Ubuntu Linux fans could be sporting smartphones that run the open source operating system by next Valentine's Day. Device manufacturer bq has confirmed that phones powered by Canonical's Ubuntu Touch OS will hit the market in February 2015.
When Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth announced the company's partnerships with Meizu and bq last February, he promised Ubuntu phones by the end of 2014. That timeline has been pushed back a bit, but the news that bq will begin selling its Ubuntu smartphone, the Aquarius E4.5, will please open source fans who have waited a long time for a phone that runs on a full-fledged Linux distribution (which Android is really not).
bq's phone will go on sale only in the European market, but there should be no restrictions in place that would prevent consumers from using it elsewhere. And since the device, like most of bq's hardware, will likely be available for purchase online, there's no reason people in other regions should have difficulty getting hold of an Aquarius E4.5 (which, by the way, is aptly named, given that the phone will likely appear in Aquarius's zodiac month).
bq has not announced what the Ubuntu phone will cost, but the Android version of the same device—which is a mid-level smartphone, probably just what Canonical needs to have a shot at building a real user base that extends beyond the die-hard Linux-loving crowd—currently runs €159.90, or just under $200.
Along with Meizu, bq is one of only two hardware vendors that partnered with Canonical to deliver smartphones running Ubuntu Touch, the variant of Ubuntu oriented toward mobile devices that Canonical has been working on for a while. Meizu has also promised to release an Ubuntu phone in early 2015, but has not yet set a date.