Librem 5 is a smartphone from San Francisco-based Purism which runs their self-developed PureOS operating system. It uses free software where possible. Development was crowd-funded, crowd-funding started in 2017. The final hardware specifications are those of a low-end $100 smartphone from that year. The price-tag at it's launch in 2019 is $700.
|Purism Librem 5||Xiaomi Redmi Note 8|
|Mobile Network||Option 1: Gemalto PLS8;
Option 2: Broadmobi BM818; nanoSIM tray
|GSM / HSPA / LTE|
|Launch||December 2019||September 2019|
|CPU||NXP® i.MX 8M Quad core Cortex A53,
64bit ARM @max 1.5GHz (auxiliary Cortex M4)
|Octa-core (4x2.0 GHz Kryo 260 Gold & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 260 Silver)|
|GPU||Vivante GC7000Lite||Adreno 610|
|RAM and Storage||32 GB eMMC / 3GB RAM||Variants ranging from 32GB storage and 3GB RAM|
to 128GB storage 6GB RAM
|External Storage||microSD (2TB max)||microSD, up to 256 GB (dedicated slot)|
|Screen||5.7″ IPS TFT, 720×1440||6.3" IPS LCD, 1080 x 2340|
|Bluetooth||4||4.2, A2DP, LE|
|WLAN||802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4GHz/5GHz||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz/5GHz|
|GPS||TESEO LIV3 GNSS||A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS|
|DAC||Wolfson Media WM8962||Yes|
|Battery||User-replaceable 3500 mAh||Non-removable Li-Po 4000 mAh|
|USB||3.0, Type C, PowerDelivery (Dual-Role Port), video out (DisplayPort)||2.0, Type C, OTG|
|Kill Switches||3: WiFi, Cellular, Microphone/Cameras||No|
|Sensors||LSM9DS1 (gyro, accel, magnetometer)||Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass|
|Back Camera||1x 13 MP with flash LED||Quad Camera System:|
48 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/2", 0.8µm, PDAF
|Front Camera||8 MP||13 MP, f/2.0, 1.12µm|
|Smartcard reader||2FF format smart cards||No|
|$170 for 3 GB / 32 GB model|
$180 for 4GB / 64GB model
Purism launched a crowd-funding campaign for the Librem 5 in 2017. Their promise then was that it would be a purely free software phone with "focus on security by design and privacy protection by default". They managed to raise a lot of money with their promises.
Purism announced a launch date of April 2019 on September 4th, 2018. The final specifications and a price of a hefty $649 was announced in July 2019. This price was later adjusted up to $699.
The phone is sold as "pre-order" with batches going out every few months. The state of the "pre-order" queue as of December 2019 is that a "pre-ordered" phone will be shipped "within 6 months".
Purism's PureOS is a derivative of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. The mobile versions of both GNOME and KDE Plasma are available. Purism story is that it is possible to connect the phone regular computer devices like a monitor, mouse and keyboard and use it as a regular desktop. A brief glance at the hardware specifications indicate that this would be a absolutely dismal experience.
The Librem 5 uses a proprietary modem which runs black-box binary blob firmware. It is isolated from the phone's SoC for security.
Verdict, Conclusion and Review
The hardware specifications of this phone is that of a low-end $100 phone from when it was announced in 2017.
It is interesting that they have made a Debian based smartphone operating system. It is also interesting that Purism has made a phone where security and privacy are among the primacy concerns. This being said: The interesting software and the moral championship aspects aside: The hardware you get is absolutely not up to modern standards or yesterdays standards for that matter.
There is absolutely no way we can justify paying $699 for a model which may or may not arrive within 6 months so we can test it. We will not buy this phone and neither should you. We are not going to do any in-depth review of this phone and we don't have to do so to give you a good idea what this phone is like: Just look at the hardware specifications and the price-tag and draw your own conclusions.
The reason we are comparing it against the Redmi Note 8 when we list the Hardware Specifications above is not because the Redmi Note 8 is a great privacy-respecting phone; it's not a privacy-focused device. We are comparing the Librem 5 to it because the Redmi Note 8 is objectively a much better phone which provides a much better user-experience at $200 (for the 4GB/128GB variant). That's a whole $500 less than Purism is demanding for the Librem 5.