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Pine64's new keyboard case turns the PinePhone into a pocketable Linux laptop

The PinePhone keyboard case. (Images via Pine64)
The PinePhone keyboard case. (Images via Pine64)
Pine64 unveiled a new keyboard case for the PinePhone. While the pictures and videos do not show the case working at this point, they show the design of the case. The beveled keys and included 6000 mAh battery make the case thick, but it may present a convenient package for those in search of a small Linux laptop.

The PinePhone is an interesting Linux smartphone that has made waves in the Linux community over the past few months. A new device from Pine64, the company behind the handset, aims to enhance the utility of the plucky phone by turning it into a tiny Linux computer.

Pine64 showed off a new keyboard case for the phone that essentially transforms the PinePhone into a miniature laptop. The PinePhone supports a variety of Linux distros by default and can operate as a pseudo-desktop by hooking it up to a monitor and keyboard (also known as Convergence). The keyboard case is a more convenient option than plugging the phone into a USB-C hub and connecting a standalone keyboard and monitor.

However, considering the PinePhone’s minuscule 5.95-inch display and its low 1440x720 resolution, using the phone as a clamshell computer seems to be more of a novelty than anything. The utility of such a device is limited, especially when there are far better options for mini-laptops (like the GPD Pocket 2 Max).

Still, the PinePhone is cheap, coming in at US$149.99. The keyboard case is expected to sell for $50 when it is released, making the total package $200, far lower than the high price tag of the GPD Pocket 2.

The video Pine64 posted didn’t show the keyboard case working. Rather, it highlighted the design of the case. The keys are beveled and currently lack any markings, but the final layout has been determined.

The case is significantly thicker than the PinePhone, which is already somewhat chunky at 9.2 mm. That extra heft houses a 6000 mAh battery that can be used to recharge the phone’s battery. The case opens to a full 180 degrees so the phone can lay flat.

Pine64 hasn’t offered details on the release schedule for the keyboard case but said it needs some touch-ups which should take about two weeks to finish.

What do you think of the PinePhone keyboard case? Let us know in the comments.

Buy the GPD MicroPC on Amazon.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 04 > Pine64's new keyboard case turns the PinePhone into a pocketable Linux laptop
Sam Medley, 2021-04-25 (Update: 2021-04-25)