Librem 5 backers have begun receiving their Linux phones

When Ars spoke to Purism founder and CEO Todd Weaver two weeks ago, the Librem 5 had been “shipping” for a month, but not to backers—only to Purism employees and inside developers.

Weaver talked a little about the unexpected hardware issues the company had been experiencing late in the game including a batch of phone boards missing a 10kOhm resistor, and he gave us an updated schedule about when the phones would resume shipping. More importantly, Weaver said  would begin receiving their phones by the first week of December.

Thankfully, the company met this latest deadline on time. On November 27, Ars reader Azdle posted a comment to the thread—”Just because I can, hello from my freshly-received Librem 5 phone! (And, no, I don’t work for Purism, I’m just an early backer.” Azdle was also kind enough to share some unboxing pictures and some commentary about what, exactly, a Librem 5 phone from the Birch shipment is—and what it’s not.

What the Librem 5 isn’t (yet)

First of all, it’s not really a “phone” yet. There’s no audio when attempting to place a phone call. The cameras also don’t appear to work yet. Azdle reports “installing and opening up Cheese”—Cheese is a very basic Linux video application, installed by default in many distros—”I just get a message saying ‘no device found.'” There’s also effectively no power management yet, so the Librem doesn’t last long on battery. It takes a long time to charge as well.

The software needs polish in lots of places: Azdle notes that few apps so far understand mobile screen layouts, and there’s no obvious indications which apps have or have not been updated. The charging LED doesn’t light up when the phone’s off—although the phone is actually charging. And fine tunables like kinetic scroll—the ability to flick a scroll-thumb down , and expect it to keep scrolling for pages and pages like a thrown rock—still need tuning.

With that said, we recommend that everybody puts down the pitchforks and snuffs the torches for now. This isn’t  to be a finished, working, retail-ready phone—it’s a (mostly) working prototype, made available in  small numbers to extremely early backers who knew what they were getting into.

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