, I’d likely still be using it, as it is the perfect size for me, lacks a front camera, and is nearly indestructible with a modular design.

That all said, if the Librem 5 isn’t much larger than my X and has a decent rear camera, I’d be inclined to switch.


I am pretty pleased with all of the specifications.

My one regret is that they didn’t manage to squeeze in slightly more RAM; 4GB seems like a (completely arbitrary) sweet spot to me. But really 3GB is quite enough and it’s exactly the amount I expected, so it’s not disappointing.

I am glad the screen is IPS and not OLED, because I would rather have a screen that’s not susceptible to burn-in than one with the best possible contrast ratio and power consumption. I’m satisfied with the screen resolution, which is close to (but not quite) “Retina” pixel density and will be the highest pixel-density screen I’ve ever owned. VR is not one of my use cases. All of the VR software for phones has been developed for Android and iOS anyway, and I’m not about to develop my own VR experiences, so it would be pointless to have a VR-ready 4k screen.

The removable modem is great. The smart card slot is great. The SD card slot is great. The USB C port is great. It’s great that there are more modem options at launch than originally anticipated.

The camera is better than expected. We can’t judge the quality on the announced specification alone, because resolution is far from being everything. It will, however, be the highest resolution digital camera I’ve ever owned.

I’m glad the battery is relatively large, because I value battery life over thinness. It remains to be seen how many hours we get out of it in practice (not knowing the typical power consumption of the device). I’m happy that it’s replaceable, because it’s likely to fail long before the rest of the device.

In comparisons against other phones, to my mind, raw performance figures and hardware specifications amount to nothing if the other phone has a locked bootloader. They amount to nothing if third party OSes can only support it through labour-intensive reverse-engineering efforts that nonetheless still end up depending on device-specific software components extracted from the original OS that only has a limited supported lifespan. I want a useful piece of hardware, not an unsustainable software maintenance headache that will ultimately become functionally obsolete due to lack of manpower to cater to its undocumented hardware interfaces.

I’m not interested in disposable status symbols and fashion statements. I’m not interested in products that try to psychologically manipulate me or foster a dependence on ultimately inessential online services. I don’t want to buy something that will become more of a burden than an asset. Those products have never been in the running to compete against the Librem 5 as far as I’m concerned.

There have so far only ever been two smartphones I’ve considered buying: the Nokia N900 (which I couldn’t afford at the time) and the Librem 5. Nothing else has come close to being a worthy upgrade over the late-2000s Nokia candybar I currently use. So, the Librem 5 seems like a pretty good deal to me. (Edit: I should note that the PinePhone has since emerged and would have also been worthy of my consideration too, except for the fact that I had already pledged for the Librem 5.)

For me, the Librem 5 heralds the start of the smartphone era. It’s like the original iPhone, but for people who value software freedom. It’s well worth the money, both in its own right and as a means of bringing about change and (hopefully) more of the same in the future.


Ever heard of the Neo Freerunner from OpenMoko? I used one and it was pretty cool. Too bad mine had a fatal flaw: If the battery gets completely drained it cannot be charged anymore. That was a huge oversight on the developer’s part but other than that the phone would have been nice.


Yes, I followed the news of that project. I remember reading about the battery flaw. I never seriously considered getting one, partly because it seemed too rough around the edges and it didn’t seem like there was much hope of improving that. (Also, I didn’t have the money.) Then the N900 came along and I wanted one of those instead.


haha. sory to pull this out of context but it’s cringe worthy how these two fit in the same sentence. :wink:


The L5 in atleast the official final spec webpage does look like the OG Ipone without the round button .


Governments like surveillance capitalism companies like Google and Facebook to collect a lot of user data, so they can tap into that data as shown by Edward Snowden’s revelations, but that happened when people didn’t know about it and weren’t paying attention. I see a lot of hopeful signs of movement in the right direction. Europe passed GDPR and Apple went from being a company collaborating with the NSA to marketing the fact that it won’t share its user’s data and fighting the government in court so it doesn’t have to decrypt user’s data.

One of the principal differences between past Linux phones (Nokia N9, Firefox OS, Ubuntu Touch) and today’s Linux phones (Librem 5, PinePhone and Necunos) is the fact that all of today’s Linux phones have security and privacy as an explicit design goal. Over the last 5 years the majority of people have gone from generally trusting Google and Facebook to generally not trusting them, which is a massive shift in public opinion.

