Canonical launches Ubuntu Edge phone, seeks R324m to build it

After much speculation, an unfortunate leak and plenty of pre-launch news about who’s involved with the project, Canonical has formally announced the Ubuntu Edge, a multi-core core with a massive 128GB on-board storage that dual boots Android and Ubuntu Touch.

Ubuntu Touch is the next revision of the popular Linux distribution Ubuntu, which can switch between a mode optimised for small touchscreens and the more traditional desktop mode when it’s plugged into an external monitor. Essentially, the Ubuntu Edge is the phone that does it all. A powerful handset with access to Android apps, Ubuntu services and desktop programs that comes with a massive amount of disc space for a phone and a 720p 4.5inch screen. It has two LTE antennae for use with most 4G systems around the world and a new type of battery technology which Canonical reckons will extend the lifespan far beyond current phones.

And what’s more, it looks beautiful at just 9mm thick with an aluminium body and the toughest screen coating in the world – sapphire glass. Canonical has guaranteed monthly updates to the Ubuntu half of the operating system and from what we’ve seen so far, the core apps for Ubuntu Touch as at least as capable as anything Android has baked in, possibly better.

In the wake of recent privacy concerns and revelations about government spying programs, a more open handset operating system could be just what we’re after. Essentially, Canonical is aiming to put a fully functioning laptop in your pocket: it’s the ultimate convergence device.

There’s just one problem. The Ubuntu Edge, as glorious as it is, doesn’t actually exist yet. The firm, which was founded and is run by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, is looking to raise $33 million (R324) via the crowdfunding website indie-go-go to put it into production. It has a deadline of 30 days to raise the money, and while it’s raised a tenth of that amount in less than 24 hours the cost for early backers has already risen from $600 to $830 (R5884 to R8140) as the first adopter packages sold out overnight. That’s a hard sell, in all honesty, and a lot to ask for a phone that no-one’s actually seen yet.

According to the Indiegogo page, if Canonical fails to make its target, the Edge won’t go into production and the company will focus on porting the OS to existing handsets. There’s no word on whether or not the Edge will be available on contract via operators like MTN, which is on Canonical’s steering committee for Ubuntu Touch, yet.

Launch video below.


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