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Purism announces final specs of Librem 5 Linux phone, excepts to start shipments in Q3 of 2019

Image via Purism
Image via Purism
The Librem 5's specifications have been finalized, but the hardware looks outdated. Considering the phone's $700 price tag, it's unlikely that the Librem 5 will garner any significant market share. However, the Librem 5 is focused on user privacy and "free and open" software instead of bleeding-edge specifications. In that regard, the Librem 5 is sure to be an interesting niche device.

Linux phones have always been a niche oddity in the smartphone world, but Purism is creating a bit of a buzz in the mobile community with its upcoming Librem 5. The company finalized the handset’s specifications earlier this week, and some backers may be disappointed in what they see.

On paper, the Librem 5 looks pretty lackluster for a 2019 smartphone. Here are the finalized specifications.

  • Display: 5.7 inch, 1440 x 720 pixel IPS display
  • CPU: 1.5 GHz NXP i.MX8M ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core processor
  • Memory: 3GB RAM
  • Storage: 32GB eMMC storage + microSD card reader
  • Wireless: 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi (dual-band); Bluetooth 4.0
  • Cellular: Gemalto PLS8 3G/4G modem
  • Connectivity: USB 3.0 Gen 1 Type-C; 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Cameras: 13MP rear camera; 8MP front camera
  • Battery: 3500 mAh Li-Ion; user-replaceable
  • Misc: Teseo LIF3 GNSS GPS; Smartcard reader; mono speaker; 9-axis accelerometer; gyroscope; compass; Wireless hardware kill switch; Cellular hardware kill switch; Camera and mic hardware kill switch

While the Librem 5’s internals are on par with a budget handheld like the Moto E5, its price tag ($699 retail) is a bit higher than the OnePlus 7 Pro and more in line with lower-end flagships like the iPhone XR and Samsung Galaxy S10e

However, the hardware isn’t the main draw of the Librem 5. Like its laptops, Purism’s devices are more akin to boutique showcases for the company’s software. The Librem 5 will run a mobile-optimized flavor of PureOS out of the box, and Purism has stated that the phone will be fully compatible with different versions of Linux. These include KDE’s Plasma Mobile, Debian, and any other GNU/Linux compatible operating system.

To that end, the app system is a bit different than that of Android or iOS. Rather than having a dedicated app platform with applications designed specifically for the OS, the Librem 5 relies heavily on HTML 5-compatible applications for most of its features. The handset supports OpenGL/ES 3.1, OpenCL 1.2, and Vulkan for graphics. There are a few native applications, most of which are the usual dialer, contact manager, SMS messaging, and web browser apps found on every phone. 

Purism has said that the Librem 5 is all about privacy, openness, and enabling users to actually own their handset. While you’re not likely to see the Librem 5 in the pockets of everyone riding the tram to work or walking down the street, the free and open-source community is large enough (and loud enough) for the phone to gain some traction. 

After all, Purism’s laptops (like the Librem 13 we reviewed last year) are fairly overpriced, but Purism’s customers are more than happy to pay the extra cost for the security built into the Librem line of devices. The Librem 5 is likely to continue Purism’s trend of outdated hardware running secure, private, and customer-owned software. 


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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 07 > Purism announces final specs of Librem 5 Linux phone, excepts to start shipments in Q3 of 2019
Sam Medley, 2019-07-30 (Update: 2019-07-30)