Pinephone Thinking

I can’t wait to get the keyboard.

The Pinephone, by Pine64


This phone is not yet in a position to replace your daily driver, especially if you own a flagship from the past three years or so. You will almost certainly need to tinker, connect a keyboard to fix something with, and encounter bugs ranging from inconvenient to debilitating. The battery life is improving with every batch of software updates, but it still doesn’t last long. Putting mainline Linux on a phone is hard, and living with mainline Linux on your phone isn’t much easier. The only phones the Pinephone could replace for an every-day user would be the supremely cheap Android burners available at Walmart.

My Pinephone

I purchased the higher-spec Beta Edition in March 2021, and it arrived in early May. It came pre-loaded with Manjaro running KDE Plasma Mobile. I would’ve liked to switch to Phosh (Librem’s mobile UI, as I understand) and try that on Manjaro, but I found myself repeatedly frustrated with Manjaro and jumped ship to Archlinux ARM.

First Impressions

The Pinephone does an excellent job of presentation. The phone has a high build quality and sleek look, and the UI that came by default is responsive, well designed, and intuitive.

My phone was one of the few affected with the battery tightness error from the factory; fortunately, I had a screwdriver available that was small enough to unscrew the body screws and loosen the battery enough to perform first time boot.

Bugs I Encountered

When I said that the device isn’t ready for every day users, I meant it. I experienced a whole list of fascinating and unique bugs on about every update. Some were minor, and others made the device unusable.

Manjaro - KDE Plasma Mobile

Everything here is something I experienced while on the Pinephone as delivered, operating system and all.

Arch ARM - Librem’s Phosh

I haven’t dug into Arch ARM as much as I did with Manjaro! It was a good experience for what I had; I felt Phosh was more responsive, and the configurability was improved considerably over Manjaro. However, I don’t have any more specific notes than these for the time being.

Complaints and concerns

Some of these are bug-flavored, but I consider them more of a poor design choice than an error made by the developers.