I have never used a smart phone other than an iPhone for daily use. Briefly, I had an Android phone on loan, but it didn’t really click with me.

I’d be willing to jump the Apple ship at any time for another phone, but there are three major things that I’d want before I’d actually consider it.

  • Repairability. Apple phones typically score low on iFixit’s smartphone repairability chart, but most phones that have high scores are old. Fairphone (more on that later) and a Xiaomi are the outliers.
  • Open source. The Firefox phone came a step closer. [But was always doomed[(https://www.cnet.com/news/why-the-death-of-the-firefox-phone-matters/). Android, I can accept the argument is more open than iOS, but it is not open source. LineageOS and CopperheadOS will fit the bill.
  • Ethically sourced materials. This is one of the places where Apple shines. Fairphone is built around this ethos. It also claims to be modular, and looks like it does that well.

Fairphone hits two of the three items above - solid repairability and ethically sourced materials. However, it runs proprietary Android, and old Android at that (as of this writing it’s supported version is v6 and Android is on v8). Two out of the three isn’t enough to convince me to drop the platform that I am quite comfortable with.

Purism has now announced that they’ll be creating the Librem 5, a phone who’s goals are to use free and open source software and be as privacy minded as possible. Their announcements don’t go into any great detail about repairability or the sourcing of their materials, but really push the open source bit.

I’ve had mixed feelings about Purism for awhile. They first came on my radar when I started tinkering around with Qubes OS. The concept of a machine that has hardware killswitches for the camera and the microphone is very appealing to me. However, their social media, for the longest time, dealt in nothing but hyperbole. Because of that, it made me doubt the credibility of their company and products. Whoever is on the other side of their Twitter account has either been replaced, or just drinks less of the FOSS Kool-Aid.

I do believe fully in Purism’s philosophy that people need affordable, end user hardware that they can trust that isn’t spying on them. Smart phones is one of the weakest areas for someone who is trying to not get tracked by The Powers That Be.

I wish them well, and I look forward to seeing the details of this project shape up as it comes closer to delivery.