ZTE Firefox OS smartphone available globally for $80

ZTE Firefox OS smartphone available globally for $80

Summary: In an attempted preemptive strike on other would be number three smartphone OS makers, Firefox and ZTE has partnered up to bring an $80 Firefox OS, unlocked smartphone to all users everywhere via eBay.


No one doubts that Android is the number one smartphone operating system and that Apple's iOS is number two. The real question is "Who will be number three?"

Would you buy a smartphone over eBay? What if I told you it was the new unlocked ZTE Open with Firefox OS for a mere 80 dollars?

Windows Phone is moving up; Blackberry is imploding; and, the Linux-based Ubuntu and Firefox want to be in the mix as well.

What's a would-be number three smartphone operating system to stand out from the pack? Well, Ubuntu has proposed a do-it-all, crowd-sourced smartphone/PC hybrid. And, Firefox has also shown some creative thinking by partnering with smartphone OEM ZTE to sell the inexpensive ZTE Open worldwide via eBay for $80.

Yes, you read that right. ZTE will be selling the smartphone globally over eBay. By doing this, Mozilla, the Firefox operating system parent organization, will reach a worldwide market without needing to jump through the telephone carriers' hoops. It's an outside the box idea and, who knows, It Might Just Work.

ZTE announced that sales of the ZTE Open Firefox OS phone will start within the next month on the ZTE store on eBay in the United States and the United Kingdom. It's already available from Telefónica in Spain, Venezuela and Colombia. The ZTE Open will be available for $79.99 (£59.99) and will be unlocked to allow use on all mobile networks.

Mr. Dai Wenhong, VP of ZTE said in a statement that, “It is great honor to launch the ZTE Open Firefox OS phone worldwide through eBay. ZTE is devoted to providing more options for customers globally and enabling them to live better lives via advanced technology. The ZTE Open offers customers a smartphone experience at an incredible price point, making it ideal for cost conscious consumers or those looking to upgrade to a smartphone for the first time.”

Mozilla in its announcement added that, "There won’t be any local apps or features because these devices are general, unlocked global variants targeted at developers and early adopters around the globe. As the devices are open market devices, they are not optimized for specific networks."

While we don't have all the ZTE Open's specs yet, here's what we do have:

  • Size: 114 x 62 x 12.5mm 3.5inch, 
  • HVGA.TFT, One Point touch + Gesture Captive (two point option) screen 
  • Memory: 512MB Rom +256MB RAM 
  • Bluetooth 2.1, accelerometer, ambient light sensor 
  • GPS, with AGPS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 
  • 3.2M FF Camera 
  • Battery: 1200mAH

It seems safe bet with the specs and this price this will not have a high-powered ARM processor. Unofficially, I am told by sources that it will be using a Qualcomm MSM7225A