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When a phone is released only to a select few enthusiasts, you wonder whether or not the hype is genuinely worth it. And when that phone is running Ubuntu, a mobile operating system that is yet to take the mobile world by storm (despite many promises from developers Canonical) you begin to suspect that these devices probably aren’t going to be worth the investment.

We’ve got a Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition smartphone to giveaway to one lucky MakeUseOf reader.

Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition Giveaway

So is the phone worth it? Let’s find out…

Why an Ubuntu Smartphone?

Before we go on, you might want to give a bit of thought to whether a smartphone powered by Ubuntu is really something that you want – especially when there is an Android variant of the same phone with the Flyme5 UI on top.

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However, the Ubuntu edition is a smartphone that comes with its own set of advantages. For a start off, it’s the first mobile device that can be synced natively to any Linux distribution (Ubuntu, naturally). This in itself is a bit of a triumph.

But there’s another reason: a great cause. Windows Phone/Mobile 10 has more or less failed MakeUseOf Says Goodbye To Windows Phone MakeUseOf Says Goodbye To Windows Phone This is going to be a tearful goodbye, buddy, but it has to happen. MakeUseOf will soon be parting ways with Windows Phone. Read More . Android and iOS stand proud as the great bastions of smartphone operating systems. If you’ve found yourself dissatisfied with either or both, then perhaps you’ve mulled over the idea of whether a Linux-powered smartphone (genuine Linux, not the Android variety) is a viable alternative.

muo-reviews-meizu-ubuntu-home

Along with BQ and Aquaris, Meizu are at the forefront of development of Ubuntu Touch/Ubuntu Phone devices, and while India and China are the territories currently being targeted (where Ubuntu and other Linux operating systems are more widely used), Meizu’s Pro5 Ubuntu Edition is now on sale in the USA and European Union.

So, if you’re looking for some Linux flavored simplicity and a new approach to smartphone UIs, an Ubuntu smartphone might be your next move…

What’s Inside the Meizu Pro5 Ubuntu Edition?

In a world of high end Android and iPhones, an Ubuntu Phone device needs to have a few hardware advantages to get attention. Given that the Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition is also available as an Android device; it should come as no surprise that both devices are equipped with the same hardware.

But what’s inside?

muo-reviews-meizu-ubuntu-lens

Well for starters, you’ve got 32GB of internal storage, 3GB RAM, and an 8-core Exynos 7420 processor and MALI T760 GPU. The 168g device sits at 156.7 x 78 x 7.5mm, with a 5.7 inch 1080p AMOLED screen, protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

On the right-hand edge of the impressive unibody design are three hardware buttons: power, volume up and volume down. Meanwhile, on the left, the expansion door, where you’ll find slots for two micro-SIM cards (or a micro-SIM plus microSD card), which allow the phone to be used across multiple networks — useful if you’re travelling through different territories.

Meanwhile, Bluetooth, NFC, wireless networking, GPS and all of the usual connectivity options are present. It’s worth reporting that the OS was unable to detect my correct location even with the Wi-Fi/mobile option selected in place of GPS (it was out by around 150 miles!) but this is likely a software bug, rather than the hardware.

What About the OS?

The Ubuntu Phone operating system is pretty much an unknown quantity at this point. It comes with all of the tools you would expect to find natively: settings, an update tool, reset etc., calendar, messaging and email support, as well as a couple of well-known apps (Facebook, eBay, Twitter), and media playback (see below).

muo-reviews-meizu-ubuntu-notifications

The main Ubuntu Unity menu bar 3 Dead-Wrong, Yet Common Complaints About Unity & Ubuntu 3 Dead-Wrong, Yet Common Complaints About Unity & Ubuntu Do you hate Ubuntu's new interface, Unity? Do you think Ubuntu is making a huge mistake by changing things, and will inevitably crash and burn because of this? There are good reasons to dislike Unity... Read More is opened by swiping in from the left, or pressing the home button (on Android devices, this has thumbprint reader abilities, but this is currently not available on Ubuntu Phone). The information presented on what would otherwise be a “Home” screen in fact feels more like an app, which is swiped through. Here you find Scopes, each focusing on relevant calendar, date, time and weather information at first, while apps, popular music and video and your photos can be found by swiping back and forth.

It can take a while to get used to, but the simplicity of having your apps listed in the same place as your calendar updates and so forth is quite refreshing. As a shortcut, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to quickly find an app to switch to, while the notification area displays everything you would expect. Swiping from the right edge, meanwhile, displays the open apps; simply browse between them to switch, and swipe upwards to close.

