Purism Librem 5 Review

Purism Librem 5 Review 2024

Purism Librem 5 promises more privacy in a smartphone-driven world. It comes with open-source Linux software, a modular design, and a removable battery, giving users some extra options.

What are the specifications of Purism Librem 5?

Purism librem 5 price

It features 3GB RAM, 32GB eMMC storage, a 13MP rear camera, and an 8MP front camera. The left side of the phone has three hardware kill switches that power off the camera and microphone, the WiFi and Bluetooth modems, and the baseband modem.

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Purism Librem 5 Review 2024


The first thing reviewers noticed was that the Librem 5 was incredibly heavy, especially considering it was plastic and they weren’t fans. With so many lightweight options out there, reviewers weren’t sure whether the compromise for more privacy was worth it.

The most crucial change in the Purism Librem 5 is the kill switch on the side for WiFi, mobile inInternetcamera and speakers.


Librem 5 boasts a unique and robust design. The device features a 5.7-inch HD display surrounded by sizable bezels, giving it a hefty feel when held in the hand. Some may find the design bulky compared to more stylish smartphones, but it provides the device with a unique, sturdy feel.


Hardware components, including NXP i.MX 8M Quad Processor, 3GB RAM, and 32GB storage provide ample power for everyday tasks. However, users accustomed to high-end flagship smartphones may find their performance a bit lacking in resource-intensive applications and multitasking scenarios.


The Librem 5’s general performance is decidedly average. Despite the sharp display and impressive hardware specs, the leading software is slow, and some basic features have significant room for improvement.

For example, telephony works, but speaker mode is unusably quiet. The volume buttons make no difference at all. However, call quality is okay. The network connection appears to be allowed. The phone quickly connected to the local WiFi router. However, connectivity with other devices was less convincing.

As a Linux phone, there’s no natural way to benchmark it using popular tools like Antutu, but the Librem 5 isn’t quite ready for its prime yet, so benchmarking it at this stage would be unfair.

Battery life

The Librem 5’s battery is a clear reminder of its beta status. Despite having less hardware than a standard iPhone or Samsung, the battery loses power at an almost impressive rate. At current settings, a charge lasts 3-5 hours.

Getting Librem 5 up and running required some support from Purism. After a successful initial boot, the phone quickly stopped charging. After charging for a few days, I noticed that the phone refused to charge when turned on. Additionally, it gave off significant heat. It’s not enough to melt anything, but it’s definitely warmer than your phone.

Also, the device refused to boot. Fortunately, the answer was available on the Purism website. While this experience highlights the phone’s beta nature, the list of issues other users have encountered makes for some serious reading.


It has a browser, email, and software installer, along with the standard phone, messaging, and contact tools. You’ll also find a text editor and terminal, a document viewer, a calculator, a Settings app, and a usage monitor.

Along with blocking browser trackers, Librem 5’s kill switch is a significant privacy bonus. In most cases, this feature works well, but activating and deactivating it quickly makes it difficult for the phone to cope. Subsequent lockups can only be resolved through a complete reboot.

Perhaps one of the main concerns with pre-installed software is the keyboard. The icon in the bottom right allows you to run it from any screen, but the text input implementation is poor. It’s hard to make sure you’re hitting the right keys. There is no swipe option. The accuracy is terrible.

One of the main selling points of the Librem 5 crowdfunding was fusion support, or the ability to use your phone like a PC. But ultimately, there isn’t much on offer. Connecting the device to your phone via Bluetooth did not enable convergence, nor did the USB-C hub with HDMI.

To future-proof your phone and ward off the spectre of planned obsolescence, Purism promises lifetime updates to extend its life.

This alone is a powerful feature, but it falls short of the phone’s essential features. The lack of camera software is a prime example. Meanwhile, the browser is frustratingly slow, struggling to render even the most essential sites in an acceptable time frame.

Installing additional software in the meantime is unreliable. Although installation is complete, there is no guarantee that the app or utility will work as planned.

A representative example is LibreOffice, which refuses software keyboard input. Attempts to install and use a screenshot tool were also fruitless.

Meanwhile, the Bear home screen calls for a UBPort-style collection of swipeable cards. Ubuntu Touch wasn’t a success, but at least it was usable.

With no HTML5 apps, cameras, or convergence disabled, the Librem 5 feels like it’s about to become a full-fledged phone.

Connectivity and Privacy

Librem 5 excels in privacy and security. A hardware kill switch and open-source software stack ensure users have control over their data and privacy. The device also supports encrypted communication protocols to enhance security.

Other things

Physical kill switches for cameras, microphones, and wireless radios are great features that enhance user privacy and control. Additionally, the removable battery is a rare feature in modern smartphones and allows users to replace it, further extending the device’s life quickly.

How much does Librem Purism cost?

Librem 5. Purism’s original Linux kernel-based mobile phone, Librem 5, starts at $699 and features 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage.

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Conclusion of Purism Librem 5 Review

With nearly half of the world’s population owning a smartphone, mobile computing has become the primary way people access the Internet. Smartphones are a standard means for almost one in two people to get online.

It’s no exaggeration to say that there’s plenty of room in the mobile computer market for a third alternative to Android and iOS. This is hard work and an uphill battle. But if there’s an existing platform that can provide the much-needed versatility, it’s a Linux-based platform.

The Librem 5 came pretty close to the third option in its first iteration but missed the mark a bit due to overall build quality issues (the rear battery cover doesn’t stay in place!) and software inconsistencies.

It’s improved significantly over the two months I’ve been reviewing it, but to be fair, Android and iOS have both gone through over a decade of development and improvement. Both are so feature-rich and sophisticated that they can’t lose sight of what makes them different.

This is the most tech-savvy user demographic. If you’re an electrician, tech enthusiast, developer, or repairman, you’ll want to consider Librem 5.


How safe is Librem 5?

There is no Purism Librem 5 yet. This product topped our list of safest phones to buy in 2024. It is known for its unique design, which separates the cellular modem from the main CPU and memory for increased security. It also features a physical kill switch for mobile data, WiFi, a camera, and a microphone.

What processor does Librem 5 have?

The core CPUs in the Librem 5 and Liberty phones sound slow at 1.5GHz. Especially compared to new phones that come out at twice the speed. However, the number of operations per second a CPU can handle is only the beginning of the story. This has no direct correlation to user experience.

In which country was Purism Librem 5 made?

The Librem 5 USA uses Made in USA Electronics, with all fabrication and manufacturing taking place at the Purism facility. Individual components used in manufacturing are sourced directly from chip manufacturers and component distributors.

What is the difference between Librem 5 and Librem 5 USA?

The actual electronics design, physical appearance, and software are all identical. As the name suggests, Librem 5 USA electronics are produced in the United States with a secure supply chain and manufacturing setup and qualify as “Made in USA Electronics.” The original Librem 5 is mass-produced in China.

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