Raspberry Pi used to create a £90 smartphone

An engineer has managed to build a smartphone using a Raspbery Pi computer and off-the-shelf components.

David Hunt, from Limerick in the Republic of Ireland, created the touchscreen-enabled device for less than 100.

Hunt said the phone, built to teach basic computer skills in schools, was made with off-the-shelf components with no soldering required. In addition to the Raspberry Pi board (model B), the phone sports a 320 x 240 touchscreen, a 2500mAh battery and a Sim900 GSM/GPRS module which enables the device to call, send texts and use data services..

Dubbed the "PiPhone", the device can make and receive calls and could be capable of more advanced functions more commonly associated with smartphones, such as apps, should the wider Raspberry Pi community write them.

"It's more of a proof of concept to see what could be done with a relatively small form factor with off-the-shelf (cheap) components," said Hunt in a blog post.

"I don't expect everyone to be rushing out to build this one, but I had great fun in doing it."

The two most expensive items to make the phone was the Raspberry Pi board ($40) and the sim module ($48). The rest of the components made up the $158 (94) cost. He added that despite the cost of the phone, most people would be better off buying a normal smartphone.

Hunt said that when he presented the finished device at a local engineering club, he was asked if he had to pay for credit to use the phone.

"That certainly made me think, and we had a good giggle at that. Yes, you still have to pay for credit in the usual way, purchase a SIM card from a local service provider. This is not going to get you free calls!" he said.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.