The problem is that there wasn’t a viable alternative in the tech world for people to shift to. Change in the tech world happens differently, because it requires that the alternative tech first be developed and attracting users, before the market and the politics can shift to support that alternative tech. As I see it, people like us have to be the early adopters to pull others into the alternative, but I see a lot of evidence that the zeitgeist is switching in our direction in terms of public opinion about protecting people’s privacy and distrust of surveillance Capitalism.

I also see some movement in public opinion about planned obsolescence and the endless upgrade cycles being promoted by the electronics industry. People used to be genuinely excited about each new iPhone model, but today people are starting to shrug and question whether it really matters any more. The market for used smartphones is growing while the market for new smartphones is now declining.

The phone manufacturers have no interest in providing long-term support for their phones, but Google now wants to provide longer support for Android, because people are less likely to trust entering their personal data in Android and Google Web Services if they don’t think that their phone is safe. People used to assume that their phones were safe and now they are more aware of the dangers.

I say all this to show that people are ready for alternatives and there is growing calls for reform. There are entrenched financial interests behind surveillance Capitalism and planned obsolescence, but those interests are not insurmountable if there is a concerted movement to fight them. At this stage, I think creating the tech alternatives and getting more people to use them is the most important step, which is why Purism, Mastadon, Matrox, etc. are so important.


i do share this giddy optimism up to a point but unfortunately we only have two eyes. a magicians act is structured in such a way that it creates “diversions” to keep the public busy and focused and celebrating the past while the “now” is unfolding under the scene … talking in a general way not about the L5 launch necessarily.


I however do not . If we are to keep an eye out for " News on the hardware " 3 weeks from now . then they arent going to be shipping anytime soon


If Librem 5 screen flickers at relatively low PWM frequency I will train myself to look at it as rear as needed and if Librem 5 will not have out of the box its (blob free) modem support for both EU low frequency LTE bands B20 and B28 it will not make myself happy either. But otherwise I likely decided to support Purism whatever they send me as a hardware peace of package. If Purism offers some modularity like more RAM or much better screen and call it Elite version (instead of Porsche) I might even consider to join upgrade possibility or just buy another (Elite) one.
I was once hoping Purism can make something, in hardware terms, like Sharp Aquos S3 2018 Concept (by Toooajk Ma) with its likewise screen specs (IGZO, 5.8 inches, 1440x2880 px) but now I am still liking Librem 5 because looks alike (or better) and because it is for the market actually ready, as this is what counts and just fine with me (even if not tomorrow). Anyway, my point is that buying cheap critical elements (like backlight) for the phone in the long terms will not lead to excellent product. Further, even though I payed 599,00 USD for the phone that money Purism people couldn’t put away as savings to buy something of better quality by ordering 10000 or even 100000 pcs. I wish they could have possibility to do so but I doubt as everyday living costs needs to be covered (without talking about profit). Furthermore, I don’t know how it works with BOM payments an therefore will log out for now. Of course I could have spend the same money somewhere else but I didn’t and I even don’t have need to say: “Snoople, sorry not sorry.”


This is so true. I have had Nokia 7650, N91, iPhone 3g, 4 and now 6. Each phone I have been excited about and each one was a major upgrade to the last. I happily paid for the premium, as I found them all worth it compared to the competition, and also more durable. Not anymore. I really don’t see any benefit from the newer models, apart from the camera perhaps. Better graphics or 5G don’t matter and I really hate some of the design decisions (no 3,5 mm jack, notch, battery vs. thinness…).

Ok, I’m also older and don’t need the “latest thing” anymore, but I also have more money to spend on a device I use the most daily. Tech has also advanced so much so it fulfills everyday needs with less, so one doesn’t really need the latest to make do.

What I’m probably trying to say is, that I’m happy with the specs and really proud to support this effort to have more competition and choices in mobile phones. If someone has stumbled so far in this forum, that he/she is reading this and thinking is it worth the money, just order it already. It’s not going to be without flaws, but it’s definitely going to be worth it considering the bigger picture. What else would you spend the money on?


the L5 v2 would be the first to catch my wallet after the v1 - if it’s anything like the first it’ll be hard to miss … flying gnus everywhere … :hugs:


I question whether modem choice is only limited to those offered. Rather more pricey options from Sierra as well as from Telit may be useful in both America and Europe with single multiple area band option listed though ranging in $300 range. While very pricey, not having to juggle modem cards and risk loss or damage for the free (unused) modem this might be a consideration for the frequent traveler. If so, appropriate driver needs installation with present modem in place before change-out and r4eboot.


A purism rep checked and advised they are not using PWM on the L5 for led management.


For those concerned about the L5’s 720 resolution, remember that the Nintendo Switch has a 720p screen, and it’s larger than the L5. I don’t think it’ll be as big a deal as it’s made out to be.