The PinePhone Works —

The PinePhone Works

by Joshua Branson — February 01, 2022

I have had my PinePhone for about three months now, and it has been a fairly pleasant experience. I decided to use Mobian and Purism’s gnome shell “phosh”, which seems to be the most popular interface for the PinePhone. It is nice to see that I can apply updates almost daily. I am glad that the Mobian devs are working hard to diligently update the phone’s software.

I am using Tello and as my service providers. Tello is a traditional cellular provider, and is a free software cellular provider using XMPP. My Tello number works pretty much anywhere, and works whenever I have wifi. Tello costs me $8 per month (no data plan), and costs me $3 per month. An $11 bill per month with two numbers is not so bad!

The default texting application “chatty”, works really well (also developed by Purism). It will crash once every three weeks or so, but that’s not that bad. It shows me my SMS messages and my XMPP messages. I personally have not tried to switch to another SMS/XMPP application, because I do not believe there is any other application that is as well polished as chatty. However, I am running into the annoying issue, that my number is getting a ton of span from Russian bots. And it seems that chatty does not support blocking numbers. So I have to use another program to block random XMPP accounts.

I am noticing some weird (and to be expected) issues with the PinePhone. Namely, the wifi is a bit wonky. Sometimes I have to reboot to get the wifi to work. Luckily, there is some work on reverse engineering the wifi linux module. I am not currently using that kernel module, but it is out there in the wild.

The battery does not seem to last as long as I would expect. If I am browsing the internet, then I can almost see the internet drain as I use the phone. I am also finding out that I do not receive SMS messages that are sent when my phone is off. That is mildly annoying.

But hey, the phone works! If work did not require me to have a phone, then I would NOT have one. BUT I am greatful that I do not have to suffer in silence and use Android or a dumb phone. So if you want a “smart/dumb phone”, and you are ok with the occassional instability, then the PinePhone might be for you!