Ubuntu Edge smartphone raises $4.8M (and can now be reserved for $675)


What is Ubuntu Edge?

In the car industry, Formula 1 provides a commercial testbed for cutting-edge technologies. The Ubuntu Edge project aims to do the same for the mobile phone industry — to provide a low-volume, high-technology platform, crowdfunded by enthusiasts and mobile computing professionals. A pioneering project that accelerates the adoption of new technologies and drives them down into the mainstream.

This beautifully crafted smartphone is a proving ground for the most advanced mobile technologies on the horizon, a showpiece for true mobile innovation. And at the heart of it all is convergence: connect to any monitor and this Ubuntu phone transforms into an Ubuntu PC, with a fully integrated desktop OS and shared access to all files.

We’re fascinated by converged computing, the idea that the smartphone in your pocket can also be the brain of the PC on your desk. We’ve shaped Ubuntu so you can transition seamlessly between the two environments. Now all that’s needed is a phone that’s designed from the ground up to be a PC as well.

The Ubuntu Edge is our very own superphone, a catalyst to drive the next generation of personal computing.

The hardware

We’ve scoured the research labs of the biggest companies and most exciting startups for the latest and greatest mobile technologies to specify the first-generation Edge.

Crafted from cool, textured amorphous metal, the Edge has a distinctive, precise look but its rakishly chamfered edges are shaped to fit naturally in the palm — our design prototype already has a wonderfully solid feel. It’s the right size, too. Edge gestures are the next big thing in mobile, and our testing has found that a 4.5in screen is ideal for comfortable control of all four edges with one hand.

We also believe the race for ever higher resolution has become a distraction. Beyond 300ppi you’re adding overhead rather than improving display clarity. We think colour, brightness and dynamic range are now the edge of invention so we’ll choose a display for its balance of resolution, dynamic range and colour accuracy.

We’ll protect that gorgeous display with something vastly tougher than glass: pure sapphire crystal, a material so hard only diamond could scratch it. For a phone to run a full desktop OS, it must have the raw power of a PC. We’ll choose the fastest available multi-core processor, at least 4GB of RAM and a massive 128GB of storage. The battery will use silicon-anode technology, so we can squeeze more energy into the same dimensions.

With that kind of muscle, this phone can be your main PC anywhere — and we really do mean anywhere. You can use the desktop wherever you can find a standard HDMI screen, and the dual-LTE chip will get you online with 4G even when you’re travelling abroad. It’s desktop computing gone truly mobile.

The software

Next-generation hardware deserves innovative software. The Ubuntu Edge will dual-boot both the Ubuntu phone OS and Android, and convert into a fully integrated Ubuntu desktop PC.

First, Ubuntu mobile. We designed the interface to create a beautiful home screen that’s free from the usual clutter. You navigate by swiping over an edge of the screen: open your favourite apps on the left edge, switch instantly between open apps from the right, and use the system and app toolbars at the top and bottom respectively. It’s so simple, Ubuntu doesn’t need a home button at all.

Specialist data artists have designed Ubuntu’s welcome screen, with graphics that evolve over time to reflect your use of the phone. We’ve reinvented the inbox so you can read and respond to texts, emails and social media posts in an instant.

From mobile… to desktop. Yes, it’s the full Ubuntu desktop OS used by millions on a daily basis — and it runs directly from the phone, so you’ll be able to move seamlessly from one environment to the other with no file syncing or transfers required. The core OS and applications are fully integrated with their smartphone equivalents, so you can even make and receive calls from the desktop while you work.

Finally, you can also boot the phone into Android. And there’s a good reason for that…

The rollout plan

As well as being a bonus for app developers and anyone with a big Android app collection, including Android on the phone means we’re able to offer full convergence at launch. On day one, you’ll be able to launch the Ubuntu desktop from within Android using our existing Ubuntu for Android app. That integration is fully functional today, as you can see from this video.

Then shortly after launch we’ll push out a free software update that adds this desktop integration to Ubuntu mobile as well. That’s the real goal we’re working towards. At that point you’ll have a leading-edge smartphone that runs Ubuntu and Android, both of which can also run a fully integrated Ubuntu desktop OS. What other phone can match that?

However you choose to use Ubuntu Edge, the incredible components will keep it running fast and fresh as our software evolves. We’ll push out monthly Ubuntu software updates to add features and polish, and we guarantee to keep supporting the phone for three years.

For developers

HTML5 apps written for other platforms can be brought over to Ubuntu with ease, and any web property can quickly be adapted to run as a web app, with its own icon and access to system services. For richer applications, use our QML toolkit for amazingly productive high-performance engineering.

But best of all, using the Ubuntu SDK you can write and upload a single native application that has desktop, tablet and phone interfaces. It’s a developer’s dream.

