Menu
BQ announces second Ubuntu phone and plans to build PC-smartphone combo

BQ announces second Ubuntu phone and plans to build PC-smartphone combo

The Aquaris E5 HD Ubuntu Edition will cost $220 when it starts shipping in Europe later this month

The Aquaris E5 HD from Spanish smartphone vendor BQ will soon ship with Ubuntu.

The Aquaris E5 HD from Spanish smartphone vendor BQ will soon ship with Ubuntu.

Against the odds, Canonical and Spanish company BQ are continuing to push Ubuntu for smartphones over Android and iOS. BQ's second Ubuntu phone is a step up from its inaugural effort, and the two companies are also working on a smartphone that's also a PC.

Earlier this year, BQ started selling the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition and will later this month start shipping the Aquaris E5 HD in Europe from its online store for €200 (US$220).

The struggles of Samsung's Tizen, Mozilla's Firefox OS and Microsoft's Windows Phone have shown how difficult it's to compete with the dominant smartphone platforms of Apple and Google, but that doesn't seem to scare Canonical and BQ.

Canonical's original plan to differentiate its offering from the competition was to sell devices that would work both as a smartphone and a PC. Working with BQ, the company is now planning to make that a reality. However, they have revealed no hardware details or timetable. They aren't alone in developing this new device type: Microsoft's Continuum for Phones will later this year allow users to connect their Windows 10 phones to a keyboard, mouse and a larger screen.

For now, there are only regular Ubuntu smartphones. To keep costs down, BQ has once again recycled an existing Android smartphone, hence the Aquaris E5 HD Ubuntu Edition product name.

The Aquaris E5 HD is better than the existing E4.5 (which costs €170) in most regards. It has a 5-inch HD screen instead of a 4.5-inch, 540 x 960 pixel screen, and the integrated storage has been increased to 16GB from 8GB. The E5 HD also has a 13-megapixel rear camera, which should be an improvement over the E4.5's 8-megapixel main camera.

Unfortunately, the E5 HD doesn't have LTE and is powered by a modest quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex-A7 processor from MediaTek. The Cortex-A7 should be used to power sub-$100 entry-level smartphones, according to ARM, which designed the processor. That will make difficult for the smartphone to compete with similarly priced Android-based products.

However, the main reason to buy the E5 HD is Canonical's OS.

The Ubuntu smartphone user interface is made up of what Canonical calls scopes, which are home screens that aggregate information related to a topic. They include News, Music, Nearby and Today screens. The latter two list information related to the user's location and personalized information, such as favorite contacts. Even though the scopes are the main building blocks, the OS also has traditional apps, and can run both native and web apps.

The launch of the Aquaris E5 HD Ubuntu Edition is a step in the right direction for Canonical's nascent OS. However, finding room in the shadow of Android and iOS has proved difficult for all that have tried. BQ said it considers the Aquaris E4.5 to be a success, but doesn't say how many it has sold.

Its share of the smartphone market is tiny, though: Market analyst Gartner doesn't count sales of Ubuntu phones separately, but lumps it in with other minority operating systems such as Samsung's Tizen and Mozilla's Firefox OS. Behind Android, iOS, Windows and BlackBerry, the "others" category had a 0.4 percent share of the smartphone market during the first quarter of the year, for combined sales of about 1.3 million phones, according to Gartner.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags consumer electronicsBQcanonicalsmartphones

Featured

Slideshows

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Show Comments