After a lot of hopes, dreams, and rumors about a smartphone running the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system, Canonical has just handed over a number of Ubuntu phones to select insiders at a special event.

The company also announced that next week, the long-awaited device will go on sale, exclusively in Europe, through a series of “flash” sales online. Then, that will be it for a while.

Ubuntu Phone BQ1

Canonical has intentionally limited the availability of the first Ubuntu phone, which is a version of the Aquaris E4.5 from Spanish manufacturer BQ. The company’s vice president of mobile and online sales Cristian Parrino told The Register, “We learned quite a bit from China where unknown brands have become a success in crowded markets by focusing on early adopters… instead of shooting for volume and retail shelves from day one.”

BQ’s Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition has 8GB of storage and features a 4.5-inch screen. The front-facing camera sports five megapixels and the rear camera has eight. The rear camera supports 1080p HD video recording and features BSI sensors a Largan lens. The device is packed with a MediaTek Quad Core Cortex A7 processor, which runs at up to 1.3 GHz and 1GB of RAM.

Ubuntu Phone BQ2

Canonical claims that the Ubuntu operating system is significantly different than what most users experience with Android or iOS. Instead of the typical grid layout that we have come to expect, Ubuntu uses something called “Scopes.”

“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,” Parrino said in a press release. “For developers, Scopes are a much simpler and more valuable way to build mobile experiences than apps – significantly changing ecosystem dynamics.”

The first ever Ubuntu phone costs €170 (about $193) and will only be available in Europe for now. The date, time, and URL for the first flash sale will be announced through Ubuntu and BQ’s Twitter feed, as well as Ubuntu’s Google+ and Facebook page.

If this version of the Ubuntu leaves you feeling a bit “meh,” you can always wait around for Meizu’s Ubuntu phone, which Parrino claims will launch this coming March.

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15 replies on “The first ever Ubuntu phone is launching next week in very limited supply”

  1. I think the Ubuntu phone is a boondoggle. Apple and Android have the market all wrapped up. They should stick to software only. An OS for a unlocked or rooted phone is fine but I can buy an already existing Android phone with more bells ans whistles for less that the $195 price they are asking.

  2. Jeesh it is about time. I was beginning to think that the Ubuntu Phone was going to be vaporware. Of course it will probably be a year before I can get on in the US. I gave up on ever getting a Jolla Sailfish OS phone. Time will tell.

  3. yeah! first Tizen, now Ubuntu, crapple gayphones and android arent the only game in town anymore.

  4. I hope an Ubuntu Phone officially makes it’s way into the US sometime.

  5. And now we’ll see whether hardcore Linux fans will put their money where their mouth is. (Not that I’m against the concept of the phone, I just have a hard time believing there is a viable market for it.)

    1. I thought hardcore Linux fans don’t like Ubuntu and Canonical but use Arch, Gentoo, Fedora, Debian, etc.

      1. Richard Stalman (although he only used Linu… whoops… um, I mean GNU/Linux, begrudgingly so that he had a kernel to use until Hurd is finished in Q3 2053) uses an abacus running BeadOS 0.7.2 because it’s the most advanced device that he could find where the the hardware is free and open enough that everyone can make one. /s

  6. I want ubuntu phone – but I want higher spec device (and also i’m in US – so CDMA is a must).

    1. In the US, CDMA is only a must if you’re on Verizon. I’m on Verizon though, so I’m also hoping for a CDMA plus LTE Ubuntu phone.

      1. or sprint. or all of the Verizon| Sprint MVNO like immensely popular Page Plus or straighttalk or even tracfone.
        P.S. I use pageplus cellular – 29.99 a month prepaid – no surprises.

          1. In the end, it’s just Verizon when it comes to CDMA. Sprint is a lost cause and the rest are just Verizon resellers.

  7. I’m not really sure I understand Scopes, because looking at the Ubuntu home page, it just sounds like they made a category-based home screen for you… that’s nothing new and I would rather create my own categories.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of Ubuntu phones, I’ve been using Xubuntu about 90% of my daily desktop/laptop computing. It’s just descriptions are super vague.

    1. I think the idea is just how you read it. Scopes will be categorized pages on your home screen that you swipe through to find what you want. I don’t know if you’ll be able to create your own categories. We will see as more people talk about what it can do. I’d love to see video footage of the setup.

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