The latest Ubuntu smartphone shows the OS has mobile potential, especially when combined with good hardware. Still, a meagre choice of apps make Android and iOS better choices for consumers and businesses alike.
Great value hardware, large and sharp display, Scopes are a fine alternative to individual apps
Very few essential apps, video devours battery, camera isn't as impressive as a 20.7MP model should be
Processor: Octa-core MediaTek MT6595 (Meizu customised version) - four 2.2GHz cores, four 1.7GHz cores
Display: 5.4in, 1920x1152 resolution, LCD capacitive touchscreen
Storage: 16GB (not expandable)
Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, 4G, LTE
Operating system: Ubuntu Touch
Battery: 3100mAh lithium-ion polymer (non-removable)
The Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition is in the unenviable position of needing to prove itself on two fronts. This is, after all, only the third Ubuntu smartphone to hit the market, as well as being the highest-spec model yet.
Canonical, which famously failed to crowdfund its own Ubuntu Edge phone two years ago, will thus have high hopes for its success.
Meizu might be feeling similarly anxious, as this is its first major release in Europe, having previously focused on producing smartphones for the firm's home nation of China.
Put simply, it's a Meizu MX4 - a mid-range device released in September 2014 in China only - with the original Android OS swapped out for the fledgling Ubuntu Touch.
Now that orders are open for the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition, albeit exclusively through an invitation system, it's time to see whether Canonical and Meizu's collaboration is fit for our pockets.
The Silver Edge variant we were provided features a white plastic back cover, strips of aluminium-magnesium alloy around the edges and a front panel covered in Gorilla Glass 3.
The metal edges combine a nice matte feel with an incredible toughness, making the plastic backing seem a bit cheap by comparison.
Oddly enough, there's also a gold-coloured version, which features a back cover made from the same alloy as the edges, suggesting that the use of glossy plastic on the Silver Edge model is a styling choice - albeit not one we necessarily agree with, given the quality of the alloy.
Still, we found the MX4 Ubuntu Edition solid and durable overall. It's comfortable too, with an ergonomic curved back and a good size-to-weight ratio; at 147g, it's quite light for a device that measures 144x75.2x8.9mm.
There are thinner and lighter phones out there, but it's still fairly easy to forget it's in your pocket. Unless, that is, you've just stopped using it, in which case it will be the unmistakable source of a rather disconcerting heat.
The MX4 Ubuntu Edition gets very warm, very fast, even during low-demand tasks. This didn't seem adversely to affect performance, but we definitely weren't keen on the phone's tendency to become hot to the touch after a few minutes' use.
The ultra-minimalism of the phone's design presents further problems. The lack of visible ports makes the MX4 Ubuntu Edition look thoroughly modern, but it has the old-fashioned - and rather tedious - quirk of hiding the SIM slot behind a fiddly removable back cover.
There's no SD card slot at all, leaving only the microUSB port, headphone jack, lock button, volume rocker and home button dotted around the device. These are all fine for control and connectivity purposes, but removable storage is a glaring omission.
The design has its problems, but we can't fault the LCD display. It's a generous 5.4in diagonally with a resolution of 1920x1142, resulting in an impressive 418ppi, a higher pixel density than the similarly-sized iPhone 6 Plus.
As such, everything on-screen looks sharp and detailed, with a high contrast ratio of 1100:1 ensuring attractively rich colours and rarely oversaturating them.
Despite a reflective screen, even the default brightness is high enough that we could use the MX4 Ubuntu Edition in the summer sun. The exception was the main dropdown settings menu; this uses grey text on a black background, which was difficult to make out even in the shade.
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