ZTE Open, the first Firefox OS phone, launches tomorrow for $90, but will it be a threat to Android?

by: Robert TriggsJuly 1, 2013

ZTE Open

We’ve known for a while that Mozilla’s Firefox OS phones were going to be quite cheap, but €69 is unbelievably inexpensive. This puts the cost of a new ZTE Open at around just $99 or £59 for US and UK consumers, give or take a little based on exchange rates.

The ZTE Open will launch in Spain tomorrow, and will be available from Telefonica for the price listed above. To sweeten the deal, the already exceptionally cheap price will also include €30 worth of pay as you go credit. Alternatively, the handset will also be available on a contract with Telefonica, which will cost just €2.38 a month.

For your money you’ll receive a smartphone with a 3.5 inch display (480×320 pixels), 256MB of RAM, 512MB of built in storage, a 1.0 GHz Cortex-A5 processor, 3.2 megapixel camera, 2G and 3G network support, and the handset will also come bundled with a 4GB microSD card for additional storage. So, the ZTE Open is not at all bad, considering the price, but it’s definitely not in the same league as most Android handsets.

Does this pose a threat to Android?

Well not really, as obviously the price points are targeted at very different markets. In fact, Mozilla have even stated that they’re trying to solve problems ignored by the current smartphone platforms, rather than trying to replace them.

Looking at the handset itself, even considerably cheap Android smartphones, like the original Galaxy Ace for example, will still set you back closer to double the price, somewhere around €130, and offer more in the way of hardware specs. Firefox OS devices really are the bare minimum to be classed as a smartphone; they are not designed to compete with the typical Android user’s handset.

But that isn’t to say that it’s a bad product, or that it won’t give budget orientated customers something to think about when choosing a new handset. It’s true that Android owns a share of the budget market, the Vodafone Smart Mini handset is an example of a very cheap smartphone which runs Android, and it costs about the same as the ZTE Open, around £50. But this class of handset makes up such a small portion of the Android portfolio that I doubt many manufactures are going to lose much sleep worrying about this market segment.

Now in emerging and heavily budget orientated markets, Firefox OS could capture a much larger portion of the market. The low price point, cheaper data usage, and full internet connectivity could really hit a chord with consumers, especially if the handsets cost less than their Android counterparts. But really it’s quite hard to predict how this will all play out, we’ll have to wait for some sales statistics in the coming months.

Overall, Firefox OS gives you everything you need to stay connected to the internet on the go, without the premium price tag, which is certainly a good thing for consumers. We’ll be watching with interest to see how this fledgling operating system turns out.

  • Cristi

    Another facebook phone. People, please use your skills to write great apps (for Android and ios), don’t waste your time writing another os with 0 chance of adoption. The same is true for SailFish, Beda, etc.

    • APai

      if the premise is for choice with android in HW/SW. let others try and duke it out. it’s not like android has any lack of programmers or it has dearth of applications. I’d say sailfish & FFos have a nice and open structure.

      another important reason – people who want NSA free phones will vote for open platforms that are REALLY open, not with backdoors

      • QuanahHarjo

        Anything that connects to a cellular network has a “backdoor”, the network itself. NSA-free in the USA is a joke until the NSA itself is changed.

        • APai

          yeah, it’s a bit confusing, what I meant was the NSA-cabal – microsoft/ skype/ google/ apple, etc.

          NSA has only themselves to blame – if you treat everyone as terrorists, they will treat NSA as terrorists. that’s happening now. NSA terror is spooking people around the world.

      • Cristi

        When android was released the market was not over-saturated like now. There are at least 3 established mobile OS-es now: ios, android and windows is coming. And look at the marketing money M$ is spending with so little effect. If anyone thinks that something becomes popular in our society by being great……. Money alone makes or brakes a “innovation” these day.

    • 0 change of adoption? Didn’t the people say the same thing about Android? :) It is for a different market than Android and iOS. This kind of phone is for me who doesn’t have a lot of money for the not so cheap Android phones.

    • reels

      wow, seems you assume that Android & iOS are perfect.
      when people feels perfect, it will no longer improve.

      competition is good because it force people to improve & do better.

    • Srivallabh

      See,the main purpose of the the Firefox guys to release a new operating system is not replace android or Ios or windows,they’re just making amends with respect to problems,features that are not present in the current world of smartphones,no matter which version they have running in the market.
      Moreover Ios and windows is not open source,you cant really have the device working for you.
      You’d just be abiding by the protocols those guys have specified(#might be good) but at the end of the day,it would feel great if you knew you can custom modify your operating system..

  • Piyush

    Sorry to tell if you are on tight budget don’t buy android because of lags and no updates for phone you have a good option wp8 devices like 520 its good in performance and hardware too and dirt cheap its becoming famous in India. but there is downside yeah, lack of app that’s main problem but you will get all general 90% app like Facebook , whats-app , Netflix , etc.

  • briankariu

    I can see this giving people an option, especially in 3rd world countries. Especially Kenya

  • Rockwell mellow

    You would be better off getting this than a comparable android phone as this is made for low end phones but android lags like a mother trucker on them ( also cheap android phones probably wouldnt get software updates)