The first production-ready PinePhones became available earlier this year, giving Linux enthusiasts another option for a phone powered by open-source software. Pine64 has released a few different production runs of the PinePhone, each partnered with a differentOS vendor, and a new model running KDE Plasma Mobile will be available next month.
Android and iOS aren't the only mobile operating systems viable today. Last month, Corbin wrote about the PinePhone, a phone that runs Linux and has physical kill switches for privacy-minded people. The PinePhone isn't alone in its use of Linux; Purism's Librem 5 phone runs PureOS, a free, open-source operating system that's not based on Android. But just because phones like the Librem 5 don't run Android natively doesn't mean users have to miss out on the benefits of the Android ecosystem.
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Modern smartphones can feel like technological black boxes. The mobile operating systems that power them have become incredibly complex, with often hundreds or possible even thousands of various functions that can trigger things like your GPS, cellular modem, or Bluetooth radio. Even when you tell your phone to turn off certain things, like Wi-Fi, our phones don't always do as they're told. But it doesn't have to be that way, provided you're willing to dive very, very deep into the Linux end of the smartphone pool. The PinePhone is one of the few mobile devices with hardware kill switches for common features, giving you full control over your smartphone.
Android's potential for customization was seemingly endless when it was first introduced, thanks to its Linux kernel and open-source nature. However, Google has introduced more restrictions over the past few years in the name of privacy and security, making root and other deep modifications difficult or impossible. While I agree that most of the security changes in Android are needed (I really don't need the Facebook app digging through my local files), they do mean you are not in full control of your own device.
PINE64, a company that embraces an open and community-driven platform for hardware and software, has begun shipping its first batch of PinePhones, the $150 "BraveHeart" editions. The PinePhone is a Linux-based and developer-focused smartphone, and the BraveHeart in particular is an early-adopter model for the most dedicated of Linux and open-platform users.