Android Rivalry: Ubuntu Touch

Android is the world’s leading Smartphone Operating system, on hundreds of millions, perhaps even billions of devices. Android is the choice of operating systems for many tech wizards, developers, and average consumers. Over 80% of the smartphone market has been dominated by Android, not to mention, Android is the base operating system for almost every single custom Rom, and OEM skin/interface, like Samsung’s Touchwiz and HTC’s Sense.

Although Android is something that most users prefer, Apple’s iOS is not the only smartphone operating system competitor. A rise of mobile operating systems for these devices are on the horizon, quite interestingly, Ubuntu Touch is the topic of discussion today.

ubuntu phone

The Android operating system is actually a distribution of the open source Desktop operating system, Linux. I have covered this in the past, but many people haven’t realized this yet. Android uses a lot of similar techniques of operation to Linux, but to most people, it seems Android is branded by itself as a standalone mobile OS.

The Open source Operating system, Linux is free for users to use. It is Open source, meaning anybody can view the source code and how Linux works, and in this case, developers and anybody can feel free to take that, and tamper with it, creating their very own versions of Linux, most likely named something else. That’s what the term Distro (Distributions) mean, they’re just pretty much another version of Linux.

Keep in mind each different distribution of Linux was created to do something specific, whether it may be to run a server, provide top notch security, or even just meant to be used as an easy to use, user friendly desktop alternative, which is what Ubuntu is.

Ubuntu started off as an Operating system aimed at performing specific functions, but it’s main variation is a user friendly productive environment.

Ubuntu has 10 Different variations, each like Sub-Distributions of itself. (Ubuntu refers to variations as ‘Flavors”) (Variations sourced from Ubuntu’s website) These 10 different versions are:

  • Kubuntu- Stable Operating system aimed at home and office use
  • Edubuntu- Targeted at school use, it offers productive and child friendly features, as well as an easy to set up, teacher/network administrator environment
  • Xubuntu- Light, stable configurable Desktop environment
  • Mythubuntu- a community supported add-on for Ubuntu focused upon setting up a standalone MythTV based PVR system. It can be used to prepare a standalone system or for integration with an existing MythTV network, (Sourced directly from Ubuntu variations description webpage)
  • Ubuntu Studio- Community developed/supported Multi-media sub-distribution of Ubuntu. Aimed at graphical/video production experts
  • Lubuntu- Fast, lightweight, efficient, very effective on low end systems with limited resources and processing power
  • Ubuntu Gnome- Community supported, uses GNOME shell as opposed to Unity
  • Ubuntu Kylin- Aimed at Chinese users, becoming more user friendly for the Chinese market
  • Ubuntu MATE- A continuation of GNOME 2 desktop environment

And of course, Ubuntu Touch, the mobile operating system, that may or may not pose as a threat to Android in terms of competition. Ubuntu made a bold move to bring their desktop integrated operating system, to the mobile world, making it even lighter than their super lightweight distributions. Ubuntu touch does not support many devices, and consumers usually don’t want to adapt to change if unnecessary, but Ubuntu may provide very useful features to on-the-go developers.

The devices that support Ubuntu Touch will be listed below, as referenced from Ubuntu’s devices page.

  • BQ Aquaris E4.5 (official Ubuntu Touch device)
  • Nexus 4
  • Nexus 7 2013 Wi-Fi
  • Nexus 10
  • Galaxy Nexus (No longer supported)
  • Nexus 7 (No longer supported)


We can see that Ubuntu has targeted Google’s Nexus line-up of devices, for reasons unknown, perhaps hardware/kernel support that optimizes the Ubuntu Touch environment…?

Although Ubuntu touch doesn’t support a wide variety of devices, it does have an official out of the box device that is supported very well. It’s called the BQ Aquaris E4.5. This device has HUGE bezels, like I’m talking huge, even worse than the pre-iPhone 6 line-up. The B4 Aquaris E4.5 device specs will be listed below, courtesy of the BQ official device webpage.


  • Network Connectivity: GSM/HSPA(+)
  • Screen: 4.5Inch IPS Multitouch screen, Dragontrail protection (instead of Corning’s Gorilla Glass), 540×960 resolution, with 240 PPI (Pixel Density)
  • OS: Android 4.4 (on regular version of E4.5) UBUNTU TOUCH on other variation
  • Weight: 123g
  • Chipset: Mediatek Quad-Core Cortex A7 1.3GHz
  • GPU: Mali 400
  • Storage: 8GB Internal Storage (5.5GB user available)
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Primary Camera: 8MP-13MP Interpolated, with dual LED Flash, autofocus
  • Secondary Camera: 5MP-8MP Interpolated
  • Battery: Li-Po 2150mAh battery

The Aquaris BQ E4.5 is priced at 170 Euros on their website, but as expected, a low price means low quality. As we can see from device specifications, the E4.5 doesn’t seem to be very attractive aesthetically/cosmetically, or internally. The device’s specs are actually quite awful, with a low end/low resolution screen.

 Although, Ubuntu touch as a concept may start the revolution of User defined/User developed operating systems to the mobile market. Hopefully we would see a higher end, flagship variation compatible with the Ubuntu Touch. That would spice things up, offering users a variety of options when it comes to Mobile Platforms.

About Kenny Leung
Kenny currently lives in Buffalo, NY. Where he studies computer networking & programming. He has owned a number of Android phones including the Galaxy s3, Galaxy 3 mini, Galaxy s4 mini, LG optimus 3D, and the Oneplus one which he is currently using. Kenny will likely get the Oneplus two once it is released.

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