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How fast is the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition phone?

Barry Collins
9 Feb 2015
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Videos show stuttering performance from the first Ubuntu phone on the market

Videos of the first Ubuntu-based phone to be released in the UK show that the low-budget handset may struggle in terms of performance. The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition will be released this week, and marks the end of a two-year journey for Ubuntu to find a manufacturer willing to ship its smartphone OS. 

The handset's specification is hardly stellar. It has a 4.5in 960 x 540 resolution screen, a quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek Cortex-A7 processor, 1GB of RAM and only 8GB of onboard storage, with the option to bolster that via the memory card slot. 

That low-end specification is telling in videos released by those who've managed to get their hands on the phone. Szymon Waliczek's video shows how it compares to a Google Nexus 4 that's also running the Ubuntu OS. There's little difference between the two handsets, although there is a noticeable lag between applications being selected and opening. Even applications as rudimentary as the Phone and Calculator take a couple of seconds to appear, with loading wheels spinning before they fully load. 

Waliczek, who describes himself as an Ubuntu fan, agrees with a commenter on his Google+ page that the performance of Ubuntu on both handsets is "really slow". "I have to say that I'm disappointed," Waliczek adds on a later comment. 

A separate video posted by Waliczek shows the phone taking just over 30 seconds to reach a usable state from a cold start, which isn't terrible for a low-end handset, but isn't anything to email home about either. 

The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is due to go on sale in the UK this week, with giffgaff the only UK network reported to be stocking the handset. It's believed the device will be sold for around £125. 

The Ubuntu phone has been on a tortuous journey to market. The operating system was originally unveiled in January 2013, but the company didn't have any handset manufacturers willing to install it on their devices. Eventually, Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) tried to get a device crowdfunded by itself, but it fell a long way short of the required investment target. The BQ Aquaris has previously been released as an Android handset, but without a top-drawer manufacturer willing to back the operating system, Ubuntu Phone seems destined to attract nothing more than a cult following. 

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