I placed a pre-order for the PinePhone “Brave Heart” edition as soon as I was able to because, like many, I dream of having a real Linux phone in my pocket, one that runs the same Linux kernel as my desktop.

Now an early hands-on review, independent of Pine64, the company who make the device, has appeared online.

But is it good or is a bit? Well, it’s a bit of both…

Early PinePhone Review

The real “plus” about the PinePhone is the cost: $149. This makes the device cheap enough for casual geeks like me to join in the fun, with no major “needs” than it scratches an itch as a tinkerers toy. just like Linux netbooks back in the day.

The PinePhone is dripping with potential — and you don’t need to be a Linux geek like me to see that!

And this is important. The price and the product here is not being pitched as an absolute Android alternative. This is a phone that many will, for a while, use alongside their main device rather than as their main device.

Again, sort of like how we all used netbooks alongside regular laptops until the software and hardware matured into something that was “good enough”.

So while PinePhone doesn’t boast the fastest specs or even come with a pre-installed OS (yet) the thing is dripping with potential — and you don’t need to be a particularly nerdy Linux geek like me to see that.

Solid hardware, terrific price

Software developer Drew DeVault (who works on Sway, a lightweight i3-inspired WM for Wayland that omg! developer Sam spent some time using) is among those looking at the device based more on what it could do, and less on what it does do.

Putting his hand into his pocket to purchase a development model to see if this dream might finally be realised — and based on his write up, he is pleasantly surprised.

“I have been waiting for this phone for years and years and years,” Drew writes.

“I have been hoping that someone would make a phone whose hardware was compatible with upstream Linux drivers, and could theoretically be used as a daily driver if only the software were up to snuff.”

He continues:

“This is actually happening — all of the free software people I would hope are working on the PinePhone, are working on the PinePhone. And it’s only $150! I could buy four of them for the price of the typical smartphone! And I just might!”

I recommend you read Drew DeVault’s review in full as it’s a far more expansive, explanatory, and technical look at this $150 phone.

Just keep in mind Drew’s review, like the device, is appearing quite early. The PinePhone doesn’t go on “general sale” until early next year. And while various mobile operating systems are being developed for the PinePhone, they remain in varying stages of usability.

But it’s coming — and yes: it can make calls.

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