The PinePhone from Pine64 runs mainline Linux and costs only $150. In this video, I unbox a PinePhone and talk a bit about what it is and how it compares to other phone options.
Rather than being a stand-alone article, this post is my notes and links for the video.
Here’s the thing: Pine64 PinePhone
Currently Pine64 is taking orders for the “beta” PinePhone. What I’m looking at today is the PostmarketOS community edition (think “alpha”) phone.
They’ve been offering two versions:
- The base phone with 2GB RAM / 16GB storage for $150.
- The convergence version with 3GB RAM / 32GB EMMC and a docking adapter for $200.
This one’s the fancy version.
- Allwinner A64 SoC
- Quad Cortex-A53
- Mali400 MP2 GPU
- 3GB of RAM
- 32GB of EMMC
- 6" 1440x720 display
- 3000 mAh battery
- This is much less powerful than even a mid-range mainstream modern phone SoC.
- But it’s only moderately lower specs than a modern low end phone like the Samsung Galaxy A12. ($200, 4+4 big.LITTLE, 3GB/32GB, etc).
Librem 5 Comparison
The design philosophy for the Librem 5 was very conservative. They were going to get a fully-open-source phone with long-term SoC availability even if it was going to be expensive. The PinePhone design was a risk - they picked a more mainstream mobile SoC and hoped it would work out.
The PinePhone risk paid off. Open source driver support is great. The long term SoC availability thing may matter for the Librem 5 in the future, but
- PinePhone costs $200. You can get 4 for the price of a Librem 5, or 10 for the price of a Librem 5 USA.
- PinePhone is likely to actually ship in finite time.
- PinePhone has more well-supported OS options.
Librem 5 advantages:
- Slightly better specs.
- Design is somewhat more focused on serviceability.
- Librem 5 USA exists.
- SoC may be supported for longer.
- PureOS on Librem 5 has full time developers who are responsible for making sure it works.
- Hardware kill switches are external.
Google-Free Android Comparison
- Android provides a better phone experience than any of the Linux phone OS options.
- Android runs Android apps, and a lot of the world runs on app-store mobile apps now.
- Android permissions makes it possible to run untrusted apps with some level of safety.
Why real Linux OS on PinePhone?
- Getting a good phone that will support a custom Android ROM - even used - for less money than the PinePhone will be hard.
- Lack of Android-style permissions makes it easier to do basic computing tasks, like having one app save a file and another app open it.
- Open source drivers allow for broad tinkering that is harder on phones with blob drivers.
- Open source drivers mean that the phone is unlikely to simply become unsupported by future software releases.
Why PinePhone over most Android options?
- Replaceable battery.
- Hardware kill switches.
This thing’s pretty cool. If I get a chance I’d like to play with it some more and do some comparisons to the other Linux ARM devices I’ve got.
If you have an extra $200 you should get one.