The official PinePhone Keyboard has been in development for months, and now it’s almost ready to go.
In the Pine64 July 2021 Update, Lukasz Erecinski notes that the hardware design is just about finalized, and thanks to Megi’s work with a pre-production prototype, the PinePhone Keyboard will ship with “fully open” firmware.
The keyboard could go intro production within the next month or so, and customers should be able to buy one later this year.
Like most smartphones, the PinePhone is basically a pocket-sized computer with a touchscreen display and wireless capabilities including support for WiFi, Bluetooth, and 4G cellular voice and data connections.
But since it’s designed to run GNU/Linux distributions rather than mobile-first software like Android or iOS, the PinePhone is a bit more computer-like than most phones. And the official PinePhone keyboard add-on will basically turn the small, inexpensive Linux phone into a small, inexpensive Linux laptop.
The keyboard attaches to the phone by connecting to the pogo pins hidden by the phone’s back cover. To do that, the keyboard actually replaces the phone’s back cover, which also means that the phone is lodged firmly in place when connected to the keyboard, and that holding the device like a phone with the keyboard add-on in place will be kind of awkward.
But if you’re willing to make that trade-off, you get a QWERTY keyboard designed for touch-typing (think Psion Revo device rather than BlackBerry thumb-keyboard), which should make text input a lot easier whether you’re programming on the go, composing emails, or just web surfing. There’s also an extra battery in the keyboard, which should extend the phone’s run time.