the Purism Librem 5 was one of the most powerful smartphones to run mainline Linux software when the first units shipped in limited quantities a few years ago. But it’s also one of the most expensive – and all the more so after a price hike that went into effect this month.
When Purism launched a crowdfunding campaign for the Librem 5 in 2017, backers were able to pre-order the phone for $ 599. The price has risen several times since then, and now the Librem 5 costs twice as much.
As announced a few months ago, Purism raised the price of the Librem 5 to $ 1,199 in early November.
Additionally, there is a long wait for the phone – customers who place an order today will have to wait about a year to actually receive the phone due to supply chain issues, hence 5 years ago they pre-ordered a Librem who are still waiting for their phones Clearly, global supply chain scarcity is only part of the problem. It has also taken Purism a long time to ramp up production of this unusual phone, and the company isn’t really there yet.
In the time since Purism first announced the Librem 5, the Linux smartphone landscape has changed quite a bit. You can get a PinePhone these days for just $ 150, and a more powerful PinePhone Pro is coming soon for $ 399 with a more powerful processor than the one used in the Librem 5.
Meanwhile, Linux mobile developers have made strides in porting mainline Linux to run on some phones that originally shipped with Android, including models with Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processors like the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T.
All of this means that the $ 1,199 value proposition of a Linux-friendly smartphone that won’t ship for a year is questionable, to say the least, in late 2021.
It’s also worth noting that Linux mobile distributions like PureOS, postmarketOS, Ubuntu Touch, and ManjaroARM are still very much in the works and are best for Linux enthusiasts and early adopters, rather than people looking for a full-fledged Android and iOS replacement Looking for.
However, it’s unclear whether things would have gone as far as the mobile Linux space with free and open source software and firmware in the past few years without Purism’s work with the Librem 5, but Purism also has the Phosh user interface “Phone Shell” designed for Linux phones that is now widely used by other Linux mobile distributions (although there are other options such as Plasma Mobile, Lomiri, and Sxmo).
Anyway, I think my point is that spending $ 1,199 on a Librem 5 isn’t quite the same as spending that type of money on an iPhone or Android device. Not only do you pay for the hardware, but you also help fund the development of a free, open source alternative to these platforms. You just have to pay a lot now more to aid in these efforts as if you bought a Librem 5 a few months or years ago.
1440 x 720 pixels
|processor||NXP i.MX8M Quad
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores @ 1.5 GHz
Vivante GC7000Lite GPU
|storage||32 GB eMMC
|Wireless||WiFi 4 (dual band)
GPS (Teseo LIV3F GNSS)
4G LTE (Broadmobi BM818 or Gemalto PLS8)
|battery||4,500 mAh (removable)|
Compass / magnetometer
|Hardware kill switches||WLAN / Bluetooth
Cameras / microphone
(Turn off all three to also disable IMU + compass, GNSS, ambient light and proximity sensors)
|Dimensions||153 x 75 x 15.5 mm|
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