Over the past year Pine64 has shipped tens of thousands of smartphones loaded with GNU/Linux distributions as part of its PinePhone Community Edition program. Each new batch of phones shipped with a different operating system pre-installed, with $10 from the sale of each phone going to the developers of that operating system.

Now after shipping five different PinePhone Community Edition models, Pine64 has announced it’s ending the program, hinting that the next version of the phone to ship will come with a “default PinePhone operating system,” although users will continue to be able to try out any different OS by overwriting the eMMC storage or running an alternate operating system from a microSD card.

The PinePhone was designed to be an affordable smartphone capable of running open source software as a way to spur development of Linux software for smartphones and other mobile devices. And so far the project appears to have been wildly successful, with nearly twenty different operating systems capable of running on the phone so far.

The Community Edition models were always supposed to be limited edition devices, and since the program first launched, Pine64 has shipped five different versions:

I received my postmarketOS Community Edition phone in October and have used it to try out a variety of different mobile Linux operating systems, user interfaces, and apps in the past few months and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next from Pine64. The company plans to outline its next steps for the PinePhone in the next monthly update, which will probably be available in around two weeks.

But we already know that Pine64 plans to release several new accessories for new and existing PinePhone customers including:

Meanwhile, third-party developers will continue making operating systems including Ubuntu Touch, postmarketOS, Manjaro, and Mobian more stable and more useful until one day you may be able to replace your Android or iOS device with a Linux phone… something I don’t think most folks should probably count on doing in early 2021.

If you haven’t managed to get your hands on a PinePhone yet, there are still a small number of Mobian Community Edition models available from the Pine64 Store for $150.

Here’s a run-down of the phone’s specs:

PinePhonePinePhone Convergence Package
Display5.95 inch
1440 x 720 pixel
IPS LCD
5.95 inch
1440 x 720 pixel
IPS LCD
ProcessorAllwinner A64
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 Cores @ 1.2 GHz
Mali-400 MP2 graphics
Allwinner A64
4 x ARM Cortex-A53
Mali-400 MP2 graphics
RAM2GB LPDDR33GB LPDDR3
Storage16GB eMMC
microSD (up to 2TB)
32GB eMMC
microSD (up to 2TB)
WirelessWiFi 4
Bluetooth 4.0
GPS
4G LTE (Quectel E-25G)
WiFi 4
Bluetooth 4.0
GPS
4G LTE (Quectel E-25G)
PortsUSB-C
3.5mm audio
USB-C
3.5mm audio
Cameras5MP rear
2MP front
5MP rear
2MP front
Battery3,000 mAh (removable)3,000 mAh (removable)
Charging5V/3A5V/3A
Sensors Accelerator
Gyroscope
Proximity
Compass
Ambient Light
Barometer
Accelerator
Gyroscope
Proximity
Compass
Ambient Light
Barometer
ButtonsPower
Volume
Power
Volume
Hardware kill switchesModem
WiFi/Bluetooth
Microphone
Rear camera
Front camera
Headphone
Modem
WiFi/Bluetooth
Microphone
Rear camera
Front camera
Headphone
Dimensions160.5 x 76.6 x 9.2mm160.5 x 76.6 x 9.2mm
Weight180 – 200 grams180 – 200 grams
Included accessoriesN/AUSB-C dock
Price$149$199

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7 Comments

  1. Hi Brad,

    Im reading your articles with great interests since there’s nothing like it in French.

    Do you know if the end of the community edition means the end of the 3gb ram and USB c dock version ?

    Also, how usable is manjaro when its in desktop mode ? Compared to pinebook pro for example.

    Thanks

    1. There hasn’t been any announcement about future hardware yet, but we should know more in a few weeks time.

      As for desktop usability, I do not have a PineBook Pro, so I cannot tell you from my own experience, but I do know that the laptop has a much more powerful processor than the phone and it runs a version of Manjaro that’s designed for laptops and desktops rather than for phones. But Manjaro ARM for the PinePhone is one of the most versatile operating systems I’ve used on the phone so far, and development seems to be happening at a rapid pace, so I expect it to continue getting better over time.

      1. Hi,

        thanks for your answer.
        I thought that Manjaro on the Pinephone was the same Manjaro ARM on the pinebook or others arm laptops with a additional interface for touchscreen (phosh or lomiri).

        But I’m wrong 🙂

        I don’t really understand why by the way if you have an answer to that too (and time to explain lol) !

    2. I think the comments on the announcement clarify that they’ll continue making pinephones, they’re just deciding on which OS to install by default to all future pinephones.

      I’ve got a Manjaro convergence edition running Manjaro + phosh. In desktop mode it’s surprisingly usable but it is definitely slower than a pinebook pro and you feel that. Web pages take longer to render, youtube videos don’t play back smoothly in Chromium even at 360p. I can complete a day’s work on it (light programming, a lot of web browsing) but it cannot handle video calls. The biggest problem currently is the entire UI locking up every now and then, but audio keeps playing and SSH still responds so there must be a way to recover.

  2. The Pinebook Pro is quite usable. I’m still using the original OS from end of 2019 but I have kept it updated, and with various browser tweaks it has even been decent for YouTube up to 1080p30. The only 2 negatives I can point to are the brittle screen bezel and buzzy speakers.

  3. The pinephone is an interesting device. I would really like to have one, but I don’t have room in my time or money budget for a device that doesn’t work well for something. I currently have a laptop (used for work, gets heavy web browsing and video calling use as well as use as a terminal) and a phone (used for personal organization, light web browsing, and phone/GPS), a kindle (used for reading, obviously!), and a tablet (also used for reading, occasional gaming).

    I like the idea of a linux-based phone, but it really needs to be usable as a phone/GPS for me. I also depend on apps (such as uber, google maps) that may not work as well–or at all–via a browser. I also like the idea of a convergence device that can work as a phone and a “desktop/laptop”, but I think the device needs better specs for that, for which I’d gladly pay more. I think once this device matures a bit (and offers several price points for specs, stability, support/alternatives for common apps) it will be a good option for me.

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