Technical specifications

  • Dual boot Ubuntu mobile OS and Android
  • Fully integrated Ubuntu desktop PC when docked
  • Fastest multi-core CPU, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage
  • Micro-SIM
  • 4.5in 1,280 x 720 HD sapphire crystal display
  • 8mp low-light rear camera, 2mp front camera
  • Dual-LTE, dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4, NFC
  • GPS, accelerometer, gyro, proximity sensor, compass, barometer
  • Stereo speakers with HD audio, dual-mic recording, Active Noise Cancellation
  • MHL connector, 3.5mm jack
  • Silicon-anode Li-Ion battery
  • 64 x 9 x 124mm

Specifications are subject to change.

About our project

We’ve been through a long creative process, from early concepts and sketches to 3D wireframes and a variety of test handsets. It’s all led us to the beautiful Ubuntu Edge prototype that you see throughout this page.

The Ubuntu Edge is an exclusive production run, available only through Indiegogo. All of the funding we receive goes directly towards producing the device for expected delivery in May 2014. The only pockets getting filled by this campaign will be yours when the handset arrives.

A lot of people around the world have collaborated to get us this far. We have a beautiful prototype Ubuntu Edge handset, we have advanced Ubuntu software running across phone and desktop, we have experienced operators and manufacturing partners in place, and we have incredibly talented and passionate people to put it all together.

All we need now is you.

Risks and challenges

Although our core business is software for PCs and the cloud, we know the phone industry pretty well too. We’ve been working with manufacturers and carriers, so everything we need is already in place. We also have a team based in Taiwan where the bulk of the production will occur; and we have engineers around the world who have built this kind of product before. We’re well prepared for the journey ahead.

And it is going to be a journey. We’ve set such a high crowdfunding target for a good reason. Between design, certification and manufacture, the costs of building a new phone are huge — but the more we produce, the lower the final cost of each handset. Setting such an ambitious target means a more competitive price per device.

Finally, the very nature of this concept device means the exact component list is fluid until we enter production to ensure we’re picking the best available part at the time. If we are forced to change a major feature or component, we’ll come up with something just as innovative to replace it. If you’ve backed us, you’ll be kept right up to date.


Do I need to add the cost of shipping to my pledge?

If you live in the US or the UK, shipping is free. For all other destinations, please add the amount specified in the perk description. Local import taxes may apply.

I contributed to a perk but I forgot to add the extra $30 for shipping. How can I increase the amount?

No problem! If you’d like to add funds for shipping, you can make another contribution and select “No Perk, Just a Contribution.”

I can’t get my payment to work in Paypal, what should I do?

Email the Indiegogo Customer Happiness Team at support@indiegogo.com. They’ll be able to track your transaction and help with any issues.

What countries and mobile networks will support the Edge?

The Ubuntu Edge is an open device, not locked to any particular network. It works in all countries that provide GSM/3G/LTE-based network services. It will also support the two LTE standards to provide 4G mobile broadband connectivity around the world (subject to network availability and data fees). Before launch we will conduct interoperability testing with networks in Europe, the US, South America, China, India, the Middle East and Africa. This is a normal step in the process of developing a mobile device.

Will the phone receive updates after launch?

The desktop convergence feature will come to Ubuntu phone OS in an update shortly after launch. The OS will also receive daily developer images and frequent stable releases. This is an Open Device, so users can tinker with the software and use standard flashing tools to upload custom builds. If anything goes wrong, Ubuntu OS recovery mode takes you back to the original factory image.

Why set such a high funding goal?

It’s all about scale. To offer the final product at a competitive price we need to produce enough volume to bring the unit costs down. At the same time, we want to be selecting parts that are not yet proven for multi-million-unit production. This is the balance we found. A lower funding target might seem more likely to succeed, but the individual perk amounts would have to be significantly higher. We believe this funding target and these perk levels give us the best chance of success.

What if you fail to reach the funding target?

We appreciate every bit of support we receive during the 30 days, and every backer will be welcomed into the Ubuntu community. If we don’t reach our target then we will focus only on commercially available handsets and there will not be an Ubuntu Edge. All contributions will be fully refunded.

What warranties apply to the Ubuntu Edge?

A standard manufacturer warranty will apply. If you are not happy with the product, you may return it within 28 days of receiving it for a full refund. Please note, Canonical can not cover the cost of the return postage and packaging.

I pledged at a higher level, before you introduced the new amounts. Do I lose out?

If you contributed at the $830 Ubuntu Edge or $1,400 Double Edge levels before the new perks arrived, we’ll issue you a refund of the difference once the campaign is successful. If you’re happy with the amount you contributed, you can opt out of this refund by emailing us at indiegogoinfo@canonical.com.

What if my question isn’t answered here?

We’re happy to respond to any other queries you might have about the Ubuntu Edge, the Indiegogo campaign, and our company as a whole. Email us atindiegogoinfo@canonical.com

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