Sunday, April 26, 2015

Turning Samsung galaxy note 4 (SM-N910F) into a mobile pc - Part 1 - The idea

As technology advances, mobile devices are becoming more and more prowerful, with quad core cpu and up to 3gb of ram memory. Since the battery of my good old nokia n900 was getting weaker and weaker, i decided to move on get a new device with today standard specifications. However i was unable to find a decent one with a qwerty keyboard. I tried to look for a UMPC but those devices are no longer manufactured, they were replaced by tablets.
It seems like we will never see physical qwerty keyboards on mobile devices.
But then an idea came: if the major smartphone manufacturers will no longer build smartphones with qwerty keyboards, i will make one myself. More exactly modify one.
So i got a samsung galaxy note 4, because it has top specifications, and started to think on how can i add: a phisical keyboard, a regular size usb port, a desktop operating system (even emulated ones, if they are running at usable speeds).

- A hardware qwerty keyboard - I am thinking on making a slide mechanism from two cases and for the keyboard i already ordered this:

That is a bluetooth qwerty keyboard with a mose pad (the mouse pad will be really useful for the operating system). I was thinking on a verus slide case:

However this case is the thickest case i saw, so adding the bluetooth keyboard to that will make the phone very thick. I will have to search for thinner cases.

- The "normal size" usb port - this new smartphones seem to be so thin, that it is almost impossible to fit a regular usb port inside the phone

I also tried to fit a usb port in a samsung galaxy note 3, which is thicker than the note 4. However this seem imposible too

As you can see, unless i cut the anthena of the phone out, there is no room for the usb port.
Now going back to the note 4, the way to get the usb port is by using the verus case, which is almost twice the phone thickness

However i will wait for the bluetooth keyboard to arrive, and then i will see what cases to use, and where to place the usb port.

- Desktop operating system - In this case the note 4 seem to use its processing power quite good, allowing the usage of linux and windows. Here is a video of windows xp emulated using limbo pc emulator (you can search it on google, but you'll need to root your phone):


It is not very usable, but still the fastest emulated windows on an android device.
I also manage to run Linux Debian with xfce interface.

This one does not need root, and the s-pen realy do a nice job by simply hover the pen above the screen, you can move the mouse. 
I did not tweak any of this systems yet, to make the faster, i just installed them and leave everithing as default. I'm sure that with some settings i can get this systems more optimized for the note 4.

I am also thinking at a solar panel on the back (as i did on nokia n900). In this case, it should be easyer becase the note 4 supports inductive chargers, so it does have the power conectors already soldered on the back of the phone.


  1. We just love this! We wrote a great article about this amazing project! What you did is amazing!

    1. Thank you! I saw this article also post on hackady website:
      This really motivate me to do more. I am planning to print a 3d model fo the cases with a special design for the qwerty keyboard and i have new ideas for the slide mechanism.
      This weekend i will post part 3 usage, with the impressions after than a month of usage.

      Best regards,


  2. Hello former Maemo friend :)
    What are you using for Debian xfce?

    1. Hello,

      There is an app called debian noroot in google play, it has some lack of functionality, but for a proof of concept its ok.
      However if you want full linux on android you should look for complete linux installer, and install any distribution you want.

      Best regards,


    2. Yep, I use Linux Deploy for that (after no less than Qole promoted it), but a good functioning Debian for unrooted devices might be useful.