Canonical is set to launch its third Ubuntu powered smartphone in Europe tomorrow, in a bid to better compete with the larger Android operating system. However, this time the company will be selling the phone through an invite-only business model.
The latest Ubuntu smartphone is based on the Meizu MX4 and will retail with a €299 ($345) price tag. The MX4 “Ubuntu Edition” has been available to developers in China since May, but will be available in Europe too, starting from tomorrow. Meizu and Canonical announced a strategy partnership last year and had been showing off a small number of prototypes since 2014.
The modified MX4 is pretty much what you would expect from a competitively priced Chinese manufacturer. The handset features a 5.4-inch display with 1920 x 1152 resolution, 2.2GHz octa-core MT6595 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 20.7MP rear camera, a 2MP front camera and a decent sized 3,100mAh battery. Unfortunately, this model only comes with a limited 16GB of internal storage and no microSD card slot.
The first Ubuntu powered smartphone, the Aquarsis E4.5, went on sale in Europe back in February with a price tag of €170. The low-end handset was already a little dated and overpriced when it launched, but the MX4 is a more fleshed out mid-range handset which may appeal to a wider range of customers.
The first wave of Ubuntu phones don’t appear to have been a huge success, having sold units in the “many thousands”. So this time availability and stock control is going to be tightly monitored with an invitation based system, which we’ve seen before with OnePlus. To be in with a chance to grab an invite you will have to check the Meziu English website and complete the interactive “origami wall” puzzle (when it goes live), which reveals details about the phone and an invite for users to claim.
We will have to wait and see how long the invite system stays in place, although Canonical’s VP of mobile Cristian Parrino stated that most people who visit the site should be able to get their hands on an invite. We’re also waiting on news about whether phone will go on sale in other regions in the coming months.