Ubuntu’s First Phone Comes to Market

bq's Ubuntu Phone

… For Europe and Asia only.

It’s no Ubuntu Edge, that’s for sure. The specs, as you’ll shortly see, are pretty much what you’d expect for a €170 phone, nothing more. I thought Meizu would be the first OEM to bring an Ubuntu phone to market; according to GizChina their handset will be revealed at this year’s Mobile World Congress. Hopefully it’ll be a little upmarket of what we have here.

If you’re not familiar with the Ubuntu brand, it’s the brainchild of South African billionaire Mark Shuttleworth, a very popular Linux distribution for desktop computers and (to a lesser extent) servers. A touch-friendly version of Ubuntu for phones and tablets has been in the works for quite some time. And as of today, it’s finally shipping on this, the Aquaris E 4.5 Ubuntu Edition.

Like I said, the specs are nothing special:

Screen

4.5” qHD 540 x 960 – 240 ppi (HDPI)
IPS multi-touch screen, 5 capacitive points. Protective Dragontrail display

Processor

CPU: Quad Core Cortex A7 up to 1.3 GHz MediaTek
GPU: Mali 400 up to 500 MHz

Memory

8 GB internal memory
5.5 GB available for end use
1 GB RAM

Battery

LiPo 2150 mAh

Connectivity

Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth® 4.0
2G GSM (850/900/1800/1900)
3G HSPA+ (900/2100)
GPS and A-GPS

Connections

dual micro-SIM
micro-USB OTG slot
3.5 mm TRRS headphone jack (CTIA)
MicroSD slot, up to 32 GB

Camera

Back: 8 – 13 megapixel (interpolated), dual-flash, autofocus
Full HD (1080p) video
Front: 5 – 8 megapixel (interpolated)

Sensors

Brightness and proximity sensors, accelerometer, eCompass, gyroscope

Other system functions

LED notification, Dolby® sound technology, FM radio, microphone, noise canceller

Compatible formats

Text: .txt/.pdf/.xls/.doc/.ppt
Image: .bmp/.gif/.jpeg/.png/.wbmp/.jps/.mpo/.webp
Video: .3gp/.mp4/.flv/.webm/.avi/.mov/.mkv
Audio: .aac/.amr/.awb/.midi/.mp2/.mp3/.ogg /.wav/.ape/.flac/.eac3/.ac3

Box contents

Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition
Micro-USB to USB cable
AC/DC charger
Documentation

For a quick tour of the software experience let’s check in with XDA’s Jordan Keyes, who was apparently invited to some sort of insiders’ event in London:

At this point you might be wondering if this first Ubuntu-powered handset isn’t just some repurposed Android device—and you’d be right. Does this mean you can run Ubuntu on your existing hardware? It sure does. More on that tomorrow; in the meantime, some further reading about Ubuntu’s first phone: