Despite all the technological innovations in the smartphone industry, we are still yet to see a consumer phone that offers users the ability to boot into the operating system of their choice â€“ similar to how PCs work. The PinePhone is the latest in a drive of efforts to deliver such a phone to the commercial class.
The PinePhone, which is still development, is capable of running mainline Linux and booting up into any one of the available multiple Linux mobile operating systems.
Earlier efforts to produce consumer smartphones running Linux has failed. Phones running Ubuntu OS Mobile were available in the market for a few years and then died off, though Ubuntu Touch lives on as its successor. Sailfish OS phones are still available in select regions of the world â€“ especially Russia, where it has been adopted as the official operating system.
Usually, Linux OS phones are manufactured with one key selling point â€“ liberty from spying and snooping by big corporation and by government. A second, less mainstream proposition is the ability to run your preferred Linux OS.
Linux never gained mainstream acceptance on PC and continues that struggle on mobile. PinePhone is hoping to change that.
PinePhone Hardware Killswitches
The phone has 6 hardware killswitches, so the user can completely disable any of the following features:
- Modem: On enables 2G/3G/4G communication and GNSS hardware, off disables.
- WLAN/Bluetooth: On enables Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communication hardware, off disables.
- Microphone: On enables audio input from on-board microphones (not 3.5mm jack), off disables.
- Rear camera: On enables the rear camera, off disables.
- Front camera: On enables the front camera, off disables.
- Headphone: On enables audio input and output via the 3.5mm audio jack, off switches the jack to hardware UART mode.
PinePhone Quick Specs
- Display: 5.95-inch 18:9 apect ratio, IPS LCD display.
- Processor: Allwinner A64
- GPU: ARM Mali 400 MP2
- RAM: 2GB
- Internal Storage: 16GB
- Expandable Storage: micro-SD card up to 1TB
- Battery: 3000mAh battery with 15W quick charging
Here is a demonstration video showing four different Linux OSes â€“ Ubuntu Touch, PostMarketOS, KDE Neon, and LuneOS â€“ that runs on the PinePhone:
PinePhone Launch Date
This Linux phone is expected in the market by March 2020. However, a â€œBraveheartâ€ edition for geeks and techies who want to tweak and tinker with hardware, is currently available for purchase from the PINE64 store. There is no OS preinstalled on this edition though. If you are looking for a usable smartphone. do not touch the â€œBraveheartâ€ edition. Wait till March.
You can check out thefull PinePhone specifications here.