The first ever smartphone to be powered by the Linux based operating system Ubuntu is coming to retail stores in the EU beginning today, its makers BQ have announced.
The handset itself is called the Aquaris E4.5, it currently can only be purchased by being lucky enough to be in the right place when one of the “flash sales” pops ups. The E4.5 will retail for €169.90, or £126.54.
The Ubuntu phone will be sold without contract which is good news for those of us who may be worried about the inevitable price hike caused by the merger or two of the UK’s biggest phone carriers.
Ubuntu has been developed by UK Company Canonical, and has been growing in popularity for a number of years. The handsets themselves are produced in Spain by a company called BQ. BQ themselves are standing more and more in the spotlight by their production and sale of 3D-printers. As we’ve mentioned before, 3D printers are expanding on capability and popularity.
This is not the first time Ubuntu handset has been available. An online crowdfund attempt fell short of monetary goals and was pulled from production. While some may argue that was enough of a clue that a Linux based phone is only going to satisfy a very niche market.
Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical had this to say about the new launch:
“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,”
The new Aquaris has a range of unusual and innovative features – including “Scopes”. Which are like individual home screens for various types of content without having to go through the individual apps. According to their website, it allows users to “relate content on one screen, instead of hiding it behind different apps. So everything you look for in life is now right at your fingertips”.
Bold, but the Ubuntu phone will need to be if it’s to claw some of the market share currently dominated my giants Apple and Samsung. But the little open source handset may yet turn out to be a giant slayer…
The BQ smartphone will also come with Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Evernote and Amazon apps all available from launch.
For those of us who like the specifications behind a phone – the new BQ Aquaris has:
4.5 inch display in 540×960 resolution
5 Megapixel camera (front) 8 Megapixel camera (back)
8GB internal storage
So it’s nothing special in terms of hardware. Most of the latest smart-phones sport much higher specs, of course they also sport a much higher price tag.
So the only thing this phone has going for it is the new Ubuntu OS. Which does look rather fantastic. Will it only satisfy a niche market? Or will it open up a wave of open source enthusiasm that will spread to the PC counterpart.
Time will tell.