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PinePhone Pro launches with RK3399 and 4GB RAM

Oct 15, 2021 — by Eric Brown 480 views

Pine64 opened $399 developer pre-orders for a Linux driven “PinePhone Pro” with a power-efficient RK3399S variant, 4GB LPDDR4, 128GB flash, 6-inch screen, LTE and WiFi-ac, and 13MP and 5MP cameras.

Pine64 unveiled a Linux smartphone follow-on to its PinePhone that advances from a quad -A53 Allwinner A64 to an RK3399S variant of the hexa-core -A72 and -A53 RK3399 that was developed especially for Pine64 by Rockchip. The PinePhone Pro is available to Pine64 developers for $399, with shipments expected in December. A production version will soon follow and is expected ship in early 2022.



PinePhone Pro, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Pine64 also revealed that the previously announced, Rockchip RK3566 based PineNote E-Ink tablet is now available to developers at the same $399 pre-order price. The tablet has a 10.1-inch, 1404 x 1872 grayscale touchscreen plus 4GB LPDDR4, 128GB eMMC, mics and speakers, USB Type-C, 802.11ac, and an EMR pen.


PineNote

Like the PinePhone, the PinePhone Pro is as about as open source as you can make a semi-competitive smartphone. Like all Pine64 products, open hardware files will be available.

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Linux software support should be much improved over what was available to early PinePhone adopters, despite the transition from the A64 to the RK3399. Like the PinePhone, the PinePhone Pro runs mainline Linux with upstreamed patches and open source drivers. The default distribution remains Manjaro Linux with KDE Plasma Mobile. Pine64 expects that most of the distros that support the PinePhone will add support for the Pro.

Although the PinePhone Pro retains the 6-inch screen dimensions of the PinePhone, users will not be able to upgrade via a new mainboard and components without extensive hardware hacking. However, the Pro is pogo-pin compatible with the original, so PinePhone customers can use the same peripherals, such as the PineDio LoRa, fingerprint reader, wireless charging cases, and soon to ship PinePhone Keyboard.

Like the RK3399, which powers Pine64’s Pinebook Pro laptop, RockPro64 SBC, and slightly reduced feature HardRock64 SBC, the bespoke RK3399S has 2x Cortex-A72 and 4x Cortex-A53 CPU cores, and a Mali-T864 GPU. However, the RK3399S has been binned and voltage-locked to “conform to smartphone chassis thermal and power consumption envelopes,” says Pine64. In addition: “Rockchip’s team was also instrumental in enabling the PinePhone Pro’s suspend state, which allows the smartphone to receive calls and SMS messages while preserving battery.”

The dual -A72 cores are clocked down from 1.8GHz to the 1.5GHz rate used by Cortex-A53 cores to increase battery life and improve reliability. The PinePhone Pro is around 20 percent slower than a Pinebook Pro, says Pine64. That is still considerably faster than the 1.2GHz, quad -A53 Allwinner A64, which has an older Mali-400-MP2 GPU.



PinePhone Pro mainboard prototype (left) and reverse side with other Pro internals
(click images to enlarge)

Performance is further improved by doubling RAM to 4GB LPDDR4 @ 800MHz. You also get 8x times the storage with a standard 128GB eMMC. (These comparisons are for the standard $150 PinePhone model; the $200 beta model with the Convergence Package has 3GB RAM and 32GB flash.) For additional storage, the PinePhone Pro has an optional microSD slot with SDCX compliance for up to 2TB cards.

To reduce battery consumption and improve performance, the PinePhone Pro has the same 1430 x 720 resolution on the 6-inch, in-cell IPS capacitive screen. However, it is now protected by Gorilla Glass 4. The rear- and front-facing cameras have jumped from 5- and 2-megapixels to 13MP (Sony IMX258) and 5MP (OmniVision OV5640). The 13MP sensor also has Gorilla Glass 4 protection.

Pine64 has retained the Quectel EG-25G 4G LTE module, once again with a micro-SIM slot, support for worldwide bands, and a GNSS chips with GPS, GPS-A, GLONASS. The WiFi/Bluetooth module has advanced to an AMPAK AP6255 with 802.11ac and BT 4.1.

Continuing features include an audio I/O jack with UART support and a USB 3.0 Type-C port that supports DisplayPort functionality along with USB host and 5V/3A input. Once again, you get privacy switches for the LTE/GPS, WiFi/BT, mic, and camera functions. The Pro appears to have the same sensor lineup: accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, ambient light, and compass.

The Samsung J7 form-factor 3000mAh appears to be a slight upgrade from the 2800mAh to 3000mAH model. The phone weighs a bit more at 215 grams and is about 2mm thicker.

The Pro is user-repairable, using standard Phillips screws, and there will be replacement parts available in the Pine Store. As before, the back cover and battery are removable.

 
Further information

The PinePhone Pro and PineNote are both available for pre-order to developers at $399, excluding shipping and import tax. Shipments for both products are expected in December. A larger PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition will go on pre-order later this year with shipments due in early 2022. The original PinePhone will continue to be supported and sells at the Pine Store for $150 or $200 with the beta Convergence Package.

More information may be found in Pine64’s announcement and PinePhone Pro product page.
 

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