Most-powerful Ubuntu smartphone yet goes on sale from tomorrow

The Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition will be available to buy across Europe for €299 - but only via random invitations to interested buyers.

The Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition. Image: Canonical

The most powerful Ubuntu smartphone yet has launched in Europe but will only be available to a select number of customers.

The €299 Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition will be available from tomorrow, sporting a 5.4-inch display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, quad-core 2.2 GHz Cortex-A17 and quad-core 1.7GHz Cortex-A7 processors, 16GB storage and a 20.7-megapixel rear camera.

The phone's specs are significantly higher than the bq Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition, the first Ubuntu handset that was launched earlier this year. That phone was met with mixed reviews that criticised its "underwhelming" hardware.

In a hands-on with the Meizu phone, ZDNet sister site CNET praised the handset's design saying it "feels comfortable to hold, thanks to its glossy rounded back, which sits snugly in your palm".

Phones will be available to purchase online to people inside the European Union but will be sold on an invite-only basis. Interested buyers must visit a Meizu site that will generate invitations at random times throughout the day.

Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, and its partner, Spanish electronics retailer bq, also limited the availability of the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition when the handset launched earlier this year, selling it via a series of auctions. However, Canonical told CNET that "most people" who visit the Meizu site will be able to get an invite to purchase a phone.

The MX4 Ubuntu Edition launched in China in May, when it was pitched at developers, and has similar specs to the Android-based MX4 Meizu released late last year.

Canonical believes the USP of Ubuntu phones will be the interface's Scopes feature. Scopes are full-screen menus that blur the line between online and local content by grouping together related content of interest to users.

This content can be stored on the phone or could be available via online services. For example, a music Scope would show music on the phone, on the SoundCloud music-sharing service or the GrooveShark music-streaming service and on YouTube, with each section able to expand into an app to play music or explore more tracks.

When the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition launched earlier this year, analysts stressed the difficulty that Ubuntu would have in competing with handsets running Android.

Canonical had hoped that Ubuntu could shake up the mobile market with the Ubuntu Edge, a handset that would serve as a both a desktop computer and a phone, but the idea failed in its bid to win crowd-funding.