Telefónica claims EU first with launch of Cyanogen OS smartphone

Telefónica said it is Europe's first operator to launch a smartphone running the Cyanogen operating system (OS), a variant of Google's Android OS designed to offer users more customisation and privacy options.

The operator launched the Aquaris X5 on its domestic Movistar mobile network priced at €209 ($225) and confirmed it would launch the device in the UK in December, with Germany also in line to receive the unit around the same time. Telefónica said it would then deploy the smartphone in its other markets through 2016.

Spain-based device maker BQ produced the 5-inch smartphone, which runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 412 processor, offers 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal memory, and features a 13 megapixel camera on the rear and a 5 megapixel version on the front. Telefónica said battery life is longer than smartphones with similar specifications due to OS optimisation and the use of low-power components.

In a statement, Telefónica explained that Cyanogen OS offers a more customisable user interface than mainstream Android devices, along with higher levels of privacy and security.

On the Aquaris X5, a feature named Privacy Guard allows users to dictate what personal data is shared with third parties, and the device also features a PIN scrambling function and the ability to password protect applications. The OS remains compatible with Google's Play app store.

The device runs version 12.1 of the Cyanogen OS, which is based on Android 5.1.1 -- also named Lollipop -- TechCrunch reported.

The launch of the Aquaris X5 follows a series C investment into Cyanogen by Telefónica Ventures, one of the company's investment vehicles. The company's three investment rounds have raised a total of $115 million (€106 million) to date from companies including Qualcomm and Foxconn, TechCrunch noted.

A related statement from O2 UK explains that BQ was founded in 2010 and today produces the third best-selling smartphone in Spain and Portugal.

For more:
- see this Telefónica announcement (PDF)
- read this related O2 UK statement
- view this TechCrunch article

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