Introducing PinePhone: the smart phone that runs multiple Linux mobile OSes

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For all of the technological advancements of smartphones, we are still yet to see a consumer phone that gives users the ability to boot into the operating system of their choice – similar to how PCs work. The PinePhone is the latest in a short line of efforts to deliver such a phone to us.

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.

PonePhone concept drawing

Prevous 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 – especially Russia, where it has been adopted as the official opearting system.

There are a few others in the works, including Librem 5, and Eelo (or /e/), both of which have phones shipping already.

Usually, Linux OS phones are manufactured with one key selling point – 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 all sides

PinePhone Hardware Killswitches

The phone has 6 hardware killswitches, so the user can completely disable any of the following features:

  1. Modem: On enables 2G/3G/4G communication and GNSS hardware, off disables.
  2. WiFi/BT: On enables Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communication hardware, off disables.
  3. Microphone: On enables audio input from on-board microphones (not 3.5mm jack), off disables.
  4. Rear camera: On enables the rear camera, off disables.
  5. Front camera: On enables the front camera, off disables.
  6. 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″ 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

PinePhone rear camera

Here is a demontration video showing four different Linux OSes – Ubuntu Touch, PostMarketOS, KDE Neon, and LuneOS – running on the PinePhone:

PinePhone Release Date

This Linux phone is expected in the market by March 2020. However, a “braveheart” 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 “braveheart” edition. Wait till March.

For more details, check out the full PinePhone specifications.

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3 comments

  1. There are just two dominant mobile operating systems (Android and iOS) worthy of mention and attention in the smartphone works, presently .

    Clearly, no single phone would be able to boot these two as things stand. IOS is for iThings only.

    Until the extant situation of a DOMINANT duopolistic OS ecosystem ends (not likely to happen even within a decade) , multi&boot on a smartphone isn’t going to happen.

    For outliers like this one, I don’t see them making any significant splash anywhere, so why bother dissipating resources / energy on something not likely to get any traction, or a worthwhile market?

  2. Perhaps when we see a Facebook Operating System we may start talking about the importance of being able to dual boot.

    However, being asthmatic about this, I ain’t holding my breath.

  3. The privacy movement moves forward everyday and is gaining steam.
    This phone would offer a tremendous amount of privacy over your “Android & iOS” devices.

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