Recent photo posted of Weibo's Ubuntu page
Recent photo posted of Weibo’s Ubuntu page

Meizu is reportedly planning to unveil new smartphones in the next few weeks, and there’s a suggestion at least one could be Ubuntu powered.

Trying to decipher anything Ubuntu related where Meizu is involved is a muddle. The Chinese company is fantastic at engaging its fan-base and is constantly posting teasers and dropping hints about new handsets on Chinese social media like Weibo.

In fact it’s one such post to Weibo that serves as the source drop for this latest rumour.

Meizu posted a teaser for an upcoming event. The image features three circles, the date of ‘January 27’ and a motif that purportedly translates as “three happiness”.

Three Ubuntu Phones? Depends Who You Ask

1.27 "Three Happiness"
1.27 “Three Happiness”

GSMArena interprets the “three” slogan literally. They suggest that “three products [will be] announced”, all of which may or may not be running Ubuntu.

Not an illogical conclusion, especially given Meizu’s current product churn.

Fellow mobile site GizChina references another invite sporting the same date but whose artwork is based on the number ‘5’. This, they suggest,  signals that a 5-inch version of the company’s new M1 Note will be unveiled, a previously rumoured to be coming in an Ubuntu spin.

As Meizu is one of only two Ubuntu Phone hardware partners it is logical to assume that something Ubuntu-flavoured must be coming, and coming soon. The company only has to sneeze right now before it is cited as proof of an upcoming Ubuntu handset launch.

Ubuntu Flyme OS

What makes the muddle more of…well, a muddle, is the continued reference to “UFO” (‘Ubuntu Flyme OS’) in all of these rumours. UFO was teased as being ‘the key to Ubuntu handsets’ by Meizu’s senior manager Zhang Heng shortly after the company signed a ‘strategic agreement’ with Canonical back in December.

Would Meizu really shift its very lucrative and very popular Android-based FlymeOS over to Ubuntu? Or, inverted, would Ubuntu be happy being a mere ‘skin’ for Android?

The idea of a merger was scoffed at by one of my sources at Canonical. That suggests that either a) they wanted to throw me off the trail — which they have done plenty of times before — or b), and far more likely in this case, that the current interpretation of Heng’s ‘UFO’ comment is wide of the mark or more abstract than Google Translate suggests.

The All New ‘Meizu Ubuntu Confusion’ 2015

Back to this latest launch rumour which, more than others, seems to hold some water given that there are invites and teasers floating around that come direct from Meizu.

Could both the mangled translation of “UFO”, and this reference to “three” be connected? Could this “three happiness” be a single phone running Ubuntu and Flyme OS and another mobile OS? Lending the most circumstantial of credence to the idea is the font used in the teaser. It’s called Segoe Light. It’s made by Microsoft. And it’s the UI font for Windows Phone.

I feel dirty suggesting that. 

If the triple boot is a go-er (and I’ve heard nothing to suggest it is, but it seems more likely than three Ubuntu handsets arriving in one swoop) Meizu wouldn’t be the only OEM to try it. If you follow us on Twitter you may have read our tweet about the Alcatel Pixi phone, a new handset that runs Windows Phone, Android and Firefox OS and is super dirt cheap.

There’s no guarantee that ‘January 27’ will reveal anything. Meizu often teases dates at which they’ll make an official announcement about the date for an official release announcement.

For now (or until I can track down a copy of Simplified Chinese for Dummies) we’re just going to have to wait.

With the first Ubuntu Phone proper (made by Bq) going on sale in February, and Mobile World Congress 2015 taking place a week or two later, it is going to be a busy few months for all Ubuntu fans, whatever happens. 

Ubuntu Phone meizu