Data can be easily copied from the phone using a USB Type-C data cable connect to your computer, like any standard USB storage device.

Are There Any Apps and Games?

Mobile platforms, rightly or wrongly, live and die on the quality of their apps and games. As mentioned, several popular apps are included in the OS, and support for others is also provided via integrated login (such as Instagram).

muo-reviews-meizu-ubuntu-store

New apps can be found in the Ubuntu Store, where tools as useful as flashlights, two factor authenticators, and even a Terminal can be found. Organization of the store need development though – it’s hard to filter apps based on their type, for instance. Games are available – mostly puzzles – but a few popular options are there, such as Cut the Rope (which you can play on other devices, even in your browser Play Cut The Rope On Any Browser For Free, Courtesy Of Microsoft [News] Play Cut The Rope On Any Browser For Free, Courtesy Of Microsoft [News] Good news Cut the Rope fans! You are no longer limited to playing your favorite game on your mobile device. Microsoft, together with ZeptoLab and Pixel Lab, has created an HTML5 version of of the... Read More ).

There’s certainly enough to keep you entertained and use your phone as a new tool. In many ways, the selection of apps feels like the early days of Android; in less optimistic terms, it also feels a little like WebOS So You Bought A TouchPad: 5 Uses For Your "Dead" Tablet PC So You Bought A TouchPad: 5 Uses For Your "Dead" Tablet PC The dust has settled and by now you should either be bitterly disappointed or overjoyed at the bargain you just snagged. If you were lucky enough to grab yourself a firesale HP TouchPad or are... Read More

Media Playback and Camera

As you would expect, the Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition ships with front-facing 5 MP and immense 21 MP rear cameras, with a Sony sensor chipping in to make your captures even better. Sadly, while the hardware is good for snapping, the editing software needs some work, although with a new mobile platform that might not come as a surprise.

The following shots show results from the Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition compared with the Sony Xperia Z5 Sony Xperia Z5 Review & Giveaway Sony Xperia Z5 Review & Giveaway You're looking for a new phone. Something reasonably powerful, big screen, great sound. A handset to blow your iPhone loving friends out of the water. The Sony Xperia Z5 might just be it. Read More :

muo-reviews-meizu-ubuntu-photo-comparison

As you can see, there is a bit more color in the Meizu snap. Both photos were taken within seconds of each other on a sunny day at Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

Media playback, meanwhile, is possible via the videos section of the Home screen, where your own videos and trending YouTube videos can be enjoyed on the device’s full HD 1920x1080p display. It’s a crisp picture, too, but videos recorded on the device don’t tend to be as impressive as the photos (there’s some sample footage in the video review).

Convergence? What Convergence?!

Much has been made of the Convergence feature, Ubuntu’s answer to Microsoft’s Continuum (found in the recently-reviewed Lumia 950 Microsoft Lumia 950 Review and Giveaway Microsoft Lumia 950 Review and Giveaway This could be Microsoft's final flagship phone. With many declaring Windows 10 Mobile dead on arrival, just what is the point of the Lumia 950? Read More ). It’s essentially support for hardware that enables you to turn the phone into a desktop computer, with the addition of a keyboard, mouse, and display.

muo-reviews-meizu-ubuntu-settings

While Bluetooth is supported, the Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition doesn’t ship with a HDMI port, and the USB Type-C port doesn’t seem to be adequate at this stage for an adaptor. What this means is that one of the main selling points of Ubuntu Touch is unavailable in the most anticipated device since the OS launched.

That’s a poor showing, whichever way you look at it.

How Does the Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition Benchmark?

Benchmarking the Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition is a bit tricky, thanks to the shortage of satisfactory testing software. As a result, any such assessment can only be based on usage.

muo-reviews-meizu-ubuntu-game

For a device that shares a processor (the Exynos 7420 processor) with one of the top phones on the market (the Samsung Galaxy S6), the Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition feels lackluster. Perhaps this is down to the inclusion of just 3 GB of RAM instead of the usual 4 GB? Software stability issues mitigate this, with basic games such as Cut the Rope proving buggy, laggy, and ultimately crashing.

Not an ideal mobile gaming experience!

