Linux smartphones are everywhere. What’s updated in OTA-3?

As we already wrote, Ubuntu Touch continues to develop. This is what the Ubports team is doing. The OTA-3 Focal (over-the-air) firmware is now available. It represents the third release of Ubuntu Touch, which is based on the Ubuntu 20.04 package base.

Update is being formed for relatively large quantity models, including Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, Fairphone 3/3+ and 4, F(x)tec Pro1 X, Google Pixel 3a/3a XL, Vollaphone 22, Vollaphone X23, Vollaphone X, Vollaphone, JingPad A1, Sony Xperia X, Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC/X3, Xiaomi Redmi Note 9, 9 Pro, 9 Pro Max and 9S, Xiaomi Poco M2 Pro. Beta versions are also ready for devices such as Pine64 PinePhone, PinePhone Pro, PineTab and PineTab2. Details are under the cut.

What’s in the new firmware?

  • The most important thing is adding new devices. These are models such as Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, JingPad A1, Sony Xperia X, Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC/X3, Xiaomi Redmi Note 9, 9 Pro, 9 Pro Max and 9S. As mentioned above, assemblies are being prepared for PinePhone and PinePhone Pro, as well as the PineTab and PineTab2 tablets developed by the Pine64 project.

  • The Morph browser received a switch between mobile and desktop mode for displaying sites. There is also a new option in the settings – managing automatic loading of images. Thus, the Peekier search engine was removed, and the DuckDuckGo search engine was returned.

  • In addition, support for output to embedded screens has been added to QMir, a set of bindings for integrating the Mir display server with Qt. We are talking about connecting via the DSI interface (Display Serial Interface). The content-hub based clipboard implementation is also back.

  • It is also worth mentioning the implementation of the transition to lineageos-apndb with information about APN (Access Point Name) access points provided by mobile operators.

  • A new gpsd provider has appeared in the location-service, and the ability to call from the Lomiri shell to the D-Bus property ClientApplications to provide clients with location-service resources for updating location data has been implemented.

  • It is impossible not to mention the expansion of the capabilities of identifying access points based on the CDC-NCM and CDC-ECM protocols. Support for providing a communication channel over USB for Fairphone 4 devices has also been added.

  • Well, in the composite server, as well as in the user environment, it is possible to correctly handle such a problem as lack of memory.

Here is the complete list of supported smartphones:

  • Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 9, 9 Pro, 9 Pro Max and 9S

  • Xiaomi Poco M2 Pro

  • Fairphone 3

  • Fairphone 4

  • F(x)tec Pro1 X

  • Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL

  • Oneplus 5 and 5T

  • OnePlus 6 and 6T

  • Vollaphone and Vollaphone X

  • Vollaphone 22

  • Vollaphone X23

  • Xiaomi Mi A2

  • Xiaomi Poco M3

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 and 7 Pro

As mentioned above, the firmware can be installed on Pine64 PinePhone, PinePhone Pro, PineTab and PineTab2. But in this case we are talking about beta testing, so problems are possible. But the developers promise that everything will work.

What about supported phones?

As mentioned above, OS support has been added for several new devices. One of them – Asus ZenFone Max Pro (M1). Here are its characteristics:

  • body materials: aluminum, glass

  • operating system: Android 8.1.Oreo/9.0 Pie

  • screen: diagonal 6.0″, IPS LCD, 2,160 × 1,080 pixels, 18:9, ppi 404

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 636

  • Graphics: Adreno 509

  • RAM: 3/4 GB

  • Data storage memory: 32/64 GB

  • main camera: two modules 13 + 5 MP, HDR, panorama, 4K video recording, Full HD, LED flash

  • front camera: 8 MP, video recording 1080p

  • SIM: 2 Nano-SIM (one radio module)

  • networks: 2G, 3G, 4G

  • interfaces: Wi-Fi (no 5 GHz band[1]), Bluetooth 5.0, Android Pay (NFC), microSD up to 2 TB

  • Navigation: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou

  • additionally: face unlock, fingerprint scanner, proximity sensor, light sensor, compass, accelerometer, gyroscope

  • Battery: 5,000 mAh (fast charge in less than 3 hours)

  • Dimensions: 159 × 76 × 8.45 mm

  • weight: 180 g

  • colors: black, silver, blue

This is, to put it mildly, not the newest smartphone. So, it was first released with Android 8.1 Oreo.

There are other devices, some of which were supported previously, and some of which have been added by developers now. Among all this diversity there are some very interesting devices.

Fairphone 3

The developers call their phone, which was born in 2019, modular and secure. At the moment, the fifth model has already been released, i.e. Fairphone 5, it’s a pity that Ubuntu Touch only supports the third version.

Overall it is not bad, although the characteristics are modest:

  • display: 5.65″, resolution 2160 × 1080, color depth 24-bit, aspect ratio 18:9, Gorilla Glass 5

  • system-on-chip Qualcomm Snapdragon 632: eight CPU cores, clock speed 1.8 GHz, GPU Adreno 506 (650 MHz)

  • 4 GB RAM

  • internal memory: 64 GB, microSD expansion slot

  • cameras: 12 and 8 megapixels, the main camera has an LED flash, video recording 4k@30fps, 1,080p@60fps, 720p@60fps

  • wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5 + LE, NFC, support for various GNSS (GPS) standards

  • two nano-SIM cards, support 2G, 3G and 4G LTE (GSM only, no CDMA)

  • USB Type-C connector, sensors: fingerprint scanner, background lighting, accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor, barometer and compass

  • audio jack: 3.5 mm

  • 11.8 Wh battery

The phone scores 10 out of 10 on iFixit’s repairability scale, which says a lot. Who needs a secure device that can be repaired with just one Philips screwdriver, a smartphone is perfect for them.

Volla Phone X23

This is not an ordinary smartphone with a choice of operating system. The device is open, since the manufacturer is Hallo Welt Systeme, which specializes in the development of open source technologies.

Otherwise, it’s quite an ordinary device with a 6.1-inch screen with a resolution of 1,560 × 720 pixels and a brightness of up to 500 nits. Filling: MediaTek Helio G99 processor, 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB expandable storage. There are also a 48 megapixel main camera, a 5,000 mAh battery with support for 30-watt wired and 15-watt wireless charging, as well as NFC and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The dimensions of the smartphone are 160.9 × 80 × 12.2 mm. By the way, its battery is removable.

F(x)tec Pro1-X

Great phone with a physical keyboard and Linux. The device was originally compatible with Ubuntu Touch, but it also supports LineageOS. Here are the characteristics of the device:

  • hardware keyboard with 66 buttons arranged in 5 rows

  • screen: AMOLED touchscreen with a diagonal of 5.99 inches and a resolution of 2,160 × 1,080, the display is covered with the fourth generation of Gorilla Glass

  • communication modules: Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC

  • ports: USB-C with HDMI support

  • cameras: 12 and 5 megapixels – rear plus 8 megapixels – front

  • fingerprint sensor on one side

  • Battery: 2,300 mAh with support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0

  • There are two slots for two SIM. They can be used to install SIM and microSD cards

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 662

According to the developers, the screen supports simultaneous work with two applications, which share the usable space. You can also use Android applications that run using Libertine.

The price of the device is about $800.

What’s the result?

As far as one can judge, the Ubuntu Touch project not only did not die after the original manufacturer stopped supporting it, but continues to develop. Every few months a new version is released that is more functional than the previous one. In addition, manufacturers add new smartphone models to new versions. Not a hundred at once, but the main thing is that they add.

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