After a long wait, Ubuntu phones became a reality this year. But now Linux fans outside of Europe and China will be able to try out the newcomer OS for the very first time. Spanish smartphone maker BQ has announced that it is now shipping its Aquarius E5 Ubuntu smartphone across the world.
The E5 Ubuntu Edition has a fairly barebones set of specifications that matches its affordable €199.90 price tag. It has a 5-inch, 720 x 1280 display that'd be more at home on a top-tier smartphone from a few years ago. There's also 1GB of RAM, 16GB of memory (thankfully upgradable thanks to its microSD card slot), and a 1.7GHz, quad-core Mediatek chip.
The E5 will only get 2G in the US
Of course, the phone itself isn't what's exciting — it's about getting to use an Ubuntu phone. Canonical's long-gestating mobile OS sells itself on changing up the typical app-to-app user paradigm. Instead, it uses customizable "scopes" that bring in related content (like photos or videos) to a single homescreen. Instead of building self-contained apps, developers can simply plug in their services to a scope. That said, Ubuntu OS still faces a considerable uphill battle to try to make any gains after Android's massive head start.
There's another thing to keep in mind before you drop over $200 on the E5. It will be largely useless on US carriers. The phone has no LTE, and its HSPA+ antennas essentially do not support the frequencies used by AT&T or T-Mobile. That means you'll be stuck on EDGE, which, in 2015, is close to having no mobile data at all. If you live outside the US, be sure to check to see if your carrier supports 900 and 2100MHz HSPA+ before you buy. Those of you who are stateside, however, will be better served waiting for Meizu to (hopefully) bring its higher-quality MX4 Ubuntu Edition to the states — it will work on AT&T and T-Mobile at 4G speeds.