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.