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Ubuntu smartphone finally lands, rubbishes apps

Canonical is finally launching its first Ubuntu smartphone, a year and a half after failing to launch a handset on Indiegogo.

The Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu edition is an Ubuntu-powered repurposed version of the Aquaris E4.5, which shipped with Android prior to its new OS makeover.

In terms of hardware, you’re getting much the same device. That is to say, the OS is the only thing that changes about this mid-range handset.

The device uses a 4.5-inch display with a 540 x 960 resolution, a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek Cortex-A7 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of built-in storage.

There’s also an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, with a 5-megapixel shooter handling selfie shots.

What’s different is that you’re getting the Linux-based Ubuntu OS, which runs apps written in either HTML5 or QML.

The main difference about Ubuntu apps, however, is that they’re not so explicitly displayed by the software.

Instead, they’re hidden away in app-grouping ‘Scopes’, which are effectively categorised, swipe-able widget pages that display content.

Examples include the Photos Scope, which groups locally stored images, as well as Flickr, Picasa, and Facebook shots.

A Nearby Scope, meanwhile, will show off location-specific content, which can include nearby restaurants, traffic data, and weather information.

Canonical hopes this will create an ‘unfragmented’ experience, much different than the way Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS operate.

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The company also hopes to freshen up the smartphone game with a quirky ‘flash sale’ retail system.

This will kick off next week, seeing the Ubuntu-fuelled device being sold for short periods of time.

This, Canonical hopes, will give Ubuntu devs plenty of time to respond to user feedback before mass-producing units.

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