Ubuntu for mobile has been a project that’s faced all sorts of troubles, ultimately leading many to believe that it would never come to fruition. But after several years, the first Ubuntu phone is ready to hit the market. The phone is a result of Canonical’s partnership with Meizu and BQ, and the first Ubuntu phone is actually a recycled BQ Aquaris E4.5 that runs Ubuntu instead of Android.
The Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition has a mediocre specs list that includes a 4.5-inch qHD (960×540) display, 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The phone fits somewhere between the entry-level and mid-range markets with a price of €169.90 ($195).
U.S. customers aren’t going to be able to get their hands on the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition. The device will be exclusively sold in Europe with a sales strategy of flash sales, which has been used to great success by Xiaomi. Ubuntu will announce the first flash sale in the near future.
Ubuntu for mobile was announced to great fanfare, but fell out of popularity after several unfortunate events. These included a lack of funding for the flagship Ubuntu Edge smartphone, failure to garner OEM support and a dropping of the Ubuntu for Android project.Show Press Release
Jane Silber, CEO at Canonical comments; “The launch of the first Ubuntu smartphones is a significant milestone. The new experience we deliver for users, as well as the opportunities for differentiation for manufacturers and operators, are a compelling and much-needed change from what is available today. We’re excited that a rising star like BQ has recognised this opportunity and is helping us make it a reality.”
The Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition’s slim design and 4.5 inch screen are perfect to experience Ubuntu’s edge interactions and Scopes. Scopes are a reinvention of the mobile UI, presenting a new way to rapidly and visually access the most important digital life services – music, social, web, local services, photos etc – directly on the home screen. The richness and unfragmented experience delivered by Ubuntu Scopes are a world away from burying content and services inside multiple apps in an icon grid – reversing the industry’s hackneyed status quo.
“Ubuntu presents users with an entirely different way to engage with their devices – Scopes guide you to content you want – in the same way you think about it – to deliver a smooth, engaging experience,” says Cristian Parrino, VP Mobile at Canonical. “For developers, Scopes are a much simpler and more valuable way to build mobile experiences than apps – significantly changing ecosystem dynamics.”
As any kind of content can be presented via Scopes – they provide developers an easy path for their creations to be integral to the device experience. It is simple to create new Scopes via an easy to use UI toolkit with much lower development and maintenance costs than traditional apps. Canonical and BQ have worked with a host of partners to ensure that there is a wealth of interesting, relevant and dynamic content available at launch, with more content partners to follow.
Alberto Mendez, CEO at BQ comments; “Ubuntu is a totally different concept in mobile operating systems and we are proud of the fact that our customers will get to enjoy it before anyone else in the world. At BQ we support diversity in operating systems because it brings positive benefits for the technology sector and also for the user, who has the freedom to choose.”
The Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is dual SIM and completely unlocked so consumers can use it with their current network. Operators such as 3 Sweden, amena.com in Spain, giffgaff in the UK and Portugal Telecom are offering SIM bundles at purchase for buyers in those regions.
The sleek, 8GB Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition comes in black. It features a five megapixel front camera and eight megapixel rear camera with autofocus and dual flash and full HD (1080p) for super-sharp video. The rear camera is also equipped with high-quality BSI sensors and a Largan lens. It features a MediaTek Quad Core Cortex A7 processor running at up to 1.3 GHz and 1GB RAM for a faster experience.