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Ubuntu Edge revealed as crowdfunded "Formula 1" of phones

Ubuntu Edge revealed as crowdfunded "Formula 1" of phones

The Ubuntu Edge

Canonical has revealed plans to build a high-end smartphone that will run its Ubuntu phone software as well as Android and be financed by crowdfunding via Indiegogo.

The company describes the phone, which it's calling Ubuntu Edge, as being to the phone industry what Formula 1 is to the car industry, acting as a pioneer of new technologies, such as dual-4G antennae for pan-Atlantic 4G coverage, a class-leading 128GB of onboard storage and the ability to function as a desktop PC too.

The latter functionality comes via the Ubuntu operating system the phone will be using, which has two interfaces: one for mobile and one for PC. The Ubuntu Edge will also dual-boot Android, allowing users that have a history of using that platform to continue using their apps.

The phone will be funded by a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, with the company asking for $32,000,000 (£21,500,000) for the project. The campaign plans to produce 40,000 units with them costing either $600 (£394) if you pledge today or $830 (£532) thereafter.

There are no plans for the device to be made available by any other means, though Canonical did say that if successful it could repeat the experiment as "a regular thing."

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, describes the device as bringing "together the most exciting innovations that are real but still on the horizon"

Speaking of the motivation to design Ubuntu for phones, Shuttleworth said "Convergence is the future of computing. So we've reshaped Ubuntu to combine the mobility of a smartphone and the power of a desktop on a single device."

It was while speaking to manufacturers about getting support for its operating system that the company found out that phone producers are reluctant to take a risk on new technologies and that there was a gap in the market for a premium, boundary pushing device for early-adopters


Ubuntu Edge Specs
The Ubuntu Edge specs haven't been fully finalised but its processor is described as being "the latest, fastest multi-core processor" while it will also sport 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Its screen will have a resolution of only 720p but Canonical was keen to point out that it will focus on colour accuracy and dynamic range for the best overall experience. Indeed it poo-pooed the current trend for 1080p phones, describing them as akin to the megapixel race that has long plagued cameras.

Talking of cameras, that of the Edge is also described as being optimised for the best performance rather than simply being the highest resolution.

The design of the phone is all sharp angles and smooth surfaces with a milled metal chassis finished with iPhone 5-esque chamfered edges. Its front will be covered with a sheet of sapphire crystal for high scratch-resistance and will feature no buttons as the phone instead relies heavily on gestures.

The final key feature is the battery which will use silicon anode technology to provide high battery life in as small a space as possible.

If successfully funded Canonical expects the Ubuntu Edge release date to by sometime in 2014.

38 Comments

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KidMod-Southpaw 22nd July 2013, 17:52 Quote
That is definitely quite something! I doubt it'll get fully funded though.
Zinfandel 22nd July 2013, 17:53 Quote
$830?

Are they on drugs?

Looks nice, but you're competing with a £240 Nexus that's nigh on as good bar the internal memory of course, but no doubt that will be rectified in the new one.
GravitySmacked 22nd July 2013, 18:23 Quote
Interesting, I'll be following its progress but can't see it gaining such high funding.
law99 22nd July 2013, 18:53 Quote
Interesting... I agree on the screen size thing. Will make their GPU a happy chappy for sure @ 720p.
rollo 22nd July 2013, 19:48 Quote
$600 is high, $830 is ludicrous. Iphone 5 is less expensive.

$32mil funding wow highest ever price that is.
Phil Rhodes 22nd July 2013, 19:50 Quote
Pan-atlantic 4G coverage - fantastic, at £5/megabyte plus £25/day connection fees, or whatever. The only time mobile internet is potentially really useful is when I'm in LA, and... then I daren't use it. Fanbloodytastic.

And anyway, what is this 4G? I have only ever twice seen the 3G logo appear on my phone, including in central London. 2G barely works. 4G will presumably barely work over an even shorter range.
greigaitken 22nd July 2013, 20:07 Quote
The video intro explains this is the premium end of market. Its like whinging about the cost of 4k monitors. Now pre-iphone blackberry fans have something to buy. Love the saphire crystal screen idea. love the convergence of operating systems so 486 will have to prove itself or be taken over. £500 handset becomes a £40/month 2 year contract. I'm in.
faugusztin 22nd July 2013, 20:43 Quote
@rollo: What country are you living in ?

iPhone 5 is £529 (16GB model) to £699 (64GB model) in UK - vs £532 for Edge after today. So yeah, technically the 16GB model is £3 cheaper than the 128GB Edge. Oh and it has 4GB RAM, unlike the iPhone with 1GB.

