Hands-on video of the Librem 5 Linux phone shows improvements, but there is a lot of work left to do
The Librem 5 is coming soon, and while we know the details of the Linux phone’s internals, there are still several unknowns surrounding the handset. However, a hands-on video from The Linux Gamer posted earlier today showed an early build of the Librem 5. There’s a lot going for the Linux phone, but there are several mountains still to be climbed before the device should be considered consumer-ready.
First, the positives: the phone looks well-built, and some internal components can be repaired by end-users (e.g., the battery). The phone is rather thick for a modern smartphone, but the added height is needed to house all the boards needed for the hardware kill switches and to allow for replaceable components. The 1440x720 display, which created some controversy when announced, also looks good in the video. Considering its size and resolution, it likely won’t look nearly as crisp as flagship displays in person, but if the hands-on video is anything to go by, it’s a perfectly usable display.
While the hardware has come a long way, the software needs quite a bit of work. The user interface is the primary sticking point - the Librem 5 seemed to struggle with light tasks such as scrolling and simple navigation. When scrolling through a web page, the phone’s performance would typically plummet to noticeably bad levels, and The Linux Gamer stated that the game pre-installed on the device was “a slideshow.” Additionally, no comments were made about the phone’s camera or Bluetooth because the software was unable to recognize the hardware modules at the time the video was filmed.
The video features a very early build of the Librem 5, and most of the quirks can be fixed with software updates. It does show how far Purism has come in building a Linux phone from the ground up. It also shows how much work Purism has left to do, but considering the company’s excellent track record with creating Linux devices, the Librem 5 is in good hands.