This week Purism announced it plans to start shipping its Librem 5 smartphone to those who pre-ordered starting April, 2019. This is a smartphone that has been in development for some time and it had initially been expected to start shipping in January, 2019. Although that date had evidently now been pushed back by a few months.
The Librem 5 is an interesting phone for number of reasons, one of which is how the company is looking to displace the Google and Apple duopoly by offering an option that runs on something a little different - PureOS. While that in itself might appeal to some, the company is further counting on advanced security and privacy features to entice consumers over to the new open source operating system. For example, one of the big security-focused features is the addition of ‘hardware kill switches’ for many of the phone’s major (and potentially most intrusive) elements, such as the camera, the microphone, and WiFi/Bluetooth/cellular connections. As for the reason behind the delay, Purism notes that it has recently found two bugs that affect the NXP-manufactured CPU’s power management and consumption. To the point where it is capable of causing “a significant negative impact” on battery life. Along with the update announcement, Purism has provided a fuller posting which explains the issue in more detail stating that in its present form, the bug is capable of draining a full battery “within an hour.” Purism also says that it’s working closely with NXP to fix the issue, although the knock-on effect of the bug, combined with calendar events (such as the holiday season and Chinese New Year) has led to the company opting for an April launch.
The Librem 5 started life as a crowdfunded project which quickly reached its goal resulting in the project moving to a firmer state of development. Fast forward to now and although the phone has been delayed, the company is still accepting pre-orders for those who want to be one of the first to test-run the new smartphone, and to do so will currently cost you around $599. A price the company argues is ultra competitive considering the “unprecedented control and security” it will offer its owners.