PS: Even if we take VAT into account, then 64GB model of iPhone is £582,5 without VAT, which is £50 more than the full price of Edge.

But i won't buy one either, i just bought my HTC One 2 months ago... Looking at the progress, i think they will do it in few days, they are already at $1 million.
Harlequin 22nd July 2013, 21:01 Quote
Yslen 22nd July 2013, 21:08 Quote
I just don't see the appeal of another mobile OS at this stage. Maybe I'm wrong, but would anyone actually consider switching from iOS, Android or Windows Phone to this?
faugusztin 22nd July 2013, 21:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harlequin
iphone 5 on o2 64gb is £719

I was looking at apple.co.uk :D.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yslen
I just don't see the appeal of another mobile OS at this stage. Maybe I'm wrong, but would anyone actually consider switching from iOS, Android or Windows Phone to this?

Well, it is another option, but you don't need to "switch away" from Android, it is Android + Ubuntu desktop + Ubuntu Touch.
Yslen 22nd July 2013, 21:32 Quote
But does it run android apps?

EDIT: the ubuntu part, i mean.
will_123 22nd July 2013, 21:41 Quote
Would have to have lots of faith in Canonical to slip that much money their way without even touching or seeing the device in action properly. CPU specs havent even been released properly....

"The latest, fastest quad core CPU" This is very unspecific.

Not keen on Mark Shuttleworth either. Don't plan to fund his empire. But it look bloody cool I will say that.
faugusztin 22nd July 2013, 21:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by will_123
"The latest, fastest quad core CPU" This is very unspecific.

They don't want to fall in the OYUA trap. If they would say "Snapdragon 800" now, you would say AWESOME. But in May 2014, you will say MEH. That is why you have "latest, fastest quad core", because there will be few more quadcore processors launched in meantime, don't you think ?
KidMod-Southpaw 22nd July 2013, 21:59 Quote
If this is the Formula one of phones, doesn't that mean the phones are going to have weekly safety issues and egotistic users/ drivers? ;)
faugusztin 23rd July 2013, 00:40 Quote
Already at $2,144,248... I think they will get the money in week or so.
dyzophoria 23rd July 2013, 02:20 Quote
they should have learned from MS (surface), that in today's world, high priced premium products don't really make an appeal to the market
Bindibadgi 23rd July 2013, 02:24 Quote
LOL reads like someone ticked all the boxes and also sounds like Ubuntu can't deal with very high PPI displays.

Who is designing it [and if that brick is the final design... my god..]? Does it have engineers with experience? What contracts are in place with LCD/manufacturing/SoC? Who are they contracting to test its functionality in the countries it's meant to work in? $3 million is frankly a drop in the ocean in development costs. Don't get me wrong I'd love to see more OS choice but it takes more than a single kick starter to get a smartphone to market - let alone an industry leading one.
KayinBlack 23rd July 2013, 03:25 Quote
I like this, and it's the first mobile device I've said that about since the very first Android phone (which I had, and took out of service, and stopped using cell phones. Bloody useless things.) I prefer Ubuntu to most things, and if it had support for some of my hardware I'd never look back. I find Android to be a pain at best and a complete pile of trash generally. Same with most touch OSes, but as I already like the interface for Ubuntu, I might get somewhere with it. Might.

But doesn't matter, I'll never have that amount to spend on a phone. Or any amount, for that matter.
AmEv 23rd July 2013, 05:24 Quote
I smell a Bit-Tech giveaway.......... . . . . .


In all seriousness, these are the times I wish I had $600 spare. At all.
jrs77 23rd July 2013, 06:17 Quote
I'm actually interested in a smartphone not using Andfroid, Windows Phone or iOS. I hate these because of the companies spying on their users delivering all the data to the various agencies.

On another note, this Ubuntu-phone is more a small fully fledged PC running Ubuntu like you do on a desktop, and you can connect mouse and keyboard via Bluetooth to use it as an office-PC.
In that light the price isn't that high imho, as we're speaking of the smallest PC ever built here. 4GB RAM and 128GB storage is pretty sweet too, as this would be the first smartphone capable of storing my whole music-library and having some room left afterwards for some apps/software, whatever.

