The Mobile World Congress 2013 or MWC is on in full swing at Barcelona, and so is ZTE, the Taiwanese giant who has already announced a series of mid-range and high-end devices for its 2013 portfolio. All of the devices that ZTE has announced so far as all Android based, duh, and to mix things up a bit, ZTE has also announced the ZTE Open, the first official Firefox-OS based smartphone. Looks like ZTE is making a habit of firsts – with its ZTE Grand Memo being the first Snapdragon 800 processor based handset, and now the ZTE Open being the first Firefox-OS based device.
ZTE says that Firefox OS will play an important role in its quest to become one of the top three mobile brands by 2015, the ZTE Open being its first device to run the new OS. The device will be launched worldwide during the course of this year, starting out with Colombia, Spain and Venezuela this summer.
The typical thing to do when a new device is launched is to look at the specs sheet, to get a feel of whether it is a high-end or a budget device. With Firefox OS though, it doesn’t really matter, since the OS is designed to run equally well on lower-end phones too. Given the kind of stuff that is available in the market these days, the ZTE Open would certainly fall into the low-end or entry-level category as far as the specs go.
Specs wise, like I mentioned earlier, there’s not much to speak of. The Open features a 3.5″ HVGA display (480 x 320), and the device is powered by a 1GHz Cortex A5 processor, 256MB RAM, 512MB of internal storage, a 3.2-megapixel rear camera, Bluetooth, A-GPS and Wi-Fi capabilities, and a 1200 mAh battery. Nothing too impressive, till you consider ZTE’s approach is to convert feature phone users to the new OS-based phone. While the Grand Memo is what can be called a high-end device, meant for users with some amount of smartphone experience, the ZTE Open is essentially a device for users with may only have feature phone experience to start with, and is targeted towards making the transition to a smartphone easier.
That said, the Open is expected to come at a pretty low and affordable price point, possibly sub-$175 or even lower as mentioned by Mozilla. The OS features a set of standard apps which are all HTML5 based – Twitter, Bing, Pinterest, Wikipedia and Facebook. Mozilla states that it will be easier for developers to adapt web apps for the mobile platform. The home screen is pretty clean, and features Phone, Messaging, Browser and Camera button shortcuts. Swiping from the right lets you get to the App drawer. Here are a few pics of the actual device:
Firefox OS is still in an infancy stage before it can take on the might of Android. But what Mozilla and OEMs like ZTE have in mind for the OS seems pretty – budget friendly handsets for developing markets to tap into that huge base of feature phone or dumbphone users. It would be interesting to see how Firefox OS shapes up through this year.