The NSA is spying on you. Do these words haunt you? Well, you’re not alone. Disclosures suggest that the NSA and its surveillance partners have been analyzing data of millions of Americans & International citizens for the past many years.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on their list but if you have some confidential information, you don’t want to get leaked, you need to step up your game. And this should start with something that’s always close to you, Your Phone.

Purism, the company behind high-end Linux laptops has successfully crowdfunded a $599 Linux based phone. Librem 5 is a privacy-focused smartphone which will run Linux based PureOS or any other Linux distro of your choice. The idea behind the Librem 5 is having a smartphone for those who are extremely cautious about their privacy.

It secures your data from 3rd parties and also makes sure that your calls and messages are not being tracked without your permission.

Being an open source device not only makes it more secure and private but also gives it a broad community support.

Librem 5: Specs and Features

Purism librem 5 with desktop dock
image source: google images

The Librem 5 is still in its early stage, so these specs may change during the development phase. But we can get an idea of what Purism is up to with its open-source smartphone.

*5″ touchscreen
*i.MX6/i.MX8 CPU
*Vivante GPU (Etnaviv free software accelerated driver)
*Separate mobile baseband
*3GB LPDDR3 RAM
*32GB eMMC
*MicroSD slot
*Front and back camera
*Headphone and Microphone Jack
*WiFi 802.11
*Bluetooth 4
*USB Type-C
*GPS, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass, Ambient, Light, and Proximity sensor.
*Hardware kill switches for Camera, Microphone, Baseband, WiFi/Bluetooth
* Matrix powered end-to-end encryption for calls and texts
*HTML 5 app support

Why Do We Need An Open Source Smartphone?

Supported distros on Librem 5
image source: Purism

The smartphone market consists of two major players. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
When it comes to privacy, our phones know more about us than anyone else. Every time you use an app, you are putting your privacy at stake as most of the iOS and Android apps require access to your files, contacts, camera, etc.

With Librem 5, Purism wants to give you a 3rd option. A phone which respects your privacy and gives you full control and customization options. There is a hardware kill switch for the camera, microphone, Bluetooth/WiFi, and Baseband. You can be sure that no proprietary hardware or software is tracking you. Also, Purism promises you the latest software and security updates over the air.

Librem 5 gives you the freedom of choice. You can install most of the Linux distros of your choice like Debian, Ubuntu, Arch Linux, Open Suse, etc.
The company has already reached its $1.5 million crowdfunding goal and the development will begin soon.
But don’t get too excited because the smartphone is not expected to ship before 2019.

My Opinion

Librem 5 is not a smartphone with best in class hardware. It won’t give you the rich mobile app ecosystem like Android and iOS.

It is all about claiming your digital rights and having a third, more secure option.
If you care about privacy or security, or you want to be able to run a true Linux distro running the GNU stack, then you would probably want a Librem 5.