The Privacy-Focused ‘Librem 5’ Smartphone is Now Shipping

By Bill Toulas / September 27, 2019

Purism, the company that creates and sells privacy-focused laptops and software solutions has finally realized their vision to sell its first smartphone of this kind. Called the “Librem 5”, it is one rage gem in the hands of people who value their security, privacy, software freedom, and digital independence. The product was supported by a crowdfunding campaign that started back in 2017, and after a few delays attributed to hardware manufacturing problems, it is now finally shipping to its first supporters who paid $700 for it.

The price may give the impression that this is a high-end product, but once you read the specs, you quickly find out that it isn’t. It comes with a quad-core Qualcomm 215 chip running at 1.3GHz, which is pretty much at the bottom of the chipmaker’s lineup. It features a 5.7-inch 720p display, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of eMMC storage. Design-wise, it looks bulky and dated, and nowhere near today’s standards really. So, why would anyone pay $700 for a phone that looks dated, is weak, and comes with an average 13MP rear and 8MP front cameras?

The answer is “privacy”, without limitations, deviations, discounts, and asterisks. To get this product to enter mass production, you need quite a lot of money, and that is why it costs so much. It’s too niche and too limited to be asking for anything less, but with the first step made now, it could gradually get cheaper and cheaper in the future. That is if the first model succeeds, and this can only come by proving itself robust enough both in terms of security and in build quality.

To explain how Librem 5 is different from the other products in the market, it runs on “PureOS”, a Linux distribution that offers a “mobile User Interface”, and which has nothing to do with Android or any of its proprietary components. The system won’t track you, won’t collect any data, and won’t allow any breach of your privacy. It comes with layered security protection enabled by default, IP-native communication, separated CPU from cellular baseband, and end-to-end encrypted decentralized communication. Moreover, the phone has hardware kill switches for the camera, microphone, WiFi, baseband, and Bluetooth, so you can turn them off the hard way and be sure about it. Finally, Purism promises lifetime updates for it, and the battery is replaceable, so you can keep it for as long as you like.

Does this sound like a phone you’d be willing to pay $700 for? Let us know in the comments beneath, or join the discussion on our socials, on Facebook and Twitter.

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