The Librem 5 is a new smartphone from Purism that focuses on privacy and security, and has already reached its crowdfunding goal of $1.5 million. This means that the firm will now charge the credit cards of its backers with the amount that they committed as part of the All or Nothing Campaign. The company expects to start shipping the handset to its backers by January 2019, and according to the updates posted by the manufacturer on its website, it seems that the firm is currently conducting the initial testing and web browsing tests using prototype boards.
The Librem 5 runs on PureOS, an operating system that runs on the Linux kernel and uses GNU tools, and the manufacturer has stated that the software is designed to provide security through isolation. Some of the applications currently available for the PureOS includes communication apps like the phone dialer, email, messaging, voice, camera, and browser, but the manufacturer expects that through collaboration with developers, more free applications will be released soon. HTML5 apps like Twitter, Instagram, and Google Maps can run through the browser and the operating system is designed to limit the access of these apps only to the areas that the user allows. Purism has also partnered with Matrix in order to provide end-to-end encrypted communication through the dialer and the messaging apps.
In an effort to further boost security and privacy, the handset’s CPU is isolated from the baseband modem and other components. This isolation allows the manufacturer to incorporate hardware kill switches for the camera, cellular modem, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and microphone. However, this design also requires the manufacturer to use the i.MX 8 CPU from NXP instead of other commercially available chipsets commonly used for Android smartphones since these SoCs commonly incorporate the modem with the CPU and the GPU. Another feature of the smartphone is that it can be used like a full desktop computer through a compatible keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Other hardware components of the device include a 5-inch display, Vivante GPU, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal flash storage, front and rear cameras, microSD card slot, and 3.5mm headphone jack, although these specifications are still subject to change. Interested consumers still have 13 days to back the project with the opening price for the Librem 5 smartphone coming in at $599.