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BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition

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Coming soon
8th February 2015

BQ is a Spanish manufacturer of low-cost Android smartphones, tablets, 3D printers, e-readers and educational robotics kits. BQ's interesting and rather diverse portfolio just got a little bit more diverse with the introduction of the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition.

 BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition

 Ubuntu Phone It's hardly a catchy name, but this particular Aquaris handset is interesting because it will be the first mobile phone to market running Ubuntu. In case you are not familiar with Ubuntu here is a quick overview: it is one of the more popular variants of Linux that has found some success as an alternative operating system on desktops and laptops, particularly for home users. Although this is the first time that Ubuntu has been available on a mobile phone, many other Linux-like (and Unix-like) operating systems on smart devices are available, including Android and iOS.

This is all very well, but of course the desktop version of Ubuntu and the smartphone version of Ubuntu are very different, in the same way that (for example) Windows on a PC runs differently from Windows on a mobile device, even though they share the same underpinnings. But one key advantage that Ubuntu has over some other fledglings in the mobile arena is that is has a very large community based around it, which will probably give the whole project a boost.

 Ubuntu Phone The makers of Ubuntu, Canonical, have tried to create a device that isn't just a "me too" smartphone. Perhaps the key feature with Ubuntu Phone are "Scopes". These are basically cards that information or elements can be pinned to, so Scopes could include weather widgets, multimedia, contact details and a variety of other things. Traditional apps can also be run from these Scopes, and from the looks of it Ubuntu Phone can do pretty much everything that every other smartphone can do.

As for the hardware, the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is an unremarkable but very good value device, with a 4.5" 540 x 960 pixel display, a 1.3GHz quad-core CPU with 1GB of RAM, plus 8GB of onboard storage along with a microSD slot. On the back is an 8 megapixel camera with a 5 megapixel secondary one of the front. The main camera has dual-flash and is capable of 1080p video capture.

Don't expect anything too fancy - there's no LTE support, NFC or wireless charging, but you do get an FM radio, HSPA+ and WiFi support plus GPS. The Aquaris E4.5 is a dual-SIM device and it has a relatively large 2150 mAh battery in a package weighing a pocket-friendly 123 grams.

The price for all of this is a rather pleasing €169.90, including tax. But there's a catch.. and rather a big one, because you can't actually just go and buy this phone (you can buy the Android version) but you will have to participate in a series of "Flash Sales" which will be announced on Twitter on the @Ubuntu and @bqreaders accounts. This might be a bit convoluted, but similar ideas have worked quite well for the OnePlus One and Fairphone, and it does mean that BQ won't end up with a pile of unsold phones if the idea doesn't take off.

At best, we would only expect this device to be a niche success, although we doubt that it will be a disaster either. We are not convinced that the world needs another mobile phone OS, and history is littered with devices and platforms that failed to challenge the big players. But Ubuntu Phone does look quite interesting, and at these prices there is certainly some appeal for people who are looking for something a little bit different.

BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition


Q1 2015


GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900

UMTS (bands not specified)


GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSPA+ + WiFi


4.5" 540 x 960 pixels


8 megapixels (main)

5 megapixels (sub)


Medium smartphone

137 x 67 x 9mm / 123 grams


Yes (4.0)

Internal memory:


Memory card:



1.3GHz quad-core








Ubuntu Phone

Battery life:

Not specified (2150mAh cell)

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