At the end of November 2019, PINE64 released its first mainstream Linux-powered smartphone – the PinePhone. Since the phone’s hardware was just too weak to handle the unrefined software, most of its users already knew the phone was meant to be used for development and experimentation rather than an ordinary daily driver.
About two years later, PINE64 finally announced the upcoming release of the new PinePhone Pro. This updated version includes better hardware and better software.
With these improvements, is the PinePhone Pro Linux phone a reasonable candidate to be your next daily driver? We will take a look.
The PinePhone Pro hardware
The raw hardware processing power of the Pinephone Pro is similar to that of many mid-range smartphones from mainstream manufacturers.
- CPU: Rockchip RK3399S 64bit SoC â 2x A72 and 4x A53 processor cores clocked at 1.5 GHz
- GPU: Mali T860 quad-core ARM clocked at 500MHz
- Storage room: 128 GB eMMC flash and optional micro SD SDXC card up to 2 TB
- Cameras: Sony IMX258 13MP main camera with Gorilla Glass 4, OmniVision OV5640 5MP front camera
- ACL: 6 “1440 x 720 IPS display with Gorilla Glass 4
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: AMPAK AP6255 WiFi ac and Bluetooth 4.1
- I / 0: SD Mirco slot, Pogo pins, USB type C, audio jack (UART)
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass, Ambient light
- Drums: 3000mAh (removable)
PINE64 worked with Rockchip to deliver the RK3399S, a modified version of the RK3399. Although this is the same SoC used in the PineBook Pro, the manufacturer had to limit their processor performance to around 20% slower for reasonable battery consumption and thermal limits.
The GPU defaults to 500 MHz to maintain a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) under non-artificial load. However, PINE64 kept it unlocked for the community to experiment with the GPU.
One of the main features of the PinePhone Pro is its six privacy DIP switches located on the back of the phone. The switches are physically linked to six modules (modem, WiFi / Bluetooth, microphone, rear camera, front camera, and headset), which you can turn on or off to further increase your privacy with the already secure Linux phone.
The six pogo pins will also be available and compatible with the add-ons of the original PinePhone, such as the keyboard, Pinedio LoRa (a long-range, low-power wireless platform), fingerprint reader and wireless charger. wire.
Since the pogo pins support I2C serial communication, it allows users to connect and experiment with a wide range of I2C sensors and modules.
PinePhone Pro software
The PinePhone Pro will ship with Manjaro equipped with KDE Plasma Mobile, the popular mobile environment for Linux phones. Other distributions will probably be available when the Explorer version is released.
KDE Plasma Mobile allows the use of Kirigami applications. These apps run natively on Linux and can go from phone to office seamlessly. Such applications allow users to connect their Pinephone Pro to a mouse, keyboard and monitor and use it like a regular PC.
Plasma Mobile provides a collection of Kirigami apps that provide a great replacement / substitution for the core apps you would usually use in Android or IOS. These apps would include Neo (messaging), Vvave (music player), PlasmaTube (Youtube app), Okular (document reader), and Kasts (podcast app).
As with the majority of mainstream social media, you will need to access it through the phone’s web browser.
The PinePhone Pro also works great with retro gaming emulators, including SuperTuxKart, Dreamcast emulation, or the PSP.
As a catch-all, users can also use Anbox to run Android apps on the smartphone, albeit with specific limitations.
Is the PinePhone capable enough to be a daily driver?
The PinePhone Pro has come a long way since the original PinePhone. With all of its hardware upgrades, this future smartphone definitely has the raw processing capabilities to run like a daily pilot.
However, hardware isn’t the only thing that makes a phone worth driving on a daily basis. Even PINE64 itself admits that the software side of the phone still has a long way to go. Optimizations still need to be completed and there are many more apps to be developed for regular smartphone users to enjoy a Linux phone.
If you are just a regular user looking for a phone that makes your life easier, then this phone is not for you. But if you are a security specialist, Linux enthusiast, DIY enthusiast, or developer, then the PinePhone Pro as a daily driver is definitely worth considering.
When it comes to smartphones, the situation looks grim for privacy enthusiasts. Fortunately, you have a few options.
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