Canonical’s Ubuntu Touch smartphone OS has now been in the works for quite some time. Announced early in 2013, the OS was demoed and eventually released for testing on a number of Nexus devices. Still, though Canonical continually said that there would eventually be hardware designed for and released with Ubuntu Touch, through 2013 that remained an empty promise.
This year, that will change. Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu founder, recently confirmed that two Ubuntu Touch/Ubuntu Phone handsets will be released sometime in 2014. The handsets will be developed by the Chinese company Meizu, makers of MIUI and some decent Android hardware in the past, and a relatively unknown Spanish manufacturer Bq Readers.
Of course, this means that, at least at first, the handsets won’t be released or marketed in the US, and instead the Meizu handset will likely launch in China, and the Bq somewhere in Europe. US users will have to wait for an official release in the states, but Shuttleworth did say that Ubuntu Touch will eventually ship in a wider range of countries and be offered by big-name carriers sometime in 2015.
Even so, it is certainly worth taking a look at what we know about the first pieces of Ubuntu-specific hardware. The Meizu handset is currently the more mysterious of the two, as it can only be speculated that the device will be similar to the 5.2-inch Meizu MX3.
For the Bq, a little more has been revealed at Mobile World Congress. The device on display there is pictured above, and was equipped with a 4.5-inch display and MediaTek A7 quad-core processor. Assuming the device in question is based on the very similar Bq Aquarius 5, we can also guess that it will include 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and a PowerVR SGX544 GPU at a minimum.
Apparently, the price of the device is still in question, as it was reportedly said to be between $200-$300, but it isn’t known whether that is a subsidized or unsubsidized price. This, however, likely won’t matter very much to American consumers, since as we mentioned this specific hardware is unlikely to come to the US. Still, the final price of the first Ubuntu Phone will likely reveal whether Canonical and Bq are targeting the budget market, which would have quite an impact on both the exact hardware offered and the marketing strategy.
Normally, talking about Ubuntu Touch concerns just software, so it is great to finally see that Canonical is getting serious about putting native Ubuntu Touch hardware on the market. Additionally, though we may not hear about it often, Ubuntu Touch has been steadily improving, with everything from better HTML5 app support to new and useful apps. It’s not likely that the first round of Ubuntu Touch hardware will be very successful, but this ongoing venture by the biggest Linux distribution around is certainly something interesting to watch develop.[OMG Ubuntu: 1, 2]