I'm buying a Jolla at the end of the year tho, as it'll run MeeGo and has a user-changeable battery.
Meanmotion 23rd July 2013, 08:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AmEv
I smell a Bit-Tech giveaway.......... . . . . .


In all seriousness, these are the times I wish I had $600 spare. At all.

You and me both!
Nexxo 23rd July 2013, 08:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
Who is designing it [and if that brick is the final design... my god..]?

That was kind of my reaction. The sloping top looks très Surface, but trying to press the power button on it without simultaneously pushing the phone forward and effectively out of your grip is going to be tricky. Expect a lot of accidentally dropped units. That sapphire glass may come in handy...
XXAOSICXX 23rd July 2013, 09:12 Quote
I spy vaporware....
faugusztin 23rd July 2013, 09:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
LOL reads like someone ticked all the boxes and also sounds like Ubuntu can't deal with very high PPI displays.

More like there are no high resolution high quality 4.5" high PPI displays. PenTile or SLCD, neither is without compromises at 1080p.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
Who is designing it [and if that brick is the final design... my god..]?

Did you say the same to Surface design ? And to be honest, i seen worse - *cough*nearly all Samsung or Acer phones*cough*.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
$3 million is frankly a drop in the ocean in development costs.

Goal is $32 million and i am pretty sure software side of things is not calculated in this goal - there are already ROM's for various Nexus devices :
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/Install#Supported_devices_and_codenames
mi1ez 23rd July 2013, 09:41 Quote
Good looking phone though!
MrJay 23rd July 2013, 10:28 Quote
Looks good, even if it is a flop its the most innovation I have seen in mobile phones for years...

Well done for thinking outside the box Canonical : )
scuppy 23rd July 2013, 10:54 Quote
How long before apple sue them :P
rollo 23rd July 2013, 11:25 Quote
Reading there page more is also intresting, 3 mil total dev costs seems small. No cost of material estimates, does not say if they have contracts in place to build these 5k phones.

Using a nexus rom on a phone like this would be backwords, its more mini pc than smartphone. And no one is paying that sort of cash for a nexus look alike you can buy the nexus from google store for alot cheaper.

Also no mension on carrier deals if its 4g in the uk at least there's 1 phone company, there's also 2 different bandwidths for 4g currently are they supplying to both as if not you could find it works for one and not for another.

Way to many questions without answers for my liking.
Nexxo 23rd July 2013, 11:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by faugusztin
Did you say the same to Surface design ?

No, because with a Surface tablet pushing the power button on the sloping top does not push the whole thing out of your hands.
faugusztin 23rd July 2013, 12:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Reading there page more is also intresting, 3 mil total dev costs seems small.

Please link me where you can find this $3 million total development cost, all i can see is $32 million goal and $3.3 million money accumulated so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
No cost of material estimates, does not say if they have contracts in place to build these 5k phones.

5k phones ? $32 million divided by $830 = 38.5k units, considering the $600 offer and $3 million already accumulated it will be around a 45k unit run.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Using a nexus rom on a phone like this would be backwords, its more mini pc than smartphone. And no one is paying that sort of cash for a nexus look alike you can buy the nexus from google store for alot cheaper.

My point was that you can try Ubuntu Touch right now, on the Nexus phone, not other way around. So if you got let's say a Galaxy Nexus after you upgraded to Nexus 4/HTC One/Galaxy S4, then you can put Ubuntu Touch on it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Also no mension on carrier deals if its 4g in the uk at least there's 1 phone company, there's also 2 different bandwidths for 4g currently are they supplying to both as if not you could find it works for one and not for another.

They don't mentoin carrier deals because this is a limited, testing run without carrier involvement. LTE - i see "and the dual-LTE chip will get you online with 4G even when you’re travelling abroad" line on the indiegogo page, so i would say it will support it. Especially considering it will be launched in 2014, every phone SoC will have LTE at that time.

@Nexxo: it's not like they are the only ones with the power buttons on top, and i don't push my HTC One of my hand just because the power button is on top.
rollo 23rd July 2013, 13:28 Quote
They have minimum goals faug. 5k phones is that minimum says so on backing page.

Difficult to confirm what duel LTE chip is as no such chip appears that I have found, does that mean they are making there own.

There's also this the latest quad core chip. Well it can only be nvidia or Qualcomm supplied because Samsung make there own and so does Apple. Nvidia is tegra 4. Unless they making there own if so do they own the arm 7 licence.

