CANONICAL HAS taken the covers off the first phone to be powered by Ubuntu, created in association with Spanish electronics company BQ.
The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition phone will be available across Europe by mail order starting next week.
It boasts a 4.5in screen, Mediatek A7 quad-core processor running at 1.3GHz and 1GB RAM, with 8GB storage. The rear camera is 8MP and the front is 5MP.
The new handset uses a UI called Scopes which consists of subject-based visual home screens, rather than menus, and reflects the web-app basis of the phone, which was first announced this time last year as a "credible alternative" to existing operating systems.
The first batch of handsets will be released to market in a series of flash sales, at a time and date to be confirmed, via Ubuntu and BQ social media platforms priced at €169.90.
No operators have agreed to take on the BQ Aquaris as yet, although several, including Giffgaff in the UK, are offering plans for the device, although it isn't yet clear whether that means anything specific.
What was noticeable about the announcement, which came as part of an international press conference yesterday, was how much was missing from the debut, which Cristian Parrino, VP of mobile at Canonical, described as a product "aimed at early adopters".
The version of Ubuntu included is not the latest, it does not have Snappy, the system that allows easy rollout of app updates in the operating system, and most notably of all, this is not the Universal version of Ubuntu which we were promised over a year ago.
On this Parrino adds: "This is still on our roadmap and the pace at which we are improving amazes me, and even within the next couple of versions you can expect to see some major improvements in this, but that's all I'm going to say right now."
Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth told The INQUIRER last year that Ubuntu would achieve full convergence by 2015. Since then Microsoft has announced its Universal Apps strategy for Windows 10, which should make advocates of Ubuntu's plans very nervous.
Rodrigo del Prado, deputy director general of BQ, said: "It has been a long journey since we first met in 2013, but we feel proud and ready now to show our new baby to the world, and hope that users enjoy the new way of acting with a phone and the new possibilities that Scopes will provide."
But in fact, coupled with the mediocre spec sheet, the whole thing has a feeling of being rushed out rather than thought out.
We're looking to go hands-on with the device in the next week and hope that our fears will be averted, but we're greeting the opening salvo of Ubuntu's long-awaited arrival into an already crowded marketplace with a nervous gulp. µ
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