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Linux-driven Librem 5 phone is on pre-order for $699

Aug 1, 2019 — by Eric Brown 1,418 views

Purism has opened $699 pre-orders for its privacy-oriented Librem 5 smartphone, with Q3 shipments. The phone runs the Linux-based PureOS on a quad -A53 i.MX8M with 3GB RAM, 32GB eMMC, a 5.7-inch IPS touchscreen, and a 4G modem.

It has been two years since Purism opened a crowdfunding campaign for its privacy-focused Librem 5 smartphone with plans to launch in January of this year. As with most Linux phone projects, the launch was delayed, but the phone is finally open for general pre-order at $699, with shipments due in the third quarter.

Billed as the world’s first IP-native mobile handset, the unlocked Librem 5 provides end-to-end encrypted decentralized communication, including encrypted calls, texts, and emails. The Librem 5 provides open source code and support for VPN services. The design isolates the CPU from the baseband for greater security, and there are hardware kill switches for the camera, microphone, WiFi/Bluetooth radio, and baseband.

Librem 5 and final specs
(click images to enlarge)

The Librem 5’s processor has changed from the quad-core Cortex-A9 NXP i.MX6 to the quad -A53, 1.5GHz NXP i.MX8M, which has appeared on a variety of embedded Linux products including Ibase’s new 3.5-inch IBR210 SBC. The screen has grown since the original announcement. According to the final specs posted earlier this week, the Librem 5 has a 5.7-inch IPS touchscreen with a rather modest 1440 x 720 resolution.


Other highlights from the spec list shown above include 3GB RAM, 32GB eMMC, and a microSD slot. There’s a built-in, dual-band wireless module with 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0.

The Librem 5 offers a choice of two cellular modems: a Gemalto PLS8 3G/4G modem with a single SIM slot on a replaceable M.2 card and a Chinese-made BroadMobi BM818 with GSM, SCDMA, and LTE support. You also get a Teseo-LIV3F GNSS module for location.

The Librem 5 is equipped with 13- and 8-megapixel rear and front cameras, respectively. Audio features include a 3.5mm stereo-out/mic-in combo jack driven by a Wolfson Media WM8962 DAC, as well as a loudspeaker and a combo earpiece speaker and digital mic.

The phone provides a user-replaceable 3500mAh battery, as well as an accelerometer, haptics, an ambient light and proximity sensor, and a Smartcard reader. You also get a USB 3.0 Type-C port with dual-role power delivery and video out. We saw no mention of video resolution, but the i.MX8M Quad, which also includes a Cortex-M4 MCU, is capable of 4K video.

Optional 30-inch Librem 5 desktop bundle with display, keyboard, and mouse
(click image to enlarge)

The Librem 5 is available in two desktop bundles with 24-inch ($1,399) and 30-inch ($1,699) displays. The bundles include a keyboard and mouse. The photo also shows a pair of headphones.

PureOS keeps the convergence dream alive

Like Purism’s Librem line of secure, open source, Intel Skylake based laptops, the Librem 5 phone runs the homegrown security-minded PureOS Linux distribution based on Debian. In March, Purism announced that PureOS will be a convergent platform across mobile and laptop form factors, a la Canonical’s failed Ubuntu Touch experiment. The latest version of PureOS “has laid the foundation for all future applications to run on both the Librem 5 phone and Librem laptops, from the same PureOS release,” said the company.

In April, Purism announced a related Librem One “ethical services bundle” via a $7.99 per month subscription service. Librem One offers privacy focused, encrypted chat, email, VPN, and social networking to Android and iOS phones.

In today’s launch announcement, Purism revealed a future update to Librem One called Librem Dial. The service provides a non-carrier-provided phone number that can be used with any communications connection. If there’s no cellullar connection, with Librem Dial you would be able to make or receive calls to your primary phone number via WiFi. A Librem 5 user who subscribed to Librem One, could flip the baseband kill switch and still use Librem Dial to call or text from their primary phone number via WiFi.

Librem Key 2.0

On June 27, Purism announced version 2.0 of its Librem Key USB security key dongle, Billed as “the first and only OpenPGP smart card closely integrated with the Heads-firmware offering a tamper-evident boot process.”

Librem Key is manufactured in the same Carlsbad, California headquarters building where the Librem 5 dev kits are constructed. Version 2.0 stores up to 4096-bit RSA keys and up to 512-bit ECC keys and securely generates keys directly on the device.

Further information

The Librem 5 phone is available for pre-order at $699, with shipments due in 3Q 2019. More information may be found in Purism’s latest Librem 5 specs release and launch announcements, as well as the pre-order page.


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2 responses to “Linux-driven Librem 5 phone is on pre-order for $699”

  1. Jane says:

    Will it let users log into WhatsApp, Google Maps and Uber?

  2. Saxa says:

    Hi , I like the initiative, and would probably support them, but I think the price is way too high for such specs. I think Chinese phones today come already with 6GB of ramand they do run so smoothly that it is impressive.

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