For the most part, if you’re looking for a smartphone, you have two choices; Android or iOS. The iPhone is a single device tightly controlled by Apple. Google’s Android platform offers greater selection and a wider range of prices.
However, PINE64, a manufacturer of Linux-based hardware, produce the PinePhone. The device is already available in a range of mobile Linux editions. Now, there’s a new addition to the lineup; the PinePhone UBports Community Edition.
What Is the PinePhone UBports Community Edition?
The physical device looks similar to a mid-range Android device. The body of the phone is black plastic, with only the UBports logo on the rear. This is where you’ll also find the 5MP primary camera. There’s a 2MP front-facing lens, as well.
A small bezel surrounds the 5.95-inch HD display, and the phone weighs 185g. The phone is powered by the ARM Cortex A-53 CPU and supported with 2GB of SDRAM.
While there’s only 16GB of onboard storage, it can be expanded via microSD up to an astounding 2TB. The 3,000mAh battery is removable, too.
The PinePhone UBports Community Edition charges via USB-C, includes a GPS sensor, and comes equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 support.
The hardware may be entry-level, but the exciting thing about this phone—aside from the $150 price tag—is the software.
What Is UBports?
In the years since the launch of the original iPhone, there have been many attempts to develop an alternative smartphone operating system. So far, the only viable option has been Google’s Android.
However, neither platform fully caters to the passionate contingent of Linux supporters. Apple’s closed-source environment sits in direct opposition to Linux’s foundations. Android’s dependence on Google services is also a source of contention.
UBports is a community of developers contributing to the Ubuntu Touch software, a mobile-friendly port of Ubuntu. The platform inevitably suffers some of the same pitfalls as other alternatives, like the lack of a fully-stocked app store. However, it’s integration with the main Linux distro is a crucial feature.
For instance, UBports is working on Convergence—the ability to plug your phone into any monitor and expand into desktop mode. To satisfy the Linux faithful, you’ll find a full Ubuntu Terminal available on the phone, along with a host of other open-source apps preinstalled.
Of course, one of the main draws here is that the UBports Ubuntu Touch is genuinely open-source, rather than the restrictive semi open-source nature of Android. There’s also OpenStore, an app store for third-party developers.
Where Can You Buy the PinePhone UBports Community Edition?
The PinePhone UBports Community Edition is available to pre-order on the Pine64 Store for $150 and is expected to ship in late May 2020.
If you want to experiment with a Linux-based smartphone, but don’t want to buy a new device, there are options. When you feel ready to make the switch from Android, check out these Linux smartphone operating systems for inspiration.
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