Making smartphones is a tough business, especially if you’re not a giant like Samsung or even someone smaller like Motorola. It gets even more difficult when you use a combination of hardware and software that no other company uses, especially those focused on open source solutions and privacy. With that in mind, it’s not hard to imagine that Purism would run into issues even with the early batches of its privacy-focused, Linux-based Librem 5 phone. This is exactly what happened, but the small company is confident it can put things right after only a slight delay.
The schedule Purism announced for the batch shipment of its crowdfunded phones seemed both unorthodox and almost unfair. It has proven to be strategic, however, as it allows Purism to find out bugs and fix them quickly before making all the devices in one batch and sending them all out. Of course, that means those who opt for the previous batches are practically volunteering to be product beta testers with little compensation other than getting their kits early.
Perhaps Purism was hoping that there weren’t any significant changes needed between batches, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. The first batch “Aspen” revealed three issues in particular: suboptimal antenna routing, thermal throttling, and processor placement for heat dissipation.
The next batch, “Birch”, will deal with the placement of the antenna, but this will cause a delay in the shipment. Instead of starting on October 29, the batch will start shipping on November 15th but Purism expects all of these to have shipped by November 26, which is a pretty large order. This is because he expects there to be no more delay in any of the lots.
That said, the next two batches (“Birch” and “Chestnut”) will also not get the processor placement in time. Thermal throttling can be solved through software, Purism assures us, but processor placement requires a PCB redesign. This will only be ready for batch # 4 “Dogwood” in Q1 2020 before the last “Evergreen” mass production batch in Q2. This is if no other major material design flaw is discovered.