Spanish device maker BQ started selling the smartphone running Ubuntu software earlier this year. But at the time it was only available in limited numbers through brief “flash sales.”

Now anyone can buy a BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition smartphone. Well, anyone in the European Union.

The phone is available from BQ for € 169.90, or about $180.


Not surprisingly for a phone at that price, the Aquaris E4.5 isn’t exactly a premium device. It has a 4.5 inch, 960 x 540 pixel display, a Mediatek MT6582 quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage.

The phone has a 2150 mAh battery, an 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, a microSD card slot, and supports 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and 3G HSPA+ networks.

But the phone’s key selling point isn’t its hardware. This is the first (somewhat) widely available phone to run Canonical’s Ubuntu operating system which has been optimized for phones and tablets.

Early reviews have been somewhat mixed. Fans of Ubuntu seem to like it, while others figure it’s an interesting platform that it’s “not yet ready for prime time.”

Still, it’s one of your best bets for trying out Canonical’s mobile-friendly version of Ubuntu without installing it yourself on a Nexus phone or other device. Highlights include Ubuntu’s use buttons that slide out from the edge of the display rather than hardware buttons, and the use of “Scopes” for presenting content from multiple sources in one page. But despite the support for web apps, the selection of apps for Ubuntu is still pretty small compared with that for Android or iOS.


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10 replies on “BQ’s Ubuntu phone is now available for anyone to buy (in the European Union)”

  1. The day I can carry a phone around, and plug it into a docking station and use it as a desktop is the day I’ll be a happy man

  2. “Early reviews have been somewhat mixed. Fans of Ubuntu seem to like it, while others figure it’s an interesting platform that it’s “not yet ready for prime time.”

    Same as what’s been printed for the last two–at least–years now.
    Really makes you journalist type’s jobs easy, doesn’t it.

    As one highly-respected journal put it in its end-of-year recommendations of new phones for purchase in 2015,–as an afterthought–it went something like this: “…oh, and by the way, concerning the Ubuntuphone: don’t even consider it. It’s a mirage. It’s always been going to happen “real soon now.”

    “Fans of Ubuntu”: cool it. Just keep on waiting. You obviously have NOTHING to do.

  3. Hoping to see the ability to run desktop applications on the mobile screen (with and without small screen optimization) in addition to the desktop docking feature at some point.

  4. I am not sure how any new phone OS is going to get any traction. Even established players like Blackberry and Microsoft haven’t figured out how to solve the “app gap”. Web apps aren’t there yet (and might never be) and having the ability to run (some) Android apps hasn’t seemed to help Blackberry much.

    1. Well, let me take a shot at answering this. The answer must be ‘differentiated product’. The OS must offer something -else- not the same experience repackaged. Blackberry differentiates by providing a secure platform and a fantastic enterprise class MDM solution, but clearly, in terms of total marketshare that isn’t going to ever get them to a place where they will outgun the consumer OS vendors of today.

      Microsoft’s strategy appears to be convergence while leveraging its existing installed user base of desktop OS users and doing it in a way (interface-wise) no one else is.

      FirefoxOS is operating around a low cost and web app-only identity-tracking-free model, which is different from pretty much everyone else…. Even blackberry has you create a identity to use its products, only FirefoxOS doesn’t require it because it is webapp focused.

      What Ubuntu Touch used to be able to claim unique to its platform was convergence – which has since been taken on by MSFT. Microsoft still hasn’t gotten everything settled yet, so there’s room to maneuver. Also, I’m still unclear as to how or when the phone-as-desktop will appear with Windows or Ubuntu so I guess there’s room there too. Finally, Ubuntu may have access to its existing desktop OS user base that may help it in a way something like Blackberry for example has no access to.

      Blackberry gave up on the phone as mobile office idea promoted by Thorsten Heins while he was CEO presumably because crafting desktop class ‘apps’ for QNX was too resource intensive, but obviously all that heavy lifting has been done already on Windows and Linux, which really gives those two platforms forward momentum in this area that the dominant mobile OS platforms don’t have. Also, Blackberry has since transitioned to the “Blend” product and model which works but isn’t the only way things could be done.

      Bear in mind I actively use 2 Blackberry devices (os7 and QNX), a Windowsphone, Android tablet and phone, and a FirefoxOS device. I don’t use any Apple products, and I use Linux desktop very seldomly.

      1. phone as a desktop probably works a lot like laptop or tablet as a desktop, with some added functionality like a desktop dialer app. I’ve recently ended up with a dell venue 11 pro (i3) and the docks for it, it’s actually a pretty good experience. Amusingly the worst aspect is tablet mode imo 😛

      2. >Also, I’m still unclear as to how or when the phone-as-desktop will
        appear with Windows or Ubuntu so I guess there’s room there too.

        for ubuntu is planned from 6 months to a year, there are already some demonstrations of the advancements on youtube.. like this one:

        msft getting on board (even considering an open source future), helps to validate what companies like canonical are doing and also promote the idea to manufacturers so this can take off sooner and evolve.

    2. From good experiences with the same OS on desktops/laptops – and from bad experiences with other OSs. For most users, the app gap is not so important, since they use very few apps anyways. Its usually more ‘image’ and look-and-feel in general, and the price.

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