Google Endorses Raspberry Pi Zero, ZeroPhone Fans Get Excited

Recently hitting the crowdfunding stage, the ZeroPhone – a Raspberry Pi Zero-based smartphone – is perhaps the ultimate in DIY communications projects. Described as a “PCB sandwich” the ZeroPhone is capable of more than just making phone calls on the 2G network (3G is expected later) or connecting to Wi-Fi. 

Developer Arsenijs Pičugins, from Riga, Latvia, has added a 1.3-inch, 128 x 64 monochrome OLED display to a standard Pi Zero W running Raspbian Lite to get this project off the ground. The result is a compact phone with 1GHz CPU and 512MB DDR2 RAM, which can be charged via micro USB. 

Unlike most phones, it has an HDMI output, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack. Given that the Pi Zero W also has Bluetooth and a dedicated micro USB data socket, the Pi Zero has more connectivity than a £750 smartphone. All you’ll need are soldering skills. 

A Pi Zero W costs less than £10 to buy online. The ZeroPhone project is expected to cost around £40 (a $50 figure is cited online, with Pičugins reluctant for the price to go above $100) which will not only give you a lightweight, open source smartphone running Linux (Ubuntu take note), but also a portable, battery-powered hobbyist device. The ZeroPhone’s heart, the Pi Zero, can still be used as the hub of DIY projects; the camera module port remains, and the GPIO can potentially still be accessed. 

Thinking about how you might use a ZeroPhone beyond making calls? Applications written in Python will run on the device, of course, and many of the Raspberry Pi’s portable projects should run. Beyond that, Google announced in early December that the AIY Vision Kit would be released with full support for the Pi Zero as its preferred device. Image recognition on a Raspberry Pi Zero-powered smartphone? Such possibilities! 

Head to CrowdSupply to back the ZeroPhone’s development.


Christian Cawley

Christian Cawley spends a lot of time with Raspberry Pis and scours the web looking for interesting DIY electronics projects and news for ElectroMaker. He's currently trying to show his 7 year old son how to get to grips with Scratch, but so far to no avail.


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