Techrepublic reviewer could not get the Librem 5 to make calls?

This review came up recently, March 16:

The article doesn’t say exactly which version of the phone is used, but I get the impression that they received it from Purism recently. It says some things that we know, like that it gets hot and that the battery life is not so good. But it also says “I was unable to get the Librem 5 to make calls.” Why, I thought phone calls was working by now?


I can understand why normal folks would be concerned about this, but I guess I am not bothered by it at all. I mean I can’t remember the last time I actually used my phone to make a phone call.

I’ve also wondered if there is a lot of behind the scenes undercutting and sabotage going on. I mean the Librem 5 represents a loss of control for cell providers. I would not be surprised if they were trying to undermine it.

Of course an easier way to undermine it is to toss some money to reviewers and have them bad mouth it.

I’m not accusing the TechRepublic author of doing that. I’m not saying that I know for a fact that there is sabotage underway here.

I’m merely musing about how I wouldn’t be surprised if all of that was the case.

Also, let me just be clear: Criticism is essential to all that Purism is trying to do. If there is a problem, sugarcoating it, or burying it wont help.


I guess I agree, the review was balanced, at least from the reviewers perspective. However, one has to wonder when he tested and based on what information etc. It would be nice of them to amend it.

I get the impression that the review could look better if they would have done some more research.
Sure, that stuff should work out-of-the-box. But it seems it does not reflect the current state very well.


The counterpoint to the first question is: how do you tell? What GUI or shell command will tell the user whether it’s A or B or C (and in the future D or E).

My guess would be that there’s no clean and simple way of knowing - because the functionality of the hardware is essentially the same - and hard to distinguish in software. You might have to open up the phone - or be really familiar with the iteration of the design.

In other words, the reviewer wouldn’t know - and hence didn’t say.

The other obvious question would be: what country was the reviewer in and what network provider was he using?

Maybe making phone calls does work but there’s some quirk with the particular choice of network provider in that particular location.


I can’t imagine the reviewer not knowing ahead of time which version of the phone they were going to review. I don’t believe any hardware arrives to any reviewer without a spec sheet or an email or something.


The iteration/model of the phone could be made clearer.


Interesting review. Thanks for the link.

At FOSDEM I had the Librem5 of Adrien in hands and to be honest I didn’t found it “less-then responsive”. I mean a Galaxy S10 is for sure more responsive but normal middle class smartphones, hm.

Phosh is really good. That’s also underlined by the fact that lot of people use it on PinePhone “instead” of Plasma Mobile. According to screenshots on Twitter, Reddit etc.


Myself and other community members have been using Phosh and related applications on Fedora on PinePhone and it works very well!

Just to provide a counter point. I was able to make calls on my Chestnut L5 previously. I can’t try again because I allowed my prepaid plan to expire and I am still looking for other plan options. For me in the US, I managed to set up the APN without too much difficulty and start making calls. I don’t see anything in the article about setting up the APN but I would assume a tech journalist would know about APNs so perhaps there was an issue with his specific SIM/Network.

I honestly feel like this article is disingenuous as best and dishonest at worst. Notice that privacy was not mentioned in the article. The privacy restrictions placed on the Librem 5 by Purism’s mission makes the Librem 5 much more complicated than a simple “Linux Phone”. Building a Linux phone with widely available hardware that uses binary blobs to a much greater extent would have made development of the Librem 5 much simpler. I think that the author is doing a disservice to his readers by publishing this without providing the context for understanding what has been accomplished by Purism.

I would like to know what the issue is behind the calls and I hope that if it turns out that it was user error or a SIM/Network problem the article is updated to reflect it. Although I suppose the damage will already be done by that point.


Well, the review doesn’t give any detail on what the actual experienced problem even was, so I can’t even guess what’s going on there. It could be user/network error, it could be old modem card sent by mistake, it could be a bug present in reviewed version of software but already fixed for a while, but it could also be a new bug that’s not known to us yet.

All I know is that calling works fine for me and everyone I’ve seen so far on our community channels. If it doesn’t work for you, please holler, we’ll take a look at what’s going on :wink:

I wonder when has this review been conducted? From the thermal and battery life side it doesn’t sound very up-to-date.

I also wonder whether the reviewer confused “WiFi speed” with “browser speed”, since, well, let’s say that there’s still a lot of stuff left to optimize in Epiphany :wink:

I’d also like to know what exact issues with touchscreen responsiveness did they see - there are some software bugs that I know of that might make it seem that touchscreen isn’t responsive even though it’s not the touchscreen at fault there, so I’d guess that they may be hitting one of them.


The review doesn’t go into enough detail. To measure raw WiFi speed, you really need a local download speed tester. At the very least, what was the WiFi signal strength and what 802.11xxx flavors were available from the WAP and which particular one was selected for use in this case? (My assumption is that the reviewer has a gigabit internet connection - lucky him - and so that wouldn’t be the bottleneck.)

Since it talks about “page loading speeds” I would assume it is a comment about overall user experience. That is fair enough and it isn’t the job of the reviewer to debug the phone.

It would be helpful to know which “everyday sites” were tested. I know that on my current spiPhone there are some absurdly over-engineered web sites that aren’t a good experience and probably won’t be any better on a Librem 5 v1 for me.


Perhaps someone from Purism could reach out to this Techrepublic writer and help him out, to make phone calls work for him? Who knows, maybe he could even be convinced to amend the article with some explanation about that?

I mean, info from community channels is fine, but I think many people will put more trust in reviews like this. There are not that many reviews, and if one of them dated March 16 says calls are not working, then many readers will believe that is the current status. So I think it might help if he were to add a little note saying “phone calls worked after fixing this-and-that” in the end.