Additionally, while the new gestures can take a bit of time to learn, the OS doesn’t seem to be quite quick enough to pick them up in many cases. When you’re feeling your way through a new user interface, this is far from ideal. On the other hand, battery life is good, offering around 30 hours per charge with average use.

Has Ubuntu’s Time Come in the Mobile Space?

A new operating system on any popular device will take time to take hold. Realistically, outside of the target markets in China and India, Ubuntu Phone has little chance of surpassing even Blackberry and Windows Phone/Mobile 10, never mind Android and iOS.

muo-reviews-meizu-ubuntu-emails

Ubuntu Phone has its strengths; it has some failings, too. But the Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition is a solid piece of hardware that should appeal to any Ubuntu desktop user and smartphone owners disillusioned with the way things are going with iOS and Android. If Convergence can be brought into the mix on this device, and app stability issues addressed, the Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition could prove an attractive alternative to the marketplace-focused worlds of iOS and Android.

Retailing at $369.99, the Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition is available to buy now. Or you could win one.

Our verdict of the Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition:
A quick phone with a superb camera, let down by a challenging operating system that’s short on apps. Remember, there is an Android model if you prefer.
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  1. Wanda Tracey
    June 4, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    Thank you for the awesome contest and chance to win.
    I would love to have this phone!! :)

  2. Wanda Tracey
    June 4, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    Thank you for the awesome contest and chance to win.I would love to have this phone!! :)

  3. EucliDaGret
    June 4, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    I really NEED a phone... ???

  4. Marco
    May 27, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    One question though!
    I've seen or read something about it being extra slaggy on opening/starting an app for the first time! Is it truly so?
    or its just some Pro-Android/iOS people trashing it down for no good reason?
    thanks

  5. Cristopher Ablanque
    May 26, 2016 at 7:06 am

    This is awesome, i want a magic to win!!!

  6. Michael Gene Muldoon
    May 25, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    I would love a chance to win this but.... I do not see anywhere to sign up!! I have noticed this on everything that I read for review and giveaway. I see the review. I read the review. But I see nothing as to actually signing up for a chance at a giveaway. Eh???

    • Christian Cawley
      May 25, 2016 at 6:30 pm

      The entry tool is at the top of the page, a few lines below the title.

  7. Kieran Colfer
    May 25, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Unless the Meizu 5 is a quantum leap over the 4 in terms of both software and hardware quality, this is still just an expensive toy. I bought the 4 and after 3 months of trying very very hard to like it, I got rid of it. The software was laggy as hell and up as far as last november had some serious bugs in basic functionality (copy/paste between apps didn't work, for example!) The picture quality was good, if you could wait the 20secs for the phone to start up, focus, and let you take the shot without the camera app freezing. As for "apps", very quickly you realise that 75% of the "apps" in the ubuntu store are just webapp containers for the mobile sites of whatever the app was (the facebook "app" was just m.facebook.com for example).

    And for those thinking "woohoo, linux on a phone, freedom!", it is just as much of a walled garden as android. If you install the terminal and get to the shell, you don't have root access, and / is mounted read-only so you can't install anything, the only way to add new s/w is through the ubuntu store. If you remount as rw, you break app/OS updates until it's mounted ro again.

    So, it would be nice to win one to play with it a bit, but if you're looking for a replacement for your current android/iOS phone, keep looking.

  8. Adrian G
    May 25, 2016 at 3:49 am

    I hope i'm not the only one here who mentally associates Linux with Linus from Linus Tech Tips :D

  9. Amanuel
    May 24, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Thanks for the nice review you did. I'm using ubuntu since I bought my first laptop. I have to try this also....

  10. Andy
    May 24, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Nice review. I may buy one of these just to play with. But I wanted to make one note. There is no such thing as "genuine linux". All linux distributions are "varieties" and all have their differences. An Android phone is just another linux device with another linux distribution, not some kind of "not genuine" linux (that reminds me of Windows "genuine" crap, shudder)

    I know, it's probably pedantry, but it's important people realize there's no "genuine" or "core" linux, that means alll other varieties are just copies or knockoffs of some kind. If it's based on linux, it's "genuine".

    There's a lot of confusion on this with people coming from the proprietary world.

    Thanks for a good review!

  11. Surya Sai
    May 24, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Coool..... :) Features of the phone are amazing.... Thnx "Make use of" for ur contest.. :) ;)

  12. Helena Oops
    May 24, 2016 at 7:07 am

    Great review and giveaway!thanks for the opportunity!
    But can t see clearly the code in the video review..
    Have been watching the video at least 4 times.

