Average Joe review of Pinephone Pro (March 2023)
#1
Updated on 14.10.2023

Short background so you can understands the starting points
I prefer myself as a skilled end user of mobile linux - so I am not developer (what ever that means in 2023) but I understand little bit about something.
I have been daily driving* mobile linux for many years. I have been also using linux as desktop machines as long as I remember.
*Really daily driving so if you have never used mobile linux before please note that your experience might be very much different than mine

This review talks
Mostly about Phosh because it is currently the most stable and easiest DE to operate out of the box. Some things are similar with other DE's but I have not tried them so intense.
Mostly about PPP as a phone - because after all it is Pinephone Pro Wink.

Let's start with what I think is the last thing that gets in the way of daily driving PPP:
There are some callaudio issues which are not solved yet and for me it is show stopper. Reported issues:
https://gitlab.com/postmarketOS/pmaports/-/issues/2016
https://gitlab.com/pine64-org/pine64-als...-/issues/5
https://gitlab.com/pine64-org/pine64-als...requests/9
+
if you turn wifi/bluetooth killswitch off (as in you kill wifi/bluetooth) callaudio will suspend in seconds and makes calling impossible. Megi has all ready fixed this but the fix is not yet landed to distros.

How to achieve stable phone state? (excluding callaudio)
I never get any phone calls trough to suspended PPP if I was not using Biktorgjs firmware and all recommended settings - I really love it but because carriers work so differently it is hard to recommend it without any conditions. For me PP or PPP would not be a reliable phone without Biktorgjs awesome work.
https://github.com/the-modem-distro/pinephone_modem_sdk
postmarketOS and danct arch where the two distros where all phone functions did work. With all others I did face some issues.
To have more working callaudio I suggest to use pulseaudio instead of pipewire-pulse and wireplumber (in my testing wireplumber will cause lot of failures when routing callaudio and that combined with the above issues is pain) - this has downside for camera usage but which one do you want to choose?
Also to use PPP as a phone you sure want to make sure you have battery when you need it - so key is to suspend as fast as possible and as much as possible.

I daily drived Pinephone Pro for a few weeks - how did it go?
I charge my PPP as full as it gets in the evening. Then it rests next to me until morning (on suspend without charger) and wakes me up - I do have backup alarm clock because Pinephone did freeze few times but I have not seen it with PPP. (With pmos alarm clock works out of the box)
After 8-10 hours of suspend my PPP has something like 80% battery.
I go to work and I use PPP as my work phone - I answer calls and send messages trough it.
After week of intense daily driving I have 0 failed calls and 0 failed sms/mms (I monitor them trough my carrier platform).
I have also dock and display so I can plug PPP to dock and use it as a computer - and it just works!
For me biggest difference to PP is that "convergence connection to external display" is stable as f*ck - PP was more proof of concept and really terrible to use (at least it feels like this after I have used PPP).
When my PPP is in dock it will at the same time be in charger - don't use dock with external display without charger because your battery will die like in 15-30 minutes.
I am usually at work for like 10 hours and when I get home in the evening I still have 30-50% battery.
If I have been using dock it will have charged the phone - yes. But if I have not used the dock my phone have been suspended most of the time and the battery is about in the same level.

What I am really happy about?
Finally I have true convergence linux phone which I can reliable use as a phone also.
Pinephone Pro is as fast as phone needs to be -> yes I would love to have even faster phone but this is enough so I can show it to my friend and say test it and he/she might even like it.

What are the cons?
Pinephone Pro is not device where you watch Youtube videos or play mobile games - it will drain your battery.
You can't do any intensive stuff when docked because phone gets really hot - but hey it's phone not super pc.

What does not work (or works only as proof of concept)
Mostly familiar things from OG PP:
camera (but I think in a "near future" libcamera will bring lot lot of evolve to this)
speaker on calls (see the issue links above)
internet notifications when suspended

For who I recommend PPP?
You can live without constant phone browsing when you are on the road
In your regular day you have opportunity to charge phone in cycles of 10 hours
You don't need internet (email etc.) notifications asap
You have linux end user knowledge or the desire to learn for yourself
You don't except that everything works out of the box (because it does not you have to settle for compromises in many things)
  Reply
#2
(03-06-2023, 04:02 PM)alaraajavamma Wrote: ...
I am also using Biktorgjs fantastic modem firmware and all recommended settings - I really love it but because carriers work so differently it is hard to recommend it without any conditions. For me PP or PPP would not be a reliable phone without Biktorgjs awesome work.

...

btw, i own pp regulars but not pp pro.

https://github.com/the-modem-distro/pine...ETTINGS.md

if you use stock rom, i recommend those settings anyway. modem has bad habbit to disconnect approximately in every hour and disappear in every day. (if modem disconnects or disappears in every 10 minutes or less, it indicates hardware problem).

if stock rom,biktorgj recommends 30.006.30.006 https://github.com/Biktorgj/quectel_eg25_recovery . i am fifty-fifty on 30.006.30.006 and 30.007.30.007, link https://github.com/Biktorgj/quectel_eg25...007.30.007 .
  Reply
#3
(03-06-2023, 04:02 PM)alaraajavamma Wrote: Hello Pine64 community!

Many people hoped for Pinephone Pro reviews in its current state so I decided that I can try to write one.

Short background so you can understands the starting points
I prefer myself as a skilled end user of mobile linux - so I am not developer (what ever that means in 2023) but I understand little bit about something.
I have been daily driving* mobile linux for many years. First with Ubuntu Touch and old android phones, then maybe over year with OG PP and now with PPP. I have been also using linux as desktop machines as long as I remember.
*Really daily driving so if you have never used mobile linux before please note that your experience might be very much different than mine

How did I get my PPP to state where I can daily drive it?
I actually use my phone as a phone so for me mandatory thing number 1. is that calls work.
First I did lot of distro hopping to find out stable platform and it took days and it already started to screw up because there was all ways something what was not working (mic was too low, audio was cut, there was no ringtone etc.). I am not sure are these coincidences but after I did install latest tow-boot and turned all kill-switches on I did get working calls (=callaudio) with postmarketOS.
But it was really relief that after this everything became quite easy, because postmarketos has done a fantastic groundwork and practically everything else worked out-of-the-box
I am also using Biktorgjs fantastic modem firmware and all recommended settings - I really love it but because carriers work so differently it is hard to recommend it without any conditions. For me PP or PPP would not be a reliable phone without Biktorgjs awesome work.

My regular day with Pinephone Pro
I charge my PPP as full as it gets in the evening. Then it rests next to me until morning (on suspend without charger) and wakes me up - I do have backup alarm clock because Pinephone did freeze few times but I have not seen it with PPP. And yes with pmos alarm clock works out of the box.
After 8-10 hours of suspend my PPP has something like 80-90% battery.
I go to work and I use PPP as my work phone - I answer calls and send messages trough it.
After week of intense daily driving I have 0 failed calls and 0 failed sms/mms (I monitor them trough my carrier platform).
I have also dock and display so I can plug PPP to dock and use it as a computer - and it just works!
For me biggest difference to PP is that "convergence connection to external display" is stable as f*ck - PP was more proof of concept and really terrible to use (at least it feels like this after I have used PPP).
When my PPP is in dock it will at the same time be in charger - don't use dock with external display without charger because your battery will die like in 15-30 minutes.
I am usually at work for like 10 hours and when I get home in the evening I still have 30-50% battery.
If I have been using dock it will have charged the phone - yes. But if I have not used the dock my phone have been suspended most of the time and the battery is about in the same level.

What I am really happy about?
Finally I have true convergence linux phone which I can reliable use as a phone also.
Pinephone Pro is as fast as phone needs to be -> yes I would love to have even faster phone but this is enough so I can show it to my friend and say test it and he/she might even like it Big Grin
After I found working callaudio everything was really familiar and easy and I could "import" so many things from OG PP.

What are the cons?
Pinephone Pro is not device where you watch Youtube videos or play mobile games - it will drain your battery.
You can't do any intensive stuff when docked because phone gets really hot - but hey it's phone not super pc.
There is something odd about the audio and mic but because I eventually got it working I hope it is software related (this mainly affects to calls only)

What does not work (or works only as proof of concept)
Mostly familiar things from OG PP:
camera (but I think in a "near future" libcamera will bring lot lot of evolve to this)
speaker on calls
internet notifications when suspended

For who I recommend PPP?
You can live without constant phone browsing when you are on the road
In your regular day you have opportunity to charge phone in cycles of 10 hours
You don't need internet (email etc.) notifications asap
You have linux end user knowledge or the desire to learn for yourself
You don't except that everything works out of the box (because it does not you have to settle for compromises in many things)

What else?
Ask me anything you want I can try to answer
What has been your success level with SMS messaging and MMS (message with attachments) messaging?  I am not familiar with Biktorgis. Do you have a reference for Biktorgjs?  Is this modem software or does it have another use?

I'm debating buying a new ppp motherboard just to get a new sim/sd cardholder and trying again.

thanks,    tom kosvic
  Reply
#4
(03-11-2023, 08:36 PM)tckosvic Wrote: What has been your success level with SMS messaging and MMS (message with attachments) messaging?  I am not familiar with Biktorgis. Do you have a reference for Biktorgjs?  Is this modem software or does it have another use?
Biktorgj is the (abbreviated) name of a developer. See https://github.com/Biktorgj. Biktorgj's main software project is the Pinephone Modem Distro and SDK. This is indeed software (firmware) for the modem used in the PinePhone and the PinePhone Pro (the Quectel EG-25G). See https://github.com/the-modem-distro/pinephone_modem_sdk. That is what people talk about when they say "Biktorgj's firmware".

Biktorgj also releases scripts to upgrade, downgrade, or restore (after switching to the aforementioned custom firmware, if you are unhappy with it) the vendor firmware from Quectel, see: https://github.com/Biktorgj/quectel_eg25_recovery. That repository also distributes copies of the Quectel firmware, but that firmware must not be called "Biktorgj's firmware" or you create a lot of confusion.
  Reply
#5
I need to come back to this little bit and unfortunately this prevents daily driving for me so back to Pinephone Smile

I found out that if you get phone call while PPP is suspended your mic does not work correctly and it is really really low (maybe 60-70% lower than usual)
Suspend alone is not "destroying" mic because you can wake phone with power button and call to someone with 100% working mic.
I created an issue here if you wan't more information
https://gitlab.com/postmarketOS/pmaports/-/issues/2016
  Reply


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