The "1-Minute" Review
VerdictWhile a great idea on paper, the Purism Librem 5 disappointed reviewers on virtually all fronts. Buy with caution.
- Open-source operating system
- Better privacy
- Lifetime updates
- Removable battery
- Poor touchscreen response
- Horrible battery life
- It gets hot when charging
The Purism Librem 5 comes with a promise for more privacy in a world run by smartphones that share our data like candy on Halloween. With its open-source Linux software, modular design, and removable battery, it gives you a few more options but does this phone really set you free?
The first thing reviewers noticed was how incredibly heavy the Librem 5 is, especially for being plastic, and they were not fans. With so many feather-light options out there, reviewers weren’t sure if it was worth compromising for more privacy. The most significant change for the Purism Librem 5 is the kill switches on the side, one for WiFi, mobile internet, and camera and speaker.
Reviewers stated that the 5.7-inch TFT IPS display was colorful and quite crisp.
The spec list for the Purism Librem 5 looks excellent, but reviewers found the reality is less so. Reviewers stated that while its initial boot is faster than an Apple phone, the software is slow to open. More so, some reviewers had to call support to get the phone to run on the first boot--not the most reassuring experience.
Software & Storage
It has very decent storage and expandability up to 2TB, which is no small feat, using MicroSD, and a smart card reader. Being a Linux-based phone, it can boot up so fast but it’s not optimized to run on a smartphone. Reviewers found the software frustrating to use.
The Purism Librem 5 has a 13MP primary lens and an 8MP selfie cam. However, reviewers stated that there wasn’t any camera software on the phone to determine whether it captured good photos.
Battery life for the Purism Librem is dismal. Reviewers reported 4 or 5 hours of use before it needed to charge. Furthermore, you have to completely shut the phone down to charge it. Otherwise, it will refuse to charge. Then, reviewers said that the phone got extremely hot while charging. Not enough to melt anything or catch fire, but in a way that’s not normal for a phone.
Reviewers didn’t have much to say about audio, but to be fair, phone audio only gets so good. There is, however, a headphone jack if you’d like to enjoy your audio experience better.
Specs at a Glance
- Plastic chassis
- 5.7-inch TFT IPS display
- ARM NXP i.MX 8M Cortex A53 Quad-core 1.5 GHz processor
- 3GB of RAM
- 32GB of storage expandable via MicroSD put to 2TB
- 13MP primary lens and 8MP selfie camera
- Articles say 3500mAh battery
- Three kill switches for WiFi, mic and cam
The heart of Purism Librem 5 is a good base with current concerns about privacy and data gathering, but it was just not executed correctly. Between the booting problems, the lack of speed, and battery longevity, perhaps the Librem 5 should have stayed in beta and received a little more work before its debut.
Tech Radar says, “The Librem 5 will certainly appeal to privacy and security conscious users with its hardware kill switches and specially designed hardware. However, the phone is difficult to recommend in its current state but hopefully it will be improved with future software updates and subsequent hardware revisions.”
Tech Republic comments, “Linux does have a successful path to the mobile phone rank and file. The Librem 5 is a long, long, long way off from being consumer ready. But if Purism can fix the problems and find more consumer-friendly hardware, this Linux smartphone could finally gain traction in an incredibly challenging market.”
What the Critics Are Saying...
- Christian Cawley, TechRadar
The Librem 5 will certainly appeal to privacy and security conscious users with its hardware kill switches and specially designed hardware. However, the phone is difficult to recommend in its current state but hopefully it will be improved with future software updates and subsequent hardware revisio...
- Christian Cawley, Make Use Of
With a solid operating system and privacy-focused hardware kill switches, the Librem 5 is bulkier than expected and eats through battery. While the philosophy behind the phone is sound, Librem 5 is unlikely to be picked up by anyone other than Linux users and privacy advocates.
- Jack Wallen, TechRepublic
Linux does have a successful path to the mobile phone rank and file. The Librem 5 is a long, long, long way off from being consumer ready. But if Purism can fix the problems and find more consumer-friendly hardware, this Linux smartphone could finally gain traction in an incredibly challenging marke...
- Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica
The OS and app package is not nearly finished, and it lacks basic smartphone functionality. The hardware is nearly finished, but you'll have a hard time taking advantage of it right now since the power management isn't really implemented, and support for things like the cameras are non-existent. If...
Prices (Where to Buy)
Purism backs up the Librem 5 with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your Librem 5 has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact Purism support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find Purism's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.
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