Canonical, the creator of the Ubuntu operating system, took a long two years to get its first smartphone to market after first detailing its plans in 2013. Its next phone won't take anywhere near that long. Canonical today announced that the second Ubuntu phone — the Aquaris E5 HD Ubuntu Edition — is coming in mid-June, only four months after the Aquaris E4.5 UE saw release. Like its predecessor, the new device is being built by Spanish manufacturer BQ, but Canonical promises the Aquaris E5 HD features some improvements over its older sibling.
Primary amongst these is the larger screen. Where Canonical's first phone had an underwhelming 4.5-inch screen capable of qHD resolution (540 x 960), the Aquaris E5 HD Ubuntu Edition houses a 5-inch IPS HD display, working at a resolution of 720 x 1280. While there's no LTE capability and the newer Aquaris uses the same MediaTek 1.3GHz quad-core chip as before, the phone comes with more built-in storage: 16GB to the E4.5 HD's 8GB. It also boasts two cameras — one 5-megapixel on the front, and one 13-megapixel on the rear — and two SIM slots so users can switch between two different operators.
The phone will only be sold online in the EU
The phone will only be available for purchase in the EU, and only from manufacturer BQ's online store, where it will retail fully unlocked for €199.90 (around $219). At that price, Canonical's functional-looking phone has some stiff competition from great lower-cost smartphones such as the Moto E — especially when the build quality of BQ's Aquaris E4.5 HD was slightly suspect — but the company believes its intuitive gesture-based mobile OS with its tailored "scopes"-based home screens will make it stand out.
Canonical's mobile VP Cristian Parrino said that his company was "taking on Android" at MWC 2015 in March, describing an OS that was so easy to develop for that services can support it without needing to write a line of code. A neat OS and a smartphone range of middling build quality might not be enough to unseat Google's hold on the market, but the company is certainly stepping up its push on the market after two difficult years. Yesterday it was reported that that Chinese firm Meizu would also launch an Ubuntu phone for the European market in mid-June, marking the first time the company has sold devices outside China. The Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition will apparently retail for €299.99 (around $329).