librem5 – Your Freedom Focused Open Source Linux Smartphone

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ou must be familiar with the two most popular OS on mobile devices, the iOS and Android. Of course, everyone is, but what if I told you that there is another? That there is a smartphone in the market that doesn’t work on these two operating systems. You must be thinking Windows is back, but that’s not it. Purism has recently a brand new smartphone called the Librem 5. A fascinating thing about Librem is that it operates on PureOS. PureOS is a Debian-based GNU/Linux distribution and is essentially free software. For those of you who don’t know what free software is, keep reading, we’ll be discussing that shortly. After the success of their Librem laptops, Purism has launched Librem 5 smartphone after it was announced over 2 years ago.

OVERVIEW

Librem 5 is a smartphone launched by the company Purism. A newcomer in the smartphone market, Purism is known for making Librem laptops which work on Pure-OS. The Librem 5 also operates along the same lines as the laptops. This phone also uses Pure-OS like Librem laptops, allowing users to lead a life of digital privacy. Pure-OS is free software, meaning users are free to do what they want with their copies. Here, the full control is in the hands of the user and not just the developer. The OS uses a GTK-compliant user interface called Phosh. Apart from this, all the other features are similar to your traditional smartphones. It has a 3500 mAh Li-ion battery, 13 MP rear camera, 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage. We’ll be discussing the detailed specifications in a while. Before launching, the company claimed that Librem would become “the world’s first-ever IP-native mobile handset, using end-to-end encrypted decentralized communication”.

WHY LIBREM-5

Are you worried about your privacy when you use your mobile phone? Do you think companies are amassing your data and influencing your daily lives? If yes, then Librem 5 is the phone for you. Purism has launched this phone intending to protect the private information of their users, through free software, transparency and open governance. The company aims to provide you with a private digital life where you are safe from digital exploitation. You must be wondering this phone is only for developers, but that is not the case. Anyone who wants to protect their data and communicate privately with their close ones can benefit from this phone. From parents to businesses and developers, everyone has something to gain from Librem 5. The current operating systems in the market, Android and iOS, have been heavily criticized for gathering private information of their users and possible infringements of the right to privacy. The Librem 5 will be the first-ever Matrix-powered smartphone, using end-to-end encrypted decentralized communication in its dial-er and messaging app. This phone is for the ones who are looking for a new operating system that is different from what the market is currently offering. Many of us are concerned about the malpractices of big tech companies when it comes to privacy. If privacy, security and digital freedom are your primary concern, then Librem 5 is the perfect phone for you.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Here are the detailed specifications for you.

  • CPU – NXP® i.MX 8M Quad-core Cortex A53, 64bit ARM @max 1.5GHz (auxiliary Cortex M4)
  • GPU – Vivante GC7000Lite
  • RAM – 3 GB
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC internal storage
  • External Storage – microSD (2TB max)
  • Screen – 5.7″ IPS TFT 720×1440
  • Baseband – Option 1: Gemalto PLS8; Option 2: Broadmobi BM818; (see details); nanoSIM tray
  • WLAN – 802.11 abgn 2.4GHz/5GHz
  • Bluetooth – Bluetooth 4
  • GPS – TESEO LIV3 multi-constellation GNSS receiver
  • NFC – No
  • DAC – Wolfson Media WM8962
  • 3.5mm jack – Yes (stereo out and mono microphone in)
  • Loudspeaker – Yes
  • FM Radio – No
  • Battery – 3,500mAh, user-replaceable
  • USB – USB C: USB 3.0 data, PowerDelivery (Dual-Role Port), video out (DisplayPort)
  • Buttons – Power, volume ± buttons
  • Kill Switches – 3 – WiFi, Cellular, Microphone/Cameras (all 3 will turn off GPS)
  • Accelerometer – “9-axis” by ST, LSM9DS1 (gyro, accel, magnetometer)
  • Ambient light and proximity sensor – Yes (VCNL4040)
  • Back Camera – 13 Mpx with flash LED
  • Front Camera – 8 Mpx
  • Notification LED – Yes (RGB LED with PWM control per color)
  • Smartcard Reader – 2FF format smart cards (SIM card size)
  • Haptic Motor – Yes

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

Librem 5 is available for Pre-order on Purism’s official website for $749. Specifications were initially announced in June 2019, and pre-order price at that time was $649, which was later increased to $699. If you place your order today, then you will get your phone in the next 6 months. The company releases the phone in the market in batches. These batches are given names like Birch, Dogwood and Fir. And only a few hundred phones are shipped in each batch. The phones of every new batch will be released with certain upgrades and improvements. There is not much awareness about this phone as of now. Purism needs to invest in marketing activities to generate brand awareness. By the end of 2020, the company should be planning for wide-scale distribution of the product.

ABOUT COMPANY

Purism is a computer technology company based in California. The company was founded in 2014 by Todd Weaver with aim to develop products that would focus on freedom, security and privacy. Purism believes in creating an ethical computing environment which you can trust. They consider themselves to be a social purpose company that priorities greater good of the society before maximising profits. Their source code is public, and you have a guarantee that your data is not being shared with any third party. The values of the company are noble, and the market has accepted the products. However, they need to focus on their marketing activities across all channels to generate more awareness about their brand. If they manage to do that, there is a bright future for the company.