I quiet like the design personally would be something I'd consider buying but never backing and I'd imagine alot are in this boat.

Too many big companies have failed to make a smartphone with much bigger budgets than this has.
faugusztin 23rd July 2013, 13:56 Quote
@rollo: That was for the special price limitation (=only max cca 3000 phones only on 1st day for $600), not a minimum goal.
Quote:
This campaign will only receive funds if at least $32,000,000 is raised by Wed 21 Aug 11:59PM PT.

There is no $3M variant, it's either $32M or more or nothing.

LTE - again, you are thinking in context of now. Think in context of what will be on market sometime around Q1/2014 when these phones will be made, if not delayed.

SoC - Samsung sells Exynos to others too, they are in Meizu phones or Hyundai tablets. Then of course there is Qualcomm, Tegra, Rockchip.

You need to think abuut this phone as a Google Glass-like product - small initial run, to show that there is a interest in the platform to the operators, who will then later outsource their own versions to various manufacturers - like Orange has their suff made by ZTE mostly.
Bindibadgi 23rd July 2013, 14:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by faugusztin
More like there are no high resolution high quality 4.5" high PPI displays. PenTile or SLCD, neither is without compromises at 1080p.

Sorry this is a 2011 opinion. Have you used a HTC One? 4.7" 1080p LCD and many of the 5" LCD devices on the market produce fantastic results, even if it's 'only' LTPS rather than leading (but super expensive) IGZO.
Quote:

Did you say the same to Surface design ? And to be honest, i seen worse - *cough*nearly all Samsung or Acer phones*cough*.

Again, regarding the S4 and Note this is not true. Previous designs maybe and Acer and Lenovo phones I will certainly agree with. Surface is a tablet. Tablet and phone user models are different. If they were making a 10" Ubuntu tablet I'd give it a more interest - at least then they could fit in a Baytrail chip, or, have more freedom with application processors.
Quote:

Goal is $32 million and i am pretty sure software side of things is not calculated in this goal - there are already ROM's for various Nexus devices :
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/Install#Supported_devices_and_codenames

Fair enough, but what about all the expert designers and engineers. The first products of any company to market should take at least 18 months. Only with experience can you drop that to 6 and make a quality product. I've been through several development cycles. Good luck to them - I really hope they don't disappoint - but I will be surprised if they pull it off. At lot of the spec looks like just "say the most to get all the monies" and I'd be very wary of that.

faugusztin - every phone won't have LTE in 2014 because MOST markets still don't have LTE, and those that are rolling it out will be on the up-ramp. Emerging markets are.. sometime second half of this decade. Qualicomm is still the only serious chipset maker with an LTE part with the power/size/ceritifcation process requirements to fit phones. Nvidia, Intel and Mediatek are due to launch LTE chips in 2014, but when they are already all delayed from this year and whether they are ready and certified and their basebands/software are stable in time, who knows? They would need to be sampling now in order to make it inside this phone - if they plan to launch Q1'14 their SR (early sample run) stage will Sept-Oct, with ER (engineering run) Nov-Dec to knock out hardware bugs and test software more seriously.
faugusztin 23rd July 2013, 14:45 Quote
@HTC One: i have one for 2 months.
@Samsung: we disagree on this one, design of Samsung devices is simply bad - including Galaxy Nexus or Omnia 7 i own, even more for S3/S4 or ATIV S.

We will see how will it go, at worst they will delay it like Pebble.
rollo 23rd July 2013, 20:35 Quote
Most likely chip is Qualcomm snapdragon 800. Pretty much what bindi said is accurate in the world of phones.

The iphone 6 and next gen Samsung are likely already in testing for next year q3 launches.
Nexxo 23rd July 2013, 22:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by faugusztin
@Nexxo: it's not like they are the only ones with the power buttons on top, and i don't push my HTC One of my hand just because the power button is on top.

The top of your HTC One does not slope back at a good thirty degrees. The Ubuntu Edge phone does. So you are pushing down on a surface that is tilted back, and the direction of some of that force is angled forwards. You are basically pushing the device forwards out of the grip of your fingertips.
theshadow2001 24th July 2013, 16:28 Quote
I like the idea of the ubuntu phone and how they approach convergence, so I contributed. Also I got in on the second round of lower prices. Bit of a gamble but what's life without risk.
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