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How the Pinephone is Underpowered


... or is it really?

This is post no. 83 for Kev Quirk's #100DaysToOffload challenge. The point is to write many things, not to write good ones. Please adjust quality expectations accordingly :)

My first smartphone was a Huawei / T-Mobile Pulse, around 2009.

It had a giant, 3.5 inch screen, at a resolution of 320x480. It was so large that, before buying it, I ended up gluing together a bundle of folded-up newspapers, in the shape of the phone, and was walking around with that in my pocket, to make it sure that it will fit & would not be terribly uncomfortable. It wasn't.

a Pulse and a Pinephone, side by side. The latter is a lot larger.

(... for reference: the phone on the left is a Pinephone.)

It had a CPU clocked at 528 MHz. Its GPU was... well, um, it didn't have one. It came with 192 MB RAM; for Android 1.5 (that it came with) or 2.2 (that you could upgrade it to if you really wanted to), this was... probably a tiny bit above the minimum specified, so that if you came up with the idea of writing a text message while also listening to music, there was a decent chance that the music player in the background would be killed due to low memory conditions. Which... of course didn't make sense: wasting as much as 10 MB for each open app is definitely something that only a Java thing would end up doing.

It was also fairly laggy and made terrible photos, but... hey, it's a computer! It had GPS and a map which you could use to navigate places. It had a Dropbox client. You could look at PDFs and measure the speed of the train you were traveling on and SSH into servers and identify music and a whole lot of other things you couldn't do on my previous phone! (... which already had a web browser... and had a better camera, actually.)

I also remember that, on a phone with comparable specs, someone has gotten an X server to work, running desktop Firefox. It was an even worse experience, but it could be done.

Now, fast forward about 11 years into the future. We now have a phone that:

Sure, it's more pixels to push, but we do have an actual GPU for that now. Otherwise... this is an epic powerhouse of a phone that people from 2009 could only dream of.

So, unless something went terribly wrong with the software industry since, it should be super easy to make everything on it buttery smooth, right?

... comments welcome, either in email or on the (eventual) Mastodon post on Fosstodon.