ESP32 WiPhone

The WiPhone project is an open source mobile IP phone. WiPhone is intended to be hackable, modular, cheap and open, while remaining usable.

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The WiPhone project is an open source mobile phone capable of making free calls through the internet. The phone is intended to be hackable, modular, cheap, and open while remaining usable by everyday people. It makes calls over WiFi only (no cellular radio).


  • Completely free calling, as long as you can set up an account and install a SIP/VoIP app on the devices you need to call.
  • International calls are same as local ones. No restrictions based on borders or calling plans.
  • Don’t need to deal with another country’s SIM cards or radio compatibility when traveling.
  • Keep the same address all over the world.
  • Set up your kid with a phone that lets them contact you without the distractions of a smartphone.
  • Give a pre-configured phone to an elderly relation set up with just the numbers they need.
  • Keep a spare in a bag in case your primary phone gets broken or lost. Don’t need to maintain a service plan for the backup.
  • Avoid being tracked by cell tower triangulation or IMSI catching (Stingray).
  • Load your own firmware to implement different calling protocols or completely different use-cases. The fimware is unlocked and freely modifiable.
  • Commercial phone interchange services are available if you need to call someone on a regular phone. Typical plans cost about $25/year (US or Europe providers).

Planned Features

  • polished enough normal (non-hackers) are happy to use it as an everyday phone
  • open source
  • can call other WiPhones using the internet
  • can call smartphones or computers (using an app installed on the device being called)
  • wireless firmware updates
  • Arduino compatible software
  • Espressif ESP32 processor
  • roughly 120 x 65 x 12mm
  • 320 x 240 (2.4“) LCD screen
  • spare I/O broken out to user-accessable header
WiPhone Rendering
WiPhone Rendering

JPEG Image - 191.43 kB - 10/07/2018 at 09:12


JPEG Image - 94.48 kB - 10/07/2018 at 09:12


JPEG Image - 141.24 kB - 10/07/2018 at 09:12


Graphics Interchange Format - 5.71 MB - 09/21/2018 at 09:13


JPEG Image - 417.28 kB - 09/07/2018 at 09:49


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  • Daughter Boards

    stupid10/08/2018 at 10:10 0 comments

    What's an electronics project without an attempt at modularity? As part of our project goals, we want a phone that can be easily modified and expanded, but still remains something you could actually use every day. How do we balance those requirements?

    For complete details, read the full post on the WiPhone blog:

  • Capacitive Button Panel Testing

    stupid09/21/2018 at 09:38 0 comments

    Original post on the WiPhone blog:

    We wanted to see if it was possible to eliminate the physical buttons on the front of the phone by using a capacitive button panel.

    It has a few advantages:

    • At this point in time, it's what people expect (it looks good)
    • If we do it right, it could be easy to let people swap out a PCB with a different button layout, opening up the ability to adapt the hardware to different purposes.
    • Potentially longer design life, due to no moving parts


    • Somewhat risky. Physical button panel examples are everywhere, but you don't generally see capacitive button panels as dense as we need. There's probably a reason for that, so we expect to have issues with crosstalk/inadvertent triggering of neighboring buttons.

    We made a test panel, shown above, that has buttons of approximately the size and pitch we need for the phone. Overall, the test panel works OK. It is, in fact, easy to accidentally trigger neighboring buttons. But it was interesting enough we'll go ahead and make another panel using our current button layout and see how it performs in the phone.

  • Prototype 2 Assembly Video

    stupid09/18/2018 at 12:56 0 comments

    We wanted to post an assembly video showing how the mechanical parts of the phone go together. It's already a pretty simple process, and should get even easier once we have a single-piece keypad.

    At this stage it's still more of a prototye model than a production unit. The main purpose of this version is to give us something to actually use. Real world use is important for finding all the little issues that show up once a design moves from pictures on a screen to reality. Once we have a list of those we will evaluate what's possible to fix, and incorporate the improvements into the next version.

    We've been playing around with the phone for a few weeks, mostly debugging electronics and software. Once we get the bug situation under control we will start carrying the phones around and collecting improvement opportunities for UI, software, electronics, and hardware.

  • All Components Are Here

    stupid09/07/2018 at 09:26 0 comments

    We have all the components on hand now.

    WiPhone Components
    WiPhone Components

    Parts List:

    Back Panel - FR4, cut to the correct profile
    Motherboard - 4 layers, hand assembled
    Frame - Aluminum, CNC cut and clear anodized
    Front Panel - 2mm thick polycarbonate, CNC cut
    Screws - M2x4, 4x
    ON/OFF Button - Silicone, artisinal hand carved (OK, actually hand-snipped with a pair if dikes)
    Antenna - Whip antenna, we may change to chip or trace antenna after we do some signal strength optimization
    Keypad - Hard plastic, CNC cut. Eventually this will likely be a single cast silicone part.
    Battery - LiPo pouch.

