Ubuntu Phone in 2019

Running Ubuntu Touch on my Fairphone 2, been running it as a daily driver since 5th of April 2019 and today is 21st of April. Ubports (https://ubports.com/) are the ones that took over the development of this operating system from Canonical, the people who develop the popular Ubuntu desktop and server operating system. When I first tried this operating system on a OnePlus One test phone one and a half year ago, it was still completely unusable. Today this is not the case anymore, if then it where to have been classified as bleeding edge, today I would classify it as being in a beta stage, with some bugs still around but still being usable.

I got my Fairphone from https://vireo.de for 399€ with 15€ in shipping cost from Germany to Finland, took about a week.

The Installer

I grabbed the installer for installing Ubuntu Touch from here, https://ubuntu-touch.io/get-ut

I followed this process on my Ubuntu desktop in order to install Ubuntu Touch, as shown in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuLFTGkuD68

It took me roughly 10 minutes to install Ubuntu Touch, the installer worked very independently and didn’t require any complicated stuff.

Swiping

Basically everything on Ubuntu touch works by swiping from all corners, in order to do stuff. It’s not like Android where you the 3 buttons on the bottom of the phone. I really like this now when I’ve gotten used to it, while at first I found it slightly annoying. Right now, when I try to switch apps on my old Android phone, I find my self swiping from the right edge, instead of switching apps, I end up accidentally removing a browser tab or something.

App support

Well, it should be obvious that a OS project like this doesn’t offer millions of apps, like on Android. Instead it offers the essentials and an app store called OpenStore. The Netflix web-app didn’t work unfortunately. HBO Nordic didn’t either work from the browser. However, to my surprise Yle Areena did work via the browser, I use YLE to watch news and documentaries, since their selection of those topics are better than the previous two. YouTube works, but that’s not a surprise.

Haven’t tried a lot more apps, since I run a Nextcloud instance, from where I can check my e-mail, calendar, radio, stream music and so on. Ubuntu Phone is actually a perfect fit for someone wanting to run his/her own cloud service in parallel, in a way it even feels more natural running Nextcloud from an Ubuntu phone. Because your most likely to use the web browser or one of the apps, meaning your probably going to use one portal to access your cloud. On Android I used the Nextcloud app, a different e-mail app and then the android web browser for the rest of it. So I had to jump between lots’ of apps to interact with the cloud, while now I’m using one place, one app.

One gripe that I do have here is that apps rarely stay awake when you shut the screen. Many times I find myself wanting to stream music from the web browser, but have to leave the screen on in order to stream. Same with the YouTube app I’m using. This is probably my second biggest gripe.

I’ve heard from other people that not every app may work flawlessly, even though I haven’t used that many apps, due to my particular workflow. While I have also heard positive feed back from others, especially people who do not require lots of apps. I have to however say that this is improving constantly.

Connectivity

I managed to successfully connect my Bluetooth headset, to my surprise it WORKED!! I have had trouble with Bluetooth headsets before on desktop Linux, with it not always working, this was one of my biggest surprise. WiFi works as well flawlessly. Don’t really have any gripes here.

Battery life

The biggest minus is actually the battery life, whish is Fairphones fault mostly, rather than Ubports. I am used to running a phone with 4000+ mAh batteries. In other words the 2420 mAh battery is in-adequate for a power user like me who constantly are running something on the phone. So you need to carry a battery pack. However, I experienced this same problem while running Android before wiping it out, in favor of Ubuntu Touch.

Summary

Overall, I’m currently happy using this as a daily driver, I can do everything I want on this phone. However, I would really like the devs to allow the web browser to stay on even when the screen closes, same with the YouTube app. I usually have long commutes so the screen constantly being on in my pocket just wastes battery life. Which brings me to my second gripe, battery life on the Fairphone 2, if you don’t want to carry a battery pack or charger with you but you want Ubuntu phone, then you should consider one of the other supported phones from Ubports.

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