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First Ubuntu phone is now available in the U.S., but with a catch

by Killian Bell | August 9, 2015August 9, 2015 2:00 pm PDT

The world’s first Ubuntu phone, manufactured by Spanish smartphone maker BQ, is now available in the U.S. for the first time — six months after making its debut in Europe. However, those who are interested should know that it comes with a catch.

The Aquarius E5 Ubuntu Edition is an affordable device with entry-level specifications. It packs a 5-inch 720p display, a quad-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.7GHz, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage for just €199.90 (approx. $219) off-contract.

There’s also a smaller model with a 4.5-inch qHD (540×960) priced at €169.90 (approx. $186).

If you’re a smartphone shopper on a tight budget, or you’re just keen to try out Ubuntu on a mobile device, then you might be itching to get your hands on one of BQ’s devices — but before you order, there’s something you should be aware of.

While these handsets will work in the U.S., they are only partially compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. They do not boast LTE connectivity, and they do not support the HSPA+ bands used by these carriers, so you’re only going to get 2G data.

That’s going to be close to unbearable in 2015, so you can forget using your Ubuntu phone for watching YouTube videos, streaming music from Spotify, or even just social networking on the go. Of course, they will work perfectly fine on Wi-Fi.

There is a new Ubuntu phone on the way from Meizu, however, and it will be able to take advantage of the 4G networks offered by AT&T and T-Mobile. It also brings better specifications, but there’s no word on a U.S. release date just yet.


Killian Bell

Killian Bell is a 20-something technology journalist based in a tiny town in England. He has an obsession with that little company in Cupertino...

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