The Librem 5 is.. not that bad?

Recently Purism assounted they are dropping the price of their Librem 5 from USD $999 to $699, slightly higher the original price the Librem 5 launched at. I preordered one 5 years ago when it was new and never received mine. So I wrote an email asking for my device. And received the device in about 2 weeks. I'm quite surprised given Purism's lacklaster performance ever after the lunch. And here are my thoughts on the device.

Purism has gained quite a bad reputation with all their delays and broken promises. My hopes wasn't up high when I wrote the email. And I used to own a PinePhone. Which then broke and I never end up fixing. The software stack was qutie young at the time and the A64 processor + 2G of RAM is far from powerful enough to do anything useful. I'm genuinely impressed how well the Librem 5 is. Be it the better CPU and a more matured stack. Never owned an PinePhone Pro though, not sure about how well that works.

Quick tech specs of the Librem5:

  • CPU: NXP i.MX 8 (ARM Cortex-A53 @ 1.5GHz x4)
  • GPU: Vivante GC7000Lite
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB eMMC
  • Wifi: SparkLAN WNFB-266AXI (802.11ax capable)

Pardon the photo quality, It's taken from my crappy daily driver. The Librem 5 is built like a BRICK! Feels like it's the ThinkPad of phones.

The side of the Librem 5
Image: The side of the Librem 5

The device comes with disk encryption by default! Well, the default password is not strong so I doubt it prevents any sort of physical attack. But a good tough.

The first boot screen of the Librem 5, asking for the disk encryption password.
Image: The first boot screen of the Librem 5, asking for the disk encryption password.

With the experience of PinePhone, I expected web browsing on it would also be an nightmare - actually not! Though not perfect, I can read Phoronix no problem.

Video: Web browsing (Phoronix) on the Librem 5

And there is actually gesture control! That wasn't a thing when I was messing around with the PinePhone.

Video: Gesture control on the Librem 5

Battery life wise it't not good. About what you get from a PinePhone to slightly worse. But thermals under load is much better. With some tweaks (setting to an mobile user agent), FireFox can browse most site and some heaviers ones like Google News no problem. One limitation being no support of charging while powered off (same as the PinePhone). But power draw when the display is off is low enoguh that charging is still fast enough.

Camera is horrible. But I don't care about that so whatever.

All in all. The Librem 5 is not as bad as I thought. Is the 699 price worth it? Nah... but it's already sunken cost for me. I'm happy with what I get. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else though. It however, does what it supposes to do. I can see myself using it as a portable server or something I use for stuff I need absolute privacy.

Author's profile. Photo taken in VRChat by my friend Tast+
Martin Chang
Systems software, HPC, GPGPU and AI. I mostly write stupid C++ code. Sometimes does AI research. Chronic VRChat addict

I run TLGS, a major search engine on Gemini. Used by Buran by default.

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