Last Updated on January 1, 2024 by Daniel Osakwe
Librem 5 Smartphone
Table of Contents
- Open-source operating system
- Privacy protection
- User-replaceable battery
- Headphone jack
- Lifetime updates
- Weak battery life
The Librem 5 smartphone has arrived. After years of development, the goal is finally within reach: a phone that is both open source and secure, with the best hardware and software available. And, as the first phone from Purism, the Librem 5 is a significant milestone in the company’s history.
Let’s take a look at what this phone has to offer below.
SPEC SHEET OF THE LIBREM 5 SMARTPHONE
- CPU: i.MX8M (Quad Core) max. 1.5GHz
- GPU: Vivante GC7000Lite
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 32 GB eMMC internal storage
- Screen size: 5.7-inch
- Resolution: 720×1440
- Weight: 230g
- Dimensions: 150mm x 75mm x 15.5 mm
- Rear camera: 13 MP w/ LED flash
- Front camera: 8MP
- OS: PureOS
- Battery: 3500mAh, user-replaceable
Librem 5 Smartphone: Design
- Attractive design
- Built to last
- Easy to use
The Librem 5 is a charcoal-gray slab that weighs 230 grams and has a quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of eMMC storage that can be expanded to 2TB through microSD.
The bezel is thin and the 5.7-inch 1440x720px TFT IPS display appears intimidating. A cover that can be removed from the back reveals the 3500mAh battery. If necessary, a replacement cell can be used in place of this one.
The Librem 5’s three kill switches are an essential part of its design. Wi-Fi, mobile internet, the camera, and the microphone are all individually disabled, along with the GPS when all three are as well. A smart card reading slot is located next to the kill switches.
The power button and two volume buttons are located on the other side. Alongside are the nanoSIM and microSD card slots. The USB-C port with power, data, and DisplayPort capabilities is located at the bottom of the phone. A 3.5mm “Courage Jack” for headphones is located on top. Purism “never intends” to lock you to a non-standard connector just so you can attach some earphones.
The Librem 5 is comfortable to hold, although it might be too big for little hands.
Librem 5 Smartphone: Performance
- Average performance
- Poor telephony performance
- Quick boot time
- Great call quality
The Librem 5’s overall performance is debatably average. Although the technology is excellent and the picture is clear, certain fundamental features could use some serious enhancement.
For instance, telephony functions—but the speaker mode is very quiet. The volume buttons are completely useless. However, call quality is acceptable. The phone quickly connects to the nearby Wi-Fi router, indicating that network coverage appears to be satisfactory. However, the evidence for connectivity with other devices was weaker.
The boot time is excellent. The Librem 5 boots swiftly when compared to an iPhone SE, barely beating the Apple handset to the lock screen.
Since the Librem 5 is a Linux phone, there isn’t really a way to benchmark it using well-known programs like Antutu, but it would be unfair to do so at this point since it isn’t quite ready for prime time.
Librem 5 Smartphone: Battery life
- Quick charging time
- Produces lots of heat
- The battery runs down quickly
The battery serves as a strong reminder that the Librem 5 is still in testing. Despite the hardware being less robust than a typical iPhone or Samsung, it loses juice at a rate that is nearly impressive. The charge lasts three to five hours with the current configuration.
Purism had to provide some assistance for the Librem 5 to get going. After a successful initial boot, the phone’s battery quickly depleted. It became apparent after several days of charging that the phone won’t charge while powered on. It also produced a great deal of heat. Although not hot enough to melt anything, a phone should not be so warm.
Librem 5 Smartphone: Security and Features
- Robust software
- Easy to use
- Lifetime update
The review device has very little built-in software. There is a browser, email client, and software installer in addition to the typical phone, messaging, and contacts tools. A text editor, Terminal, document viewer, calculator, settings app, and consumption monitor are also included.
A significant privacy feature provided by the Librem 5’s kill switches is the banning of browser trackers. These generally function fine, but if they are enabled and disabled quickly back to back, the phone has trouble keeping up. The ensuing lock-up can only be resolved by a complete reboot.
The keyboard is possibly one of the main issues with the pre-installed software. The implementation of text entry is horrible, despite the fact that it can be started from any screen thanks to an icon in the lower-right corner. There is no swipe option, it’s tough to tell if you’re pressing the appropriate key, and accuracy is poor.
Convergence support, or the capability to utilize the phone like a PC, was one of the main selling factors of the Librem 5 crowdfunder. But ultimately, there isn’t much to choose from. Convergence was not made possible by Bluetooth connections to the phone or by using a USB-C hub with HDMI.
Purism promises lifetime updates to prolong the life of the phone for the sake of future-proofing and fending off the specter of planned obsolescence. Even while this function stands out on its own, the phone doesn’t offer all the features that were promised. A good illustration of this is the absence of camera software.
The browser, on the other hand, is incredibly sluggish and struggles to render even the most basic web pages in anything near a reasonable amount of time. Meanwhile, it’s risky to install additional applications. The software or utility is installed, but there is no assurance it will function as intended. LibreOffice is one example, which disallowed input from the software keyboard. A screenshot tool installation and use attempts were likewise unsuccessful.
In the meantime, a collection of swipeable cards in the UBPorts design would be perfect for the empty home screen. Despite its failure, Ubuntu Touch was at least functional.
The Librem 5 feels as though it is just on the cusp of being a fully functional phone without the HTML5 apps and with the camera and convergence turned off.
For users and the environment, planned obsolescence is dangerous. More durable phones with solid operating systems are more desirable, and the Librem 5 excels in this regard.
Yes, there is a chance that the phone will get better, just like a fine wine, to use a phrase from Purism’s advertising. But it’s difficult to understand where the Librem 5 fits in the background given the amount of work that needs to be done and the presence of the PinePhone as a rival.