First Ubuntu phone goes on sale

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South African-born entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth might have been disappointed that his attempt to raise R371m via crowdsourcing and build a phone powered by the Ubuntu operating system failed 18 months ago, but he’ll be cheerier today. The first Ubuntu-powered phone went on sale in Europe, and it costs just R2232 (170 Euros).

The idea of putting Ubuntu – a Linux-based operating system developed by Shuttleworth’s firm Canonical – into phones and tablets has been around for a long time, but fighting established competition from low cost Android devices has been tough. Especially when Mozilla is also looking to convert operators looking for lower cost phones to Firefox OS.

The Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is a respin of an existing dual sim smartphone from BQ, which is a modestly powered afair. Built around a quad core Mediatek processor running at 1.3GHz, it has 1GB of RAM on board and 8GB storage. I comes with a 4.5inch screen, an 8Mp rear camera and a 5Mp front facing one.

The question will be whether or not the Ubuntu experience on the Aquaris will be good enough that other manufacturers will follow suit in providing alternatives to Android.

We’re looking forward to trying one out soon. In the meantime, here’s the promotional video:

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