When smartphones first arrived, it might not have been so strange that devices were running very different programs than our computers. The portable bricks were different enough to sidestep our expectations for computers, and we were all in favor of having disconnected experiences in between. Nowadays, however, devices and users have changed and some want to have the exact same apps on their smartphones and computers. Neither Android nor iOS have been able to fully accomplish this, but a still-experimental phone is poised to make this geek’s dream come true.
Granted, Linux-based phones have always straddled the “bold” side of the mobile market. Canonical’s Ubuntu Touch platform, now continued by community-developed Ubports, supported running some standard Linux software on a phone, with an external display attached. But thanks to a few technical details and poor decisions, the implementation was barely usable.
A new generation of Linux-based smartphones could finally make that geek’s dream of convergence come true. The PinePhone, in particular, has has recently been shown to run Linux desktop programs like GIMP and the desktop version of Firefox for ARM. The phone used in the video below is a developer version and not the final product slated for next year, but performance-wise, it’s already pretty impressive.
Perhaps more impressive is the fact that the PinePhone itself doesn’t have as much raw power compared to the Purism Librem 5 phone, another Linux phone currently in its early stages of distribution and tuning. The fact that it can run heavy programs like Firefox and LibreOffice quite easily is almost surprising.
Of course, none of these desktop apps were designed for touchscreens or small screens, so the experience is far from ideal. Still, the Linux and open source community is a pretty creative bunch and it might one day be possible to turn this PinePhone into a makeshift laptop with the right accessories and connections.