Besides the memory increasing from 1GB to 2GB why didn’t the engineers use a more capable CPU? At the price point of the LoRa model, one would think a minimum that Cortex A73 would be used like the Raspberry Pi 4 which has an MSRP of $75 for the 8GB model.
Please keep in mind that the Raspberry Pi foundation is an educational charity who has been around for just over a decade and has countless special contracts with different tech companies including broadcom who supplies the SoC and Sony UK who manufactures and assembles the PCBs.
No commercial effort will ever be able to compete with them.
Secondly the more powerful the SoC the higher the thermal output and lower the battery runtime becomes.
Striking a balance of those factors in a portable device is crucial.
The RPi 4 pretty much always needs some form of thermal regulation now, active cooling recommended. RPi 4 also comes with no screen, keyboard, charger/powerbrick, case, battery, LoRa module, GNSS module, or eMMC onboard storage.
In the end they’re completely different devices with completely different purposes.
What about Odroid and all the clones, like BananaPi, OrangePi or whatever? Last time I checked, most of them had more affordable alternatives.
We will be writing a blog post about the considerations to be taken when selecting an SoC for a new device. In the meantime, @starchaser hit on many of them. One that he did not mention is software support. We chose the A64 because it is widely used in other portable Linux devices. As such, Pocket P.C. will have more mature software support out of the gate as opposed to if we had selected a newer SoC. Most, if not all of the A64 SoC is mainlined in Linux.
I’d like to address the point by @pauliunas. As a consumer one may not recognize that the low pricing by some other SBC manufacturers is offered because their main business is not in the sale of the SBC itself but in the customization and contract services they provide to businesses interested in incorporating their SBCs into their own products. The low price is an enticement to try their products and if it works for the businesses application they are inclined to have the same manufacturer make or work on their products.
We will expand on all of this and share our thoughts within the next few weeks.
@sourceparts I’m happy that you are keeping it safe on the SOC side. I’m also backing the librem 5 from Purism and proud to do so. But if you look at all (the great) work they are doing on the Linux support it’s definitely not for the faint hearted. Not to forget an vastly different scale and time frame.