PINE64 has [nearly] finalized the PinePhone design

PinePhone design as of February 21, 2019

It has a headphone jack, USB-C with video output, data transfer, and 5V fast charge, and PINE64 is about 90% sure they’ve got the final design, with a few possible modifications still to come.

At Category5 TV, we’re really excited about the privacy features of the PinePhone, as discussed with Lukasz Erecinski during our recent interview. The ability to turn off the cameras, cellular data, WiFi, Bluetooth and speaker using hardware switches is definitely a sought after feature for the privacy-minded user. It comes as a bit of a surprise at first that these hardware privacy toggles will be hidden beneath the “easily removable” back cover. However, with a little more thought I begin to realize that this could be a really, really good thing. Albeit inconvenient for the impromptu Skype call with mom.

From a privacy perspective, it makes a lot of sense that the switch that re-enables your camera is hidden from accidental switching, or even from another person enabling it: Hand your child your phone to play a game and don’t worry about them accidentally triggering the camera. Similarly, it gives me great peace of mind knowing for sure that my LTE data plan isn’t being used in the background. My data minutes are a rare resource that we must conserve.

A headphone jack is very much a necessity. Personally, I listen to audio books and podcasts at night. I am not going to use Bluetooth headphones for that. I use a pillow speaker, which is ideal for nighttime listening. It also stands to be noted that the PinePhone, at a target price of just $150, is a budget phone: it is possible it will be used in markets where Bluetooth headphones (which cost significantly more than wired headphones) are not practical. At least having the headphone jack gives the budget, hard-wired option. It also means the PinePhone can be used to play music at events via loudspeaker. I know, it sounds silly, but I know businesses and restaurants who simply plug their phone into an amp to play music for the customers.

For the current mockup, PINE64 intends to put the headphone jack at the top of the phone. That’s exactly where I want it. However, some people argue it should be on the bottom. I suppose this is a personal preference thing. Back to my pillow speaker, for me, having it on the bottom would be inconvenient (my wall charger is on the far side where my pillow speaker plugs in on the opposite side). So, PINE64, being the community-centred company that they are, put it to a vote:

The speaker, at least for now, is on the back of the phone. I’m not particularly keen on that design features since it means the audio for the video I’m watching will be better heard by the person sitting across from me. But PINE64 says this may change in the final, final design.

The PinePhone will feature the typical volume rocker on the side of the phone, along with a lock button.

Here’s what we know so far about the upcoming PinePhone specs:

  • USB-C for data and charging, with HDMI Video Output (requires an adapter or special cable)
  • Bluetooth + WiFi
  • 4G LTE
  • Privacy (hardware) switches for BT/WiFi, LTE, cameras, speaker
  • eMMC module socket
  • mSD Slot
  • Gyro magnetic sensor
  • Light sensor
  • Volume, power, reset, home buttons
  • Audio aux
  • MiPi and TP interfaces
  • 2mpx and 5mpx front / back cameras
  • Small and compact size of (approx. 165x77mm)
  • 1440×720 IPS panel
  • SOPine module: Allwinner A64 with 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM
  • Price Target: $150

I’m really eager to start hearing of some manufacturers working on cases for the PinePhone. As of yet, I have not seen anything coming down the wire. But I’m really hoping we’ll see some attractive protective cases and screen protectors that will be suited to this new device.

I’ll continue to keep you updated as I learn more.

Here’s what PINE64 has to say on Twitter:

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