The Ubuntu project announced a stable build for Ubuntu Touch phones, a week after Meizu tipped an Ubuntu version of the Meizu MX4 phone due in December.
The Ubuntu for Phones team at the Canonical’s Ubuntu Project announced the arrival of the first image from the ubuntu-rtm (release to manufacturing) distribution for phones. The announcement followed last week’s tease from Meizu, saying a version of the Android-based Meizu MX4 was on schedule for shipping with Ubuntu in December.
The RTM image of Ubuntu Touch “seems to be the most stable ubuntu-rtm image we ever had,” writes Łukasz ‘sil2100’ Zemczak of the Ubuntu Phones team. “Most blockers have been resolved (along with the no-input unity8 lockup bug), with only more minor issues remaining.”
Major enhancements of the ubuntu-rtm build are said to include:
- MTP server fixes
- Facebook chat notifications
- Mir 0.7.1 (overlay enabled back again)
- Unity8 support for nested prompts
- New Ubuntu UI Toolkit
- Tons and tons of fixes for core applications, main UI, scopes and internal components
Meizu MX4 to ship in Ubuntu version
The Ubuntu release will likely first arrive in a Meizu device, now revealed to be a custom version of the Meizu MX4, which is shipping this month with Android. It’s possible however, that BQ — the other phone vendor partner announced by Canonical last February — could also arrive with an Ubuntu phone by the end of the year, as promised. The Meizu MX4 with Ubuntu will indeed ship in December, as tipped by China-based Meizu through Meizu’s Italian blog (translated).
Meizu MX4, as shown on the Meizu Italia blog
(click image to enlarge)
It is unclear where the Meizu phone will be released, but the choice of Italy for the leak suggests Meizu may range beyond its traditional focus on China. It’s also unclear whether this will be a dual-boot phone or will only be available in separate Ubuntu and Android versions.
The Meizu and BQ phones will run a version of Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn), which entered beta last month, and is expected to reach final beta on the same day the Pro will be revealed: Sept. 25. The final release is expected on Oct. 23. The previous release, which added tablet support, was Ubuntu 14.04, which was released in April.
The Ubuntu version of the Meizu MX4 will be a “Pro” version that will not be revealed until Sept. 25, says the Meizu Italia blog. The standard version of the Meizu MX4 was available for pre-order for $489, but sales have halted until the formal launch on Sept. 22. The MX4 runs Meizu’s Android-based Flyme OS on MediaTek’s MT6595 system-on-chip, a Big.Little, octa-core SoC that combines four 2.2GHz Cortex-A17 cores with four 1.7GHz Cortex-A7 cores.
The phone is further equipped with a 5.36-inch, 15:9 display that uses a new Nega liquid crystal technology and LED backlight module developed with Sharp that together are claimed to provide 85 percent increase in NTSC color gamut, 1100:1 contrast ratio, and brightness of up to 500 nits. The phone supports the latest TD-LTE and FDD-LTE 4G networks. Additional Meizu MX4 features include 802.11ac WiFi, a 20.7-megapixel camera with 4K video capture support at 30fps, and a 3100mAh battery.
The Pro version of the MX4 that will apparently offer Ubuntu was recently rumored to use a Samsung Exynos 5430 SoC. This 20nm-fabricated Cortex-A15/A7 Big.Little octa-core SoC is clocked to 1.8GHz and 1.3GHz, respectively. The MX4 Pro is rumored to offer a 5.4-inch screen with 2560 x 1536 resolution, plus 20.7- and 13-megapixel cameras, and up to 64GB of storage.
In either case, it appears Canonical is aiming high for its flagship device. This makes sense considering that Ubuntu Touch is being billed as a desktop-like convergence Linux distribution that can run equally well on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Fortunately for Canonical, among the other mobile Linux contenders in the hunt, Samsung’s first Tizen smartphone has been postponed indefinitely. The most successful of the new mobile Linux OSes is Mozilla’s Firefox OS, but it’s squarely aimed at the low end, as indicated by the $35 Firefox OS phones that shipped recently in India from Intex and Spice.
Jolla Expands to India
Jolla’s Jolla phone, which runs the Linux-based Sailfish OS, has been mostly limited to European sales, and has few major partners. However, earlier this week, Jolla announced it was following Mozilla by expanding into India with the help of retailer Snapdeal. This is a mid-range phone, however, and is expected to have a fairly high price when it ships on Sept. 23.