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

July 1, 2013
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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.

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