  13. Caffeinedependent
    May 24, 2016 at 2:55 am

    There is currently a big "window" of opportunity for Linux and, more specifically, for Ubuntu. I hope that they can sort out the issues with this handset and also introduce more products to finally present a serious challenge to the big players.

    PS: The phrase "Software stability issues mitigate this" in the review doesn't make sense. I think you mean "corroborate".

  14. Tom
    May 24, 2016 at 2:26 am

    Sounds cool would love to try one....

  15. Jim Van Damme
    May 24, 2016 at 2:23 am

    I like Ubuntu much more than Android... but want a cheaper phone.

  16. Edmond
    May 24, 2016 at 2:08 am

    Thank you for the awesomeness, the contest, and generosity. :)

  17. WhoCares
    May 24, 2016 at 12:59 am

    Looks great! But the Cost?
    Pass.

  18. ron
    May 24, 2016 at 12:40 am

    Sound like a fine tool

  19. John Sarette
    May 23, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Just ditched the landline, need a backup cellphone. How do I try to win this one?

  20. Mitu
    May 23, 2016 at 11:14 am

    As far as I know the convergence feature is planned for the Pro 5. As USB Type C cannot handle it, the developers are working on enabling Aethercast handle the Convergence feature wirelessly.

    • Christian Cawley
      May 23, 2016 at 11:58 am

      Thanks for sharing that, Mitu!

  21. Graywolf
    May 23, 2016 at 4:28 am

    Looks really nice and I love Ubuntu - Hopping to win it

  22. Filippo
    May 22, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    I'd like to Win this phone ?

  23. Joshua Horner
    May 22, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    I would lkke to enter the contest it I don't see anywhere entry form or anything of the like, good review though. I would love to have this phone, been using Ubuntu fr over ten years.

  24. William Peckham
    May 22, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    I can always use a free phone that does email and 'cut the rope' even if slow.

  25. Vishal Giri
    May 21, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    hope to win!!

  26. Shawn Rosvold
    May 21, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    I have an older model Meizu Android and I love it. I would give the old one to my brother (who still uses a flip phone) and fire up the Ubuntu.

  27. abdullahayubkh
    May 21, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Hoping to win then.

  28. Wolfgang Post
    May 21, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Great review, thank you. It's the first of its kind that's not written from the "wether you're with us or against us" point of view. I was to make a decision recently, but experience from 3 years of Ubuntu touch on my Nexus 4 made me go for a Nexus 5x with Android as my primary everyday device. I simply lost hope that Ubuntu Touch will ever be competitive - and I'm not talking about availability of Apps. After all these years it's still buggy and far from running smoothly. But hey, I'm young, I can wait :-)

  29. DanijelC
    May 20, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    Great phone for ubuntu and / or linux users. It would be great to explain how the give away works too.

  30. solozzo soprano
    May 20, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    i want to win this amazing phone!!! thanks again for this opportunity!!

  31. Rahul
    May 20, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Very nice yaar features are quite good I love to get this phone...

  32. Chloe
    May 20, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    The OS is going through a lot of changes still, this month there’s bug fixes, there’s going to be some speed ups, the scopes are going to be re imagined over the next 6 months, notifications are going to be improved, there’s going to be an update to the messenger app to make it an all in one.

    That wont push it much closer to being a competitor though, because of apps, we still need a lot of apps even if the OS is amazing, and thats always going to be the downfall of the phone if we cant change it.

    I hear developing for Ubuntu is the easiest, and with convergence it seems like its going to be more interesting to develop for both desktop and phone, I am interested to see where it goes, Ubuntu on the Phone cant fail like some others as if the phone isn't picked up, any change made on the desktop or a lot of apps made for desktop, will automatically come to the phone.

  33. Assia Sami
    May 20, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    Which code we have to enter plz explain

  34. dragonbite
    May 20, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Great article! I'm so glad to see more and more press about Ubuntu mobile!

    The phone sounds like it lags a little behind Android, but considering the development stage for Ubuntu mobile and the maturity and popularity of Android, it sounds like it is really coming along!

    I'm still trying to get the Ubuntu SDK installed on my laptop and try writing something up for it. (Winning the phone would give me more incentive! :) )

    Good luck everybody!

  35. Mourad
    May 20, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    how do i win one ubuntu phone?

  36. chr
    May 20, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    how do i win one ubuntu phone?

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