Hands on with an Ubuntu Phone at CES 2013

Be jelly, bro. Chris got to play with an Ubuntu phone here at CES 2013. The entire trip was made possible by our friends at AMD. He has to thank them a thousand times over. The entire experience has been incredible for Chris and Diana so far. They’ve gotten to meet and hang out with amazing people, see seriously awesome technology and, well, play with the Ubuntu phone we’ve all been waiting to see.

The welcome screen on this device is very clean and simple to navigate. It gives clear visual indications of the types and number of messages that you would have at any point in time. The wallpaper isn’t static — it’s dynamic and constantly changes depending on notifications on the phone. The biggest and most important thing to note about this device is that it’s not just a phone — it’s an entire computer in the palm of your hand.

As you would expect, every aspect of this phone is highly customizable. Use appears to be intuitive and just so much nicer than many of the interfaces I’ve used in the past. I admit it: I’m an iPhone fan. I adore my device. But this — this is something I could completely embrace. What I wouldn’t give to get my hands on one to test and play with!

Hands on with an Ubuntu Phone at CES 2013The Ubuntu phone uses natural swipe gestures from any screen edge to make it easier to access your content or switch from app to app. All edges of the phone are used. This makes it a lot faster to change what your focus in a nanosecond. A short swipe from the left will reveal your favorite apps. There’s room there for everything your heart desires and it’s all available from the home screen or from within any application.

A full left-to-right swipe will unveil a screen that shows all apps currently open while a swipe from the right brings you to the last app you had been using! Page left or right from the home screen to find the content you consume most often. Swiping up from the bottom brings you to the app controls. Hide or reveal them instantly… they won’t take up room on your screen. This frees you up to actually focus on things instead of being distracted by a gazillion icons.

Probably the coolest part of the Ubuntu phone is the fact that it can work on any type of hardware. The operating system provides a fast and gorgeous experience — no matter whether your parts are cheap or high-end. There’s no waste in having a Java virtual machine so all of the core applications run at full speeds with tiny little footprints left in memory. This is great news for inexpensive devices. When paired with a high-end smartphone, Ubuntu may just pave the way for a whole new level of phone by making an entire PC desktop available simply by docking the device to a monitor and keyboard. Seriously. This, to me, is the future of personal computing: all mobile, all of the time.

After taking a look at what Ubuntu has in store for the future of phones, are you salivating? Will you be grabbing one of these devices when they hit the market?