Linux users keeping tabs on the smartphone market may have long been wishing for an honest to goodness non-Android Linux phone. That almost came to be with Ubuntu Touch but Canonical sadly saw no profit to be made there. That mission has then been left to smaller companies that prize principles over profits, manufacturing and selling computing devices that value security and privacy more than anything else. One of those is PINE64 whose PinePhone is just a month away from becoming reality.
PINE64 has definitely come a long way from when it started as a maker of single-board computers (SBCs) similar to the Raspberry Pi. What made it stand out from other RPi-inspired products was its focus on community-driven development and open source development. It then used its expertise in that area to make ARM-based laptops and now a smartphone as well, all running the open source Linux operating system.
The PinePhone is hardly the only Linux phone trying to carve out a niche market. Purism, which already shipped Intel-based laptops, already shipped the first batch of its Librem 5 phone, though that immediately met with some delays. But while the Purism Librem 5 places a heavy emphasis on privacy and security, the PinePhone is geared more towards trying to build and grow an open source mobile ecosystem, no matter the platform or distro of choice.
PINE64 already shipped development models of the PinePhone last month and it is preparing the first batch of “Brave Heart” edition phones for early adopters. While these phones are considered feature-complete as far as hardware and software are concerned, PINE64 warns that it will still perform optimizations after the first batch launches. It’s being called “Brave Heart” for a reason.
Pre-orders for the PinePhone Brave Heart Edition will start on November 15 at 8:00 AM GMT, around 3 AM ET. The phones are expected to start shipping in December through January 2020, that is if no delays happen.