The Librem 5 is the first smartphone from Linux laptop maker Purism. First announced more than two years ago, the Librem 5 still isn’t quite ready for prime time. But folks willing to pay $699 for pre-production hardware have started to receive devices from the Librem 5 Birch batch that began shipping last week.
That means the first real-world unboxing videos, user impressions, and hands-on reviews from people who don’t work for Purism are here.
The good news? The Librem 5 is a real thing that mostly works the way it’s supposed to. The bad news? The software is quite clearly still a work in progress.
For example, a post at azdle.net notes that phone call audio isn’t routed through the speaker yet and there’s no support for CPU scaling, which basically means the phone is either running at full power or turned off, which doesn’t bode well for battery life. Charging is slow; the camera doesn’t work at all; and while you can easily install and run any Linux app available from the PureOS store, only a handful are optimized for small touchscreen displays.
Right now you probably aren’t going to want to use the Librem 5 as your primary phone. But most of these issues are software-related, so it’s possible that solutions could be on the way.
Another thing is to keep in mind that the phone is pretty thick — about 15.6mm. That makes it almost twice as thick as recent iPhones or Google Pixel phones, for example.
Gallery of photos from /u/kop316
But we’re talking about a phone that was designed from the ground up to run free and open source, GNU/Linux-based software and an emphasis on privacy with hardware kill switches for wireless features, the camera, and microphones.
It’s experienced multiple delays, and after Purism finally announced that the first batch of pre-production units were shipping in September, it turned out they were only shipping to Purism employees. So the fact that actual customers are finally getting their hands on the device is kind of a big deal right now.
Whether it’s a product worth spending $699 on may be another question. But Purism is promising to deliver software updates to address most of the existing issues, and hardware revisions that will lead to improvements in future batches of the phone. The smart move for anyone who doesn’t want to be a beta tester is to wait until the “Evergreen” batch is available for purchase — and that’s not expected to ship until the second half of 2020.
Gallery of photos from adzle
Unboxing video from Bo1
You can read more accounts from Librem 5 early adopters at the Purism forum, a reddit post by /u/kop316, and adzle.net.