Pine64’s $199 PinePhone Linux smartphone comes with a physical kill switch in the back to turn off the camera, Wi-Fi, microphone, headphone, and Bluetooth transmitters
Ever since Pine64 launched the PinePhone Linux smartphones, it has been a subject of debates, arguments, and counter-arguments. Some find the PinePhone Linux smartphone an experiment worth trying out while others critique its hardware which is closer to a budget Android smartphone. However, we have to handover to the Pine64 engineers for tackling privacy-related issues first hand.
Ever since Apple issued an advisory to MacBook users not to tape their webcam, many users have been demanding a physical kill switch to stop webcam/microphone/Wi-Fi/GPS being hacked or abused. The Pine64’s PinePhone smartphone comes with a neat physical kill switch to turn those on/off. Under the back cover of PinePhone users can find an array of kill switches that can be used to physically toggle the camera, Wi-Fi, microphone, and GPS transmitters on or off.
The neatly arranged stack of switches situated in the rear of the PinePhone lets you shut down the modem, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microphone, rear camera, front camera, and headphone with a small screwdriver.
Specifications of Pine64’s PinePhone:
The PinePhone comes with a 5.95-inch 1440×720 18:9 HD IPS capacitive touchscreen with 16M colors and runs on Allwinner A64 (quad-core ARM Cortex A53, Mali 400 GPU) chipset. Many expected a better chip but then you are paying $200 for this smartphone. The PinePhone runs on 3GB RAM and has 32GB internal memory(eMMC) which can be extended up to 2TB via a microSD card. The PinePhone has a 5MP rear shooter with LED flash and a 2MP front camera for selfies.
For connectivity, the PinePhomes LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS. It also features other extras like Accelerometer, Gyro sensor, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Compass
The PinePhone comes with a removable 2,800mAh battery which is similar to the Samsung J7 battery. Unlike nano-SIM in the current lot of Android smartphones, PinePhone comes with a micro-SIM and has Type-C USB port for charging and data transfer.
The $199 PinePhone runs on PostmarketOS Linux distro and comes with a convergence package consisting of a compatible USB-C docking bar capable of charging, digital video output, dual USB 2.0 type-A host ports for peripherals (such as keyboard and mouse) and fast Ethernet.
You can place an order for the limited edition PinePhone Community Edition: PostmarketOS with Convergence Package bundle for $200. Or you can just order the phone itself for $150 which comes with 2GB RAM and 16GB internal memory. The Linux smartphone maker has promised deliveries by end of August 2020.
The $199 PinePhone “Community Edition: PostmarketOS With Convergence Package” does have a bit mid-range specs especially the 3GB RAM/32GB internal memory and the 5MP/2MP cameras but I did buy the PinePhone just for the physical kill switches to turn off the peripherals. If this physical security feature becomes popular we could one day be having it on flagship Android smartphones.