First impressions on the new Ubuntu phone

Hey guys,

I received my Ubuntu phone yesterday and had some time to play around with it, so I thought I share my initial impression of the OS. The phone is really lower middle class, a bit sluggish at times and doesn’t feel very nice. But I wasn’t expecting that and that’s not why I bought the phone.

“bad things” first

  • of course there aren’t that many apps available as of now, but that isn’t really unexpected.
  • there is no support for caldav and carddav.
  • the one email client I tried can’t display notifications for new mails because the functionality is missing in the OS. bug report already open for that.

great things

  • Well, I really like the today scope, that’s something that I’m missing on my current android device. One “page” where I can find all the relevant information for today.
  • I’m basically only using Tiny Tiny RSS for news, so it would be really nice to have the already existing tt-rss app for ubuntu touch converted as a scope. I already wrote the dev, let’s see what he has to say.
  • The nearby scope is really useful when you’re on the move.
  • photos should include support for self hosted services, like seafile or owncloud but I like the approach of showing the photos by date.
  • ssh access. Ever since I updated to Lollipop none of the ssh apps for android are working anymore and I love my terminal!
  • apt-get! being able to install rsync and vim (to name just two) via command line is just great. I love linux and the ability to create a couple of shell scripts that can do what I need.

That being said, I really think canonical should try and steer away from the integration of services like facebook and google. Everyone else is already doing that and it would take quite some time to get to the same level. Instead, they should focus on the things that nobody else cares about at the moment. Privacy and not selling out the user base by making them the product. This includes build in support for things like caldav and carddav, OSM for maps and navigation.

If you have that, a lot of people will switch over for that reason alone. Your data in your own hands. Make sure to enable users to do just that and I’m sure you’ll see plenty of users making the switch once good hardware is available.

So, if the devs need someone to test some things out on ubuntu touch , I’m more than happy to help out. Hell, I’m even willing to send you the device to scotland if that makes things easier. I said it before and I still think it would be a smart move to focus on ubuntu touch and build a coalition with canonical on the way. This would help both tremendously which would be a very good thing.

So, that’s it for the moment. If you have any questions, just let me know.


haha, that’s why i didn’t get one. i already submit dozens of bugs every year and i don’t mind, but in certain cases i just can’t deal with that and simply expect things to work (e.g. mobile phones).
i suppose it’s different for devs, but how to justify that (unless you’re a mobile app dev) to yourlself - you should get the phone for free!

i also think that should be a good feature. i had it on my jailbroken iPhone, but i never used it a lot because it didn’t have a full shell. does it have a complete bash shell? what about programming languages (eg PHP, Python?)

sounds interesting overall.

Well, the ubuntu phone is not my daily driver (yet), so these things don’t really bother me that much, but I do see your point.

Yes, a full fledged shell (bash). Installed vim and copied my .bash* and .vim* files over and everything looks the same, which is absolutely fantastic.

phablet@ubuntu-phablet:~$ sudo apt-cache search php  | wc -l 
phablet@ubuntu-phablet:~$ sudo apt-cache search python  | wc -l 

Nice, I’m looking forward to get one at some point. How does the side bar and the swiping mecanism fells to navigate?

I pledged for the Ubuntu Edge when they had the crowd fund and it was a shame they didn’t pull that off. I am pretty happy with the HTC m8 I bought instead, but there is a big part of me that would like a GNU based Linux phone!

It is interesting to see the rise of Macs for developers (Unix based at least!), even when the target platform is Linux. I still think that if the right products bring the Linux experience together, it will start to supplant closed source solutions. It seems that day is not here yet, but it keeps shuffling closer…

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Sidebar: I’m not so sure about that just yet. Coming from a custom launcher on android where I put my most used apps in separate folders I think this might not be enough. On the other hand, most apps should be replaced by being integrated into scopes. So we’ll have to see about that.

swiping: I think i like the multitasking or switching between apps better than on android although I’m not sure why that is. Might be that it feels more like on a PC.

But overall, they really put some thought into the design of the system and tried to make the experience unified throughout the whole system and I really like that approach. It doesn’t feel as cluttered as any of the other mobile OS. I just hope that devs will incorporate the scopes accordingly.

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I’m waiting for the Meizu MX4 Edition to be released in April. BQ has pretty low specs imo…

Interesting phone, I might give it a try. I just wish they would make a smaller phone. I currently own an OPO and it’s really big. The Meizu seems to be just a little bit smaller. I miss the grip of my old LG Optimus 7.

Absolutely, the specs are not great but at this state the phone is merely a toy/something you can develop on and not a daily driver. It will take some time until the OS is mature enough to warrant a change from Android/iOS, so I personally don’t feel the need to pay a couple of hundred Euros more for a phone that won’t be my daily driver.

The BQ is more than enough for me, and it’s not even that it’s horribly slow, sure you have to wait here and there but it’s more than enough for the(my) intended purpose. YMMV