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PinePhone keyboard prototype transforms the Linux phone into a tiny Linux laptop

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While the PinePhone is first and foremost a phone (it’s right there in the name), many of the Linux distributions available for the device are modified versions of desktop operating systems. You can already use the phone like a desktop Linux computer by plugging in a monitor, mouse, and keyboard.

Soon you may also be able to use it as a tiny laptop thanks to Pine64’s official keyboard accessory.

Pine64 first revealed plans to build a keyboard for the PinePhone last fall. Since then the company has refined the design, worked with the community to come up with a layout for the keys, and begun manufacturing prototypes. Now Pine64 community manager Lukasz Erecinski has shared some pictures and a short video giving us a good look at the latest prototype.

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Pine64's new keyboard case turns the PinePhone into a pocketable

  • Pine64's new keyboard case turns the PinePhone into a pocketable Linux laptop

    The PinePhone is an interesting Linux smartphone that has made waves in the Linux community over the past few months. A new device from Pine64, the company behind the handset, aims to enhance the utility of the plucky phone by turning it into a tiny Linux computer.

    Pine64 showed off a new keyboard case for the phone that essentially transforms the PinePhone into a miniature laptop. The PinePhone supports a variety of Linux distros by default and can operate as a pseudo-desktop by hooking it up to a monitor and keyboard (also known as Convergence). The keyboard case is a more convenient option than plugging the phone into a USB-C hub and connecting a standalone keyboard and monitor.

    However, considering the PinePhone’s minuscule 5.95-inch display and its low 1440x720 resolution, using the phone as a clamshell computer seems to be more of a novelty than anything. The utility of such a device is limited, especially when there are far better options for mini-laptops (like the GPD Pocket 2 Max).

PinePhone Keyboard to make for a cheaper...

  • PinePhone Keyboard to make for a cheaper, albeit slower Cosmo Communicator

    Pine64 PinePhone is a popular Linux smartphone among the developers and Linux enthusiasts’ communities and some of the most popular Linux operating systems support by the phone include KDE Plasma Mobile, PostMarket OS, Manjaro, and UBports for an Ubuntu Touch like interface.

    But soon, you’ll be able to use your PinePhone like a portable Linux computer, a 5.95-inch mini laptop of sorts, that’s similar to the 2-in-1 Cosmo Communicator device, but at a much lower price, albeit with lower performance, thanks to PinePhone Keyboard accessory.


    Luke could not provide any ETA with regards to manufacturing or availability in the Pine64, but we should expect more details in the upcoming Pine64 May 2021 update.

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