Mozilla Announces $25 Firefox OS Smartphone

On the eve of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Mozilla Foundation announced it was launching a $25 Firefox OS-based smartphone. Although targeted for now at emerging markets, the move could affect smartphone pricing worldwide.

On Sunday, foundation head Mitchell Baker showed a press gathering a prototype of the $25 device, with components built by chipmaker Spreadtrum Communications in Shanghai. Indonesia-based Polytron, among others, will make and market the phone. In a statement, Spreadtrum said that this low-priced model can "expand the global accessibility of open Web smartphones to first-time and entry-level smartphone buyers."

A Firefox OS reference handset for developers, called the Firefox OS Flame, was presented as a prototype of the $25 model. It offers a dual-core, 1.2-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, 4.5-inch 854x480 display, NFC, a 5-megapixel camera on the back and 2-megapixel on the front, and 3G wireless data capability.

Powerful Feature Phone

Some Mozilla-watchers have said the new, inexpensive phone is only slightly better than a feature phone in terms of capability. Spreadtrum's chips, for instance, support only 2.5G Edge mobile networks, which are not uncommon in developing countries.

In response to the criticism, Baker told the press conference to imagine that the phone was a feature phone with power, rather than an underpowered smartphone.

Mozilla also announced the launch of seven higher-end new Firefox OS smartphones, including two ZTEs with dual-core processors, the ZTE Open II and Open C, four Alcatel Firefox OS phones, and one from Huawei with a dual-core processor and an 800x400 screen. Alcatel One also plans several Touch tablets, the first tablets using Firefox OS.

The ZTE Open II model has a 480x320 screen, a dual-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and a 2-megapixel camera. The ZTE Open C features an 800x400 screen, a Snapdragon 200 and a 3-megapixel camera. Prices for these models have...

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