BQ hit hard at the start of the year by lifting the veil on a special version of its Aquaris E4.5 . Why special? Because it is powered by a relatively atypical platform: Ubuntu Touch. It is even one of the first phones to take advantage of it and that is precisely what made me want to take it in hand. Here is the story of this amazing experience.
The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is a very popular product at the moment, and the manufacturer could only leave it with me for a few days. Unfortunately, I will not be able to publish a test and you will therefore have to content yourself with this grip.
The good part is that you will find two videos in this article. While the former will focus on the phone lines, the latter will let you see what Ubuntu Touch looks like.
But before going any further, we must stop for a few moments on the technical sheet of the terminal.
If you are expecting true war lightning capable of competing with the tenors of the genre, then for sure, you might be disappointed. The BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is positioned on the entry level and its characteristics are far from being those of a Galaxy S6 or an HTC One M9.
Here is what the phone offers:
- 4.5 inch IPS screen.
- Resolution of 920 × 540, pixel density of 240 ppi.
- MediaTek processor consisting of four cores clocked at 1.3 GHz.
- Mali 400 GPU clocked at 500 MHz.
- 1 GB of RAM.
- 8 GB of storage space.
- Main sensor of 8 million pixels.
- 5 million pixel front camera.
- WiFi 802.11 b / g / n, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G / 3G +, Dual SIM.
- 2,150 mAh battery.
The biggest flaw of the Aquaris, ultimately, is the lack of 4G. I know that it does not cover the entire territory, but it is developing more and more. And this even in small towns.
Good point, however, it is offered at a rather aggressive price since it costs 169.90 euros. Be careful, however, because it is not easy to find and you have to wait for the flash sales organized by BQ on social networks to get your hands on it.
Design & Ergonomics
The phone is in line with other Aquaris and obviously looks a lot like the E5 4G ( tested here ). It is even a true copy. The only difference is in its dimensions.
Its shell therefore gives pride of place to plastic. It is soft to the touch and it has the added advantage of not being slippery. The terminal is very light in hand and we find this famous broken border specific to the range. Some will like it, others less. For my part, it gives it cachet.
The Aquaris has no physical or sensitive buttons on the front. It will be controlled entirely through its touch screen.
The button to unlock the terminal is on the right edge, above the two buttons for volume control. It's a little too high for my taste and it won't be easy to reach it. Problematic, especially since it will be the only way to activate it, Ubuntu Touch obviously not managing the famous “double tap to wake” so practical.
On the other side, we will find two hatches that will accommodate our SIM cards. You must use the supplied accessory – or a pinhead – to remove them from their housing. Fortunately, this is not the case with the micro SD card cover, placed on the upper edge.
Since we are talking about it, know that it is also up there that the headphone jack of the device is located.
The micro USB port is located on the lower edge of the terminal, framed by two grids concealing the microphone and the speaker phone.
The Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition may not be perfect, but it's not unpleasant to look at and you don't necessarily have the feeling of being on the entry level.
I'm not going to lie to you, Ubuntu Touch disturbed me a lot and it took me long hours to find my bearings.
The ergonomics of the platform are quite particular, in fact. The interface has no buttons. To navigate from one screen to another, it will therefore be necessary to rely on several different “gestures”.
If you want to display the launcher, you will have to perform a horizontal swipe from left to right. It is fully customizable and the user will be able to add, modify or delete the shortcuts on the fly.
At the bottom, we will also find a red icon referring to the platform's home screen.
To navigate between open applications, a simple swipe from right to left will suffice. Be careful though because there are two options here. A short gesture will make you jump from application to application while a long and pressed gesture will bring up the list of all running tools.
The problem, of course, is that there is little difference between the two gestures and sometimes it happens that you bring up full multitasking when you just wanted to go back to the previous app.
Ubuntu Touch also includes a dynamic menu, varying depending on the application launched. It appears on the screen when you swipe from bottom to top. The reverse gesture will display the settings and all associated configuration tools, divided among several tabs.
On the sidelines, there are also the Scopes, which work a bit like the Google Now cards.
They will thus be able to send information to interactive welcome screens. The one dedicated to the news will look for the latest articles published by the media to display them to us on a single page. Another will list all the activities and things to do around our location. And so on.
Ubuntu Touch comes with ten Scopes but it is perfectly possible to add more on the fly by snooping in the platform's store.
I didn't have time to delve too much into the apps side. Just know that the Aquaris comes with all the usual tools: the address book, the browser, the SMS, the media player and so on. The store seems fairly well stocked but I don't have enough perspective to judge.
I haven't kept the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition long enough to be able to give you a well-founded and argued opinion.
What I can tell you, however, is that the terminal is quite elegant, very light and pleasant to handle. Without being a thunderbolt, he is powerful enough to properly spin his platform. And if we add to the list an ultra aggressive price positioning, we get a nice alternative to the tenors of the genre.
Ubuntu Touch left me very perplexed at first and I had a lot of trouble getting used to its ergonomics. There are things that do not necessarily seem very logical to me. Like having to bring up the dock to find the button back to Home Scope, for example.
I think Canonical would do well to rely on physical or sensitive buttons to help us interact with its platform.
Apart from that, Ubuntu Touch is not lacking in interest. If you have the opportunity to test it, go for it, it might surprise you.