Back in 2013, Jono Bacon, then Canonical's Ubuntu Linux community manager, told me the company's goal was to create smartphones that would "be more beautiful than Apple and as powerful as Android but with the open-source legacy of Ubuntu." In 2016, Canonical, along with Chinese smartphone manufacturer Meizu, may have done it with the Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition smartphone.
The Mezu PRO 5 will be the fifth Ubuntu smartphone launched in the last twelve months. Canonical claims, with reason, that it will be "the most sophisticated and feature-rich Ubuntu phone in the market." It will be available for pre-order during Mobile World Congress (MWC) on Meizu's website. There's been no price released for the device, but sources close to Canonical say that it will list for approximately $450.
For that you'll get a smartphone powered by the Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa-core chipset. This consists of a quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 and quad-core 2.1.0 GHz Cortex-A57.
The new high-end Ubuntu smartphone will also sport a highly durable 5.7-inch 1920x1080 screen made with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The 5.7-inch active-matrix organic light-emitting diode, (AMOLED) display screen boasts 1080x1920 pixels (~386 ppi pixel density).
The phone also comes with 32 or 64 GBs of low-power, double-data-rate, random access memory (LPDDR4) storage. This new, faster storage delivers about twice the data access speed while using less power than the data store in the last generation of mobile devices. If you need still more data storage, you can add up to 128 GBs with a microSD card.
The Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition supports LTE for 4G data. For your other data networking needs it also supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, WiFi Direct, and Bluetooth 4.1.
As for the operating system, this phone will be running the newest version of mobile Ubuntu: Ubuntu Touch OTA-9. Unlike other mobile operating systems, Ubuntu uses scopes to access your most frequently used digital services such as music, social networking, web browsing or sharing photos and video directly from the home screen. While this takes some getting used to if what you know best is Android and iOS's icon-based approach, I've found it easy to pick up.
In recent updates, the scope experience has seen further enhancement. Favorite scopes like Twitter, SoundCloud and YouTube now feature personalized information and with more interactive features users can "like" or "favorite" items, read and post comments, directly from these updated scopes.
Ubuntu Phones now come with a larger third-party app ecosystem around favorites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Spotify.
Of course, Ubuntu isn't interested in just duplicating the usual array of popular smartphone applications. According to Jane Silber, Canonical 's CEO, the company remains committed to the vision of reinventing personal computing through a single, adaptive platform for all personal device form factors. For example, the long-awaited first Ubuntu tablet, the Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet, can be used both as a tablet or, with an HDMI monitor and a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, as a PC.
The Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition smartphone can't do that, but you can see that future from here. As Silber said in a statement, "Users are always at the heart of our work together -- something that brings an intuitive and rewarding experience to consumers everywhere."