An entry-level Android phone costs about $100, making it a viable choice for consumers looking to save on gadgets. But with Mozilla pushing the envelope with its Firefox OS $25 smartphones, it begs the question, will you be getting what you pay for?
Twenty-five dollars for a smartphone sounds like a good thing, but is it? A phone with a cheap price just might bring you cheap features, too.
$25 for a Firefox OS Phone: Worth It?
CNET describes the Firefox OS reference phone, called Flame, as “small” and even “underpowered”. Anyone who uses a phone powered by Firefox OS is definitely going to miss the stronger features of Android. Even the entry-level Android phones will seem so much “smarter”.
Of course, there is the undeniable fact that Mozilla intended to sell the cheap device to low-end markets who simply can’t afford the costlier Android or iPhone gadget. The question then is, will the intended market want to purchase the smartphone to begin with?
Mozilla will definitely be struggling to make a profit, what with low-cost markets predictably bringing in much less returns than consumers who don’t mind spending a thousand dollars for an iPhone. But they did keep their word when they said they would develop an operating system that would pave the way for the cheapest phones in the world. That may seem like a small consolation, but it’s still one for the books.
Firefox OS Smartphones: A Rundown
To give you an idea what you get from a Firefox OS Flame, here is a summary of its specs.
- 854×480 px screen (4.5 inches)
- Front and rear cameras (2 megapixel and 5 megapixel, respectively)
- Minimum of 256-megabyte RAM, expandable to 1 Gigabyte, depending on model
- 8 Gigabyte memory
- 1.2 Gigahertz quad-core processor
- WiFi capability (802.11 b/g/n)
Mozilla also boasted of two different reference tablets for the Firefox OS: the 7-inch VIA Vixen and the 10-inch Foxconn InFocus.
Several mobile developers have adopted the Firefox OS. For instance, Alcatel has released four phones powered by the Firefox OS, from a high-end model with the same specs as Firefox OS Flame, to a much lower-end, 3.5-inch screen model.
Alcatel is also coming out with One Touch Fire 7, the very first tablet to use the Firefox OS. ZTE, a major player in Chinese mobile networks, also has two devices powered by Mozilla’s OS. Both are dual-core phones, to be sold in six different countries, including Uruguay and Venezuela.
Firefox OS $25 Smartphones: Would You Buy Them?
With the Firefox OS $25 smartphone looking like a watered-down version of more powerful “Androids and Apples”, are you tempted to make a purchase? Firefox OS actually tolerates only 2.5 EDGE connections, making them perfect for developing countries where EDGE is quite common. However, this network type is particularly sluggish for many apps to function seamlessly.
There is one upside: Even with the limited memory offered by Firefox OS devices, Mozilla found a way to compress data, allowing even 256 Mb phones the capacity to run social network and chat apps. That’s a good thing, especially with Mozilla’s target market being heavy Facebook users.
Will you spend $25 on a device that’s more of a “feature phone” than a conventional, app-supercharged smartphone? Probably not. To you and me, this phone is just not worth it, even if it is as cheap as a second-hand, ill-fitting suit. But for people living in countries that shy away from tech-related expenses, smartphones powered by Mozilla’s Firefox OS just might be exactly what they need.