John Floren

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Posted 2021/2/9

Pinephone w/ KDE Plasma Mobile: Initial Thoughts

I recently ordered another Pinephone, “Community Edition: KDE Plasma Mobile”. As you’d guess, it comes pre-installed with KDE Plasma Mobile. After playing with it last night, I’m a little surprised the KDE guys let them ship it.

The first thing to point out is that every input is slow and laggy. Any menu I try to open must be tapped at least twice before it opens. Swiping up to open the application drawer doesn’t always work.

Opening any application means sitting through 5 seconds of a splash screen. Yes, the calculator takes 5 seconds to load. I installed an Emacs package through their software store, and that doesn’t even get past the splash screen–it just sits there until I give up and go back to the home screen.

The camera app (Megapixels) takes several seconds to initialize the camera hardware. Then it displays a very poorly-colored preview, and if I actually try to take a picture, it crashes. No picture is saved.

The sound recorder application that comes pre-installed doesn’t work either: press record, it acts like it is recording, but after a second or so resets back to the initial state. No recordings are saved.

When the screen is off, it’ll frequently not register that I’ve pressed the power button to turn the screen back on.

Apps which work: Buho (note-taking), Calculator, Calindori (calendar), Index (file browser). The KTrip app was able, eventually, to find a BART route from South San Francisco to Embarcadero. The browser mostly works, although the wifi radio seems a little “deaf”: connections drop if I’m upstairs from the wifi AP.

I’m going to try Mobian soon and hope it performs better than it did on my dev phone. KDE, on this new phone, performs worse than the very first Android phones. It performs worse than Angstrom Linux did on an iPaq back in the early 2000s.