We first got a real glimpse of Mozilla’s mobile platform at last year's Mobile World Congress, where the web-savvy company had worked an early iteration of their mobile operating system onto a run of the mill Samsung Galaxy S2, however come MWC 2013 and there are two devices running an ‘almost complete’ revision of the Mozilla-made mobile platform, one of which is the new ZTE Open.
There are two firsts in this instance with the ZTE Open as one of two new handsets to feature at ZTE’s booth (along with the ZTE Grand Memo), but also as the first phone on show debuting Mozilla’s Firefox OS, which should come to market in the near future.
Part of the reasoning behind Firefox OS is that it’s wholly scalable, with the entire infrastructure, including the apps, coded in HTML 5, rendering development times down dramatically as well the ability to utilise powerful web tools on lower specced hardware. The ZTE Open itself is an entry level device perfectly suited to the nature of Firefox OS.
Design wise the full plastic body is a mix of black gloss and coloured satin finish materials, with at least six vibrant colour options available on release. The front of the Open is dominated by a 3.5-inch HVGA (320x480) LCD panel, whilst the back plays host to a simple 3.2-megapixel fixed-focus snapper. Beyond the single capacitive home button, the UI is purely on-screen, with the unlock action allowing quick-launch of the camera or a simple unlock of the device. Passed the lockscreen are four main apps which by default are ‘phone’, ‘messaging’, the Firefox web browser as we’ve already come to know from Android and the camera, with a swipe to the right revealing the rest of the apps on offer.
The performance of the device varies depending on the action, with quick use causing the handset to trip up when loading more intensive apps such as the web browser. The 3G handset utilises a Qualcomm-made processor clocked at approximately 800MHz, with 256MB of RAM and 512MB of user storage built in. As you’d expect from an equivalent Android-based smartphone, ZTE have also thrown in Bluetooth 2.1, an FM radio, WiFi and GPS as well as a 1200mAh battery.
Device availability is yet to be revealed, but initially markets such as Poland, Brazil and Bulgaria will likely see the ZTE Open arrive, with primary markets such as the US and UK not likely seeing any Firefox OS-based handsets until 2014.