    As the perceptive among you may have noticed, the parts have been assembled and our project pic updated. Later we will post more info, but for now we can say that everything fits with only minor issues. And the overall build looks and feels great, especially given how few revisions there have been.

    Shell, Partially Assembled

  • GUI Screenshots

    stupid08/18/2018 at 01:16 3 comments

    Some shots of the current state of the user interface. Implemented so far:

    • make a call
    • receive a call
    • address book
    • wifi scanning
    • wifi credentials management
    • SIP account management
    • boot screen

  • Populated Motherboard

    stupid08/17/2018 at 01:30 0 comments

    Now with wires and little square things all over it:

    Populated WiPhone Motherboard
    Populated WiPhone Motherboard

  • LCD Graphics Driver Benchmarking and the Facts of Life

    stupid08/16/2018 at 00:42 1 comment

    We recognize a few universal truths: Biological life… errr… finds a way. Every software program expands until it can check email, or dies trying. All online discussions of sufficient length end in references to Nazis and utter disdain for opposing viewpoints. And all screen-bearing hardware evolves to kill bad guys at the maximum screen rate possible. So, bowing to the evolutionary pressures that are the natural order of things, we’ve started benchmarking and optimizing our graphics performance. Also, we were really tired of debugging hardware and wanted a fun break for a bit.


    Originally we were thinking to put a much smaller TFT display in the WiPhone. Something like 1.4" or 1.8" display. These screens are usually driven by an ST7735 driver over SPI.

    Small Screens
    Small Screens

    Trouble is, nobody likes phones with tiny screens like that. They’re ugly. And killing bad guys on a tiny screen is unsatisfying. Luckily, we quickly abandoned the smaller screens and switched to a 2.4 inch screen with 320×240 pixels. But the ESP32 isn’t blessed with an abundance of extra I/O, so we are stuck with the lower bandwidth SPI bus now needing to push roughly 4x the original data out to the screen.

    As you can see in our first demo video, the graphics library that came as example code with our screen was struggling to refresh even a basic phone interface. Each widget is noticeably re-drawn.

    Most phones with a screen this size use a parallel 8-bit bus (a.k.a. “8080 series MCU interface”). But given the limited pins on the ESP32 and all the other things a phone needs to do, something needed to give.


    Luckily, we found a beautiful and fast library called TFT_eSPI by Github user Bodmer, which is optimized for ESP32 chips. Our ST7789 driver IC was not yet supported, but an initialization routine and a pull request later we were pleasantly surprised by a 3-12x speedup!

    Here we run Xark’s benchmark with our bigger screen using TFT_eSPI library, as well as the original library we developed:

    NVIDIA, eat your heart out.

  • SN7326 Keypad

    stupid08/15/2018 at 12:52 0 comments

    This is a simple keypad to test the SN7326 I2C keypad controller in the 25 button configuration we wanted for the WiPhone. Posting in the hopes it might be useful to someone else.

    Hosted on Gitlab: SN7326 25 Button Breakout

    Overview (from the SN7326 datasheet)

    The SN7326 is a 64 key, key-scan controller. It offloads the burden of keyboard scanning from the host processor.
    The SN7326 supports keypad matrix of up to 8×8. Key press and release events are encoded into a byte format and loaded into a key event register for retrieval by the host processor. The SN7326 integrates a debounce function which rejects false or transient key switch activities.
    The interrupt output (INT) is used to signify if there are any keypad activities. To minimize power, the SN7326 automatically enters a low power standby mode when there is no keypad, I/O, or host activity.


    • 2.4V to 5.5V operation
    • I2C interface
    • multi-key press detection
    • 0.3μA (typ.) standby current
    • 4x4mm QFN-24 package

    The design is in PADS. Everything is there to fabricate it yourself. BOM, gerbers, PDF schematic + PADS schematic and layout.

    Pin 1: GND
    Pin 2: VDD
    Pin 3: SDA
    Pin 4: SCL
    Pin 5: LED/RST
    Pin 6: INT

    25 Button SN7326 Keypad
    25 Button SN7326 Keypad

  • Motherboard Arrived!

    stupid08/14/2018 at 11:44 0 comments

    The alpha motherboard arrived. Here’s some quick shots of the front/back + one with the LCD mounted just for fun:

    WiPhone Motherboard
    WiPhone Motherboard

  • Phone Teardowns + Keyboard Survey

    stupid08/12/2018 at 15:31 0 comments

    We have a bunch of cheap phones we’ve been tearing apart, and wanted to post a some pics. Particularly, we’ve been looking to see how they make the buttons and keypads.

    Teardown Pics

    This one is a fake Nokia. Of all the cheap phones we’ve torn apart, the layout of this one seems the most sensible. The keypad feels nice (relatively). The PCB has ample room for components. There aren’t any odd internal bridge pieces or discontinuities in the PCB. The overall size is appropriate. If we are going to try to make a cheap, usable phone, this one seems worth learning from.

    This is one of those tiny ultra-cheap phones that Westerners tend to call “Gongkai” phones after the article Bunnie Huang wrote.

    In both cases, the keypad is made using a PCB with exposed traces used as the contacts. Metal domes are used for the buttons themselves, and everything is kept in alignment with an adhesive-backed sheet.

    Overview of Keypad Designs and Components

    Tactile Switches

    Common Tactile Switch With Frame and Plastic Button
    Simple Tactile Switch
    Tactile switches are typically small momentary-on switches. In keypad applications they are usually sealed, surface mount, and low profile. Some versions have a small frame and plastic button, while others are basically just a metal dome adhered to a set of contacts.

    If you are designing a high volume product with a keypad, tactile switches actually aren’t that common due to the extra cost relative to the next few options. But for lower volumes they are often used since they are durable, come in known actuation forces and heights, and easy to work with.

    Separated Switches

    Most higher volume applications use a separate system where the circuit traces are directly bridged by a contact. Often the contact is more or less integrated into mechanical keypad. All of the phones we’ve torn apart use this style of switch.


    Printed Contacts

    Printed contacts are cheap and have a short design life. One example of printed contacts would be a silicone keypad that is silkscreened on one side with conductive ink. The ink is usually located on bumps on the underside of the keypad that align with the contacts on the circuit. If you’ve ever had a remote control with buttons that stopped working well, it probably used printed contacts.
    Rubber Keypad with Conductive Printing

    Carbon Pills

    Carbon pills are typically made by insert molding them into a silicone compression mold. They have a long design life and are often found in things with a squishy keypad like home phones.
    Keypad with Carbon Pill Contacts
    Carbon Pill

    Dome Contacts

    Dome contacts are a simple metal dome that gets positioned over the circuit to be bridged. They are often mounted on a sheet that holds them in position. Dome contacts are often used in cell phone keypads due to their compact size, long design life, and snap feel.
    Dome Contact

    Substrate Materials

    Substrates can be copper traces on a PCB as seen in the image above, or screen printed carbon on a plastic film.

    Capacitive Switches

    Capacitive keypads have been showing up more often in designs, and operate in a fundamentally different way than a normal conduction based switch. Actuation life for these is theoretically infinite, but they need a relatively large spacing to avoid triggering neighbor buttons and they give no force feedback. Typical applications for these are things like building access panels.
    Capacitive PCB Keypad

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Enjoy this project?



beastmodestudios4123 wrote 10/02/2018 at 13:47 point

You could add a audio jack on the phone

  Are you sure? yes | no

Andriy Makukha wrote 10/06/2018 at 03:14 point

Great news! WiPhone already has it. You can see it on the prototype assembly video starting at 2:03.

  Are you sure? yes | no

fabian wrote 09/18/2018 at 16:02 point

One idea for design. please add small hole for phone rope. for  example

second idea to add big arc over top screen for this

arc from left corner top to right corner can be stored antena, what You thing about this idea?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Christian Berger wrote 09/16/2018 at 12:26 point

I'd add a simple 40x25 character terminal, for example according to the old "Videotex" standards which were used for Bildschirmtext, Prestel or Minitel. That should be simple enough to implement (in fact the simplest version only needs to understand one "command") while enabling a world of applications.

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fabian wrote 09/18/2018 at 16:05 point

USB host  for normal keyboard, router , computer will be better. And normal ssh+terminal I dont know how good it is

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stupid wrote 09/18/2018 at 16:54 point

SSH (or even telnet) could be pretty useful. Are there any existing libraries for an SSH client on ESP32? I'm not seeing any in a quick search.

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fabian wrote 09/15/2018 at 18:16 point

please add mesh and lora communication 

(text,small image,gpg)

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Christian Berger wrote 09/16/2018 at 16:34 point

Lora doesn't have the bandwidth for speech.

  Are you sure? yes | no

stupid wrote 09/18/2018 at 13:21 point

But it does have the bandwidth for text messages, which is probably what Fabian is interested in.

(For what it's worth, I'd imagine LoRa also has the bandwidth to send Videotex  or whatever other pre-historic text encoded graphic formats get you off)

In any case, we have it on good authority that IP over Avian Carrier is the hottest upcoming protocol and as soon as we get our core functionality working, mesh, LoRa, and Videotex may all need to wait for the IPoAC implementation to go online before we have time to address them.

  Are you sure? yes | no

fabian wrote 09/18/2018 at 15:43 point

look at or but open source and open protocol (for example AX25). Great communicator for emergency and for small data.

here is project

on aliexpres or gearbest is many esp32+Lora, obly put it together

  Are you sure? yes | no

James Hall wrote 09/21/2018 at 15:15 point

I wonder if there are modes where Codec2 speech would fit. There's a version of that which works in 700bps. Doing something like a gotenna would be great too. Simple text messages, including sending things like GPS coordinates, over distance would be handy sometimes. There are some TTGO branded dev boards that combine a ESP32 with a LORA chip and stuff for a 18650 lithium battery that might work just as well for that though.

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utf_8x wrote 09/10/2018 at 08:52 point

Is there enough spare GPIO available to hook up a GSM modem (such as this

  Are you sure? yes | no

stupid wrote 09/10/2018 at 15:11 point

Maybe, depending on your use case.

We are shooting for 10+ pins broke out to the back of the phone. But if you want to do voice calls you may run into issues getting the audio signals where they need to go since a lot of those cell modules expect to directly control the speaker and mic.

I'll post a pinout once we have the next revision ready.

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utf_8x wrote 09/11/2018 at 16:22 point

I hear you... Maybe some sort of a soft/hard switch for the mic and speaker... It would also be cool co connect a Iridium compatible module to this to be able to send text messages from anywhere in the world... 10 GPIOs sounds like a reasonable number for something like that.

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James Hall wrote 09/06/2018 at 14:21 point

The new picture of the project is extremely attractive. How are you doing the buttons? Are those 3D printed?

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stupid wrote 09/06/2018 at 14:37 point

Thanks! I did the mechanical design and model making.

Buttons are CNC + a really light coat of spray paint.

We have a pretty cool video we just put together of the assembly process that's about to go out to the mailing list if mailchimp ever finally decides we aren't Nigerian princes.

Looks like you're already on the email list, but if anyone else wants to see the video (and other early-access stuff) feel free to join. The form is at the top of the project details.

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Neo wrote 08/26/2018 at 19:50 point

Neat project, the hardware is looking really nice. I'm curious about the actual VoIP part: how does it work, what protocols are used, what kind of server does it require? Is it based on some libraries or existing code, or is it an all new implementation?

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stupid wrote 08/28/2018 at 01:06 point

SIP is the protocol used for VoIP. There are a bunch of commercial services that can act as a server, including some free-to-use ones if you don't need a phone number.

It should be possible to run Asterisk if you want to run your own server. We haven't done this yet so I don't have details.

We are not currently using an existing SIP library.

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otstoypuksa wrote 08/26/2018 at 07:05 point

SN7326 seems to be missing from my common chip suppliers. Where should I look for it? Are here any more readily-available alternatives? Thanks! 

  Are you sure? yes | no

stupid wrote 08/26/2018 at 15:44 point

I believe you can get them on Aliexpress.
As to readily available alternatives, it's hard to say without knowing what you are trying to do. I don't know of any drop in replacements if that's what you're asking.

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Ramon Schepers wrote 08/24/2018 at 23:30 point

Love the design alot, but have you thought of using a tft with capacitive touch instead of tact buttons? And what is the idle power consumption like in milliamps? I see you plan to include bare bone games too, are thise inline compiled, or sideloaded over wifi?

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stupid wrote 08/25/2018 at 00:44 point

We've played around with a few capacitive touch concepts and something other than physical buttons may still make it into the final version, but buttons won out so far because they are cheap and we felt that interacting with physical buttons would be easier for beginners to deal with. Like, if you want to adapt the hardware to something else it's simple to do so.  We do have a capacitive button panel in prototyping (not a touch screen, but actual capacitive buttons instead of tactile ones). I'm not sure if we can make it work with the tiny button sizes we need, but it would result in a nice flat screen if we can.

Power consumption: Haven't gotten to that yet. We are still debugging the hardware on the first integrated phone and after that is done we should know. It will likely be driven by what's achievable in the ESP32. From reading around, it has the capability to enter a low power mode where it periodically wakes to check in with the access point, so I'm hoping we'll be able to have our cake and eat it too.

Games: We will likely do something, but who know what, yet. Andriy keeps putting games on the menu screens, I think because he wants to implement them instead of all this boring debugging and system bring-up :). But for now we are spending our time getting the basic functionality up and working.

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prosto wrote 08/24/2018 at 15:45 point

look at gotenna , You project + lora = sucess

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nate.damen wrote 08/21/2018 at 22:52 point

This is awesome! I'll definitely be digging in deep into this 

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Arsenijs wrote 08/16/2018 at 09:57 point

Hello from one open-source phone to another =)

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stupid wrote 08/16/2018 at 14:43 point

We should schedule a call to congratulate each other directly on such great projects :).

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fabian wrote 09/18/2018 at 15:57 point

interesting, imagine ssh + terminal and usb C host for normal keyboard.

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