Arsenij Pichugin’s ZeroPhone is designed around the Raspberry Pi Zero, an Arduino microcontroller, and the ESP8266 module. (Image credit: Arsenij Pichugin via Crowd Supply)


I thought this was a fantastic use of a Raspberry Pi Zero, I had to mention it.


Arsenij Pichugin debuted his ZeroPhone in January of last year and was touted as a $50 open-source smartphone you could build yourself without all the hassles of using a carrier-based phone. A year later, the technology has matured, and the software ‘is being morphed into a lightweight phone-tailored UI framework.’


The idea behind the ZeroPhone is to put every facet of the technology under user control, rather than in the hands of big corporations who typically lock their wares to specific carriers, load them with enough bloatware to kill batteries after a few hours of use, and grab as much information about you as they possibly can.


The ZeroPhone’s extension ports can be used for a myriad of different options, including an IR transmitter/receiver, equipping a Pi camera, or adding additional displays or buttons. (Image credit: Arsenij Pichugin via Crowd Supply)


Under the hood, the latest revision of the ZeroPhone packs a Raspberry Pi zero, an ESP8266 module, an Arduino microcontroller and features Wi-Fi, HDMI, USB port, numeric keypad, and a 3.5mm headphone jack along with a 1.3-inch (128 X 64p) OLED display. Although the phone only supports 2G speeds at this point, 3G is expected to come soon.


The phone also sports a host of extension ports that you can use to add increased functionality- including adding additional displays, equipping an IR transmitter/receiver, adding a Pi camera, pack more sensors, as well as incorporating GPS, Ethernet, and extra storage through MicroSD expansion.




As far as software is concerned, the phone is ‘Linux-based,’ although last year it rolled with Raspbian, which doesn’t mean it will still host the same flavor. You can again program your own apps using Python though, for those proficient in coding. As it stands at this point, final changes are being made to the ZeroPhone and will be crowdfunded on Crowd Supply in kit form along with a limited batch of fully assembled phones.


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