Summary: Librem 5 will increase to $749 on January 1, 2020 and once Evergreen ships, will arrive at its final $799 price to reflect the actual final costs of the hardware, instead of being based off estimates.
Purism has launched a number of successful crowdfunding campaigns over the years, with the Librem 5 campaign as its most successful. One way that we reward early backers for their patience is by providing an introductory “early bird” price. When you are creating a new phone from scratch, in the early phases prices are incredibly rough estimates. After all, a number of factors from volume to time to suppliers all play a part in price and it’s difficult if not impossible to know all of your final costs years in advance. So you pick an estimate on the low side to reward early backers, understanding that eventually you will have to increase to your final price.
As we mention in our Breaking Ground post, we couldn’t achieve our goals with an inexpensive, off-the-shelf phone and instead had to design the Librem 5 from scratch:
What made and makes the hardware design expensive are several things. First of all the lack of reference design. Most other phones (especially Android phones) are based more or less on reference designs of the chipset, (i.e. from the CPU manufacturers). If you go with a, say, MTK-based design, then the hardware design is more like going shopping…
We did not have this luxury. We had to design the hardware from scratch and we also have to develop many drivers ourselves–everything that is not yet available as free software in upstream mainline Linux kernels.
In early 2019 as we started to get better estimates for our costs, we realized we’d need to increase the price to at least $699–at the time what we thought would be the final price. Fast forward a couple of months and those estimates turned out to be optimistic. Once we knew our final costs for the mass-produced Librem 5 Evergreen batch we realized we’d need to increase the final price to $799.
We are going to do the price increase in stages. The Librem 5 will stay at its current $699 price until the end of 2019. Starting on January 1, 2020 it will increase to $749 where it will stay until we start shipping Evergreen. At that point it will increase to its final $799 price.
With the Librem 5, we aren’t building yet another disposable smartphone you will throw away after 2 or 3 years when it stops getting updates. We are building a mobile platform with longevity as part of its design and updates for the life of the device:
When you look at the longevity designed into the Librem 5, there’s just no comparison with existing disposable smartphones on the market with a 3-year expiration date. Whether it’s a $1100 flagship phone, a $500 unlocked mid-range phone, or a free low-end smartphone that’s subsidized by selling your data, the sticker price only tells part of the story. Whether it’s OS and app updates that slow down your phone, security updates that stop after a few years, batteries that fail, networks that upgrade, or storage that fills up, you’ll be paying that same price in a few years, and a few years after that. You don’t own a modern smartphone, you rent it.
The Librem 5 is part of a long-term vision to change the exploitative and toxic tech world we all live in. The world needs a mobile computer that doesn’t spy on you, protects your privacy, lets you own your hardware and your data, gives you the freedom to use it however you wish, and doesn’t try to lock you in or force you to upgrade every few years. With the Librem 5 we have built a mobile platform that’s made to last.