Ubuntu smartphone European release date due in February

Canonical has finally announced its first Ubuntu smartphone, which will be manufactured by Spanish device maker BQ.

Officially named the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition, the handset will be available in Europe initially through a series of flash sales priced at 169.90.

These sales will take place the week beginning 9 February with exact times and dates to be announced through the @Ubuntu and @bqreaders Twitter accounts, via Google+ (Ubuntu G+) and on the Ubuntu Facebook page.

Key specifications include 4.5in screen, a MediaTek quad-core Cortex A7 processor running at up to 1.3 GHz and 1GB RAM. The device will also include 8GB of internal storage.

There's a 5-megapixel camera on the front and an 8-megapixel snapper on the rear with a BSI sensor.

The Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition will ship with a dual SIM configuration and will be unlocked. A select number of operators including 3 (Sweden), amena.com (Spain), giffgaff (UK) and Portugal Telecom will offer special SIM bundles.

In terms of the interface, Ubuntu will display content in an aggregated fashion instead of relying on the traditional app tray model. Music, social, web, local services, and photos will all be accessible from the home screen, in what will be known as Scopes'.

"We're not coming out with another iOS or Android clone. We're introducing a brand new way for people to interact with their smartphones," claimed Cristian Parrino, VP of mobile at Canonical during a pre-brief.

The Ubuntu smartphone OS will also support mainstream HTML5, so developers can reuse apps they've already created for the web.

Canonical is targeting early adopters at the initial launch, but the firm is confident it can replicate the success of unknown companies such as Xiaomi, which have sprung up in Asia.

"We're learned quite a bit from China where unknown innovative brands have become extremely successful in a cluttered market by focusing on early adopters," Parrino continued.

Canonical previously tried to raise 32 million via crowd-funding to bring the device to market in 2013. Despite failing short of the target by raising 12 million, it still managed to secure a deal with BQ and Chinese firm Meizu.

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.