Retail giant Snapdeal is selling two Ubuntu Phones made by Bq Readers through its website. It is the first major international retailer to stock the Ubuntu Phone.
The two handsets aren’t new, and have been available to buy in Europe for several months:
- Bq Aquaris E4.5 – MSRP ₹11,999
- Bq Aquaris E5 – MSRP ₹13,999
Bq already ships its devices internationally, including to mainland Europe and the US (though bandwidth issues in the US means there’s little incentive as the phones only operate on 2G). The company also plan to begin shipping to Russia later this month.
Snapdeal sell a 4G Android 5.1 phone for only Rs 4,999 ($75)
Both Ubuntu phones are comparatively under powered when viewed against newer, often cheaper, mid-range Android phones. You can, for example, buy a Moto G 3rd Gen on Snapdeal for Rs 13,999, an ASUS Zen 5 for Rs 10,499 or nab a dual-sim, 4G-equipped ‘Yu Yunique’ running Android 5.1 for Rs 4,999 (roughly $75).
But regardless of the value for money on paper, both of these Bq phones handle the Ubuntu Phone OS well enough for texting, calls and basic web-browsing. There’s a small but growing set of native apps available on the Ubuntu store, plus hundreds of web bookmarks and scopes.
The Bq Aquaris E5 Ubuntu Edition went on sale in Europe back in June and features a bigger screen, more storage and better cameras than the smaller E4.5 — but both phones have the same core hardware specifications.
- 5-inch IPS screen (1280 x 720 pixels, 294 ppi)
- MediaTek MT6582 CPU @ 1.3 GHz (quad-core)
- 16GB eMMC storage
- 1GB RAM
- 13 MP rear camera, 5MP front-facing
- 2500 mAh battery
- 4.5-inch IPS screen (540×960, 240 ppi)
- MediaTek MT6582 CPU @ 1.3GHz (quad-core)
- 8GB eMMC Storage
- 1GB RAM
- 8 MP rear camera, 5MP front-facing
- 2150 mAh battery
Unlike the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Phone which is stuck at 16GB storage, both the Bq devices have an SD card slot to allow you to expand storage.
Ubuntu Phone, India Style
The phone experience is customised, with Indian-specific news and entertainment content in the Today, News and Music scopes.
There’s also a Bollywood Scope (pictured below) pre-installed, plus scopes for Indian news services NDTV and TOI. Canonical hope to find more sources over time to ‘further develop’ the content experience for India buyers.
As a primarily a web-centric phone OS built around web-apps and Scopes that pull data from online sources, the Ubuntu Phone works best with strong 3G coverage and a good data plan and/or a stable Wi-Fi connection.
Ubuntu Phone India FAQ
Where Can I Buy It?
Online retailer Snapdeal stocks both of the Bq Aquaris Ubuntu devices directly through their website. There are no flash sale or invite gimmicks.
How Much Does the Ubuntu Phone Cost?
It depends on which handset you buy.
The 5-inch, 16GB Bq Aquaris E5 costs from MSRP ₹13,999 (excluding shipping or other fees).
The 4.5-inch, 8GB Bq Aquaris E4.5 costs from MSRP ₹11, 999 (excluding shipping or other fees).
These are Android Phones, right? Can I Flash Android to the Ubuntu version?
Yes. Bq devices are easy to unlock and since hardware is identical on the Ubuntu and Android editions you can able “flash” an Android recovery image to your device. You won’t be able to see the Android navigation keys on the lower bezel of the handset, but they will work when pressed.
If attempting this do be aware that you may brick your device and flashing may fall outside of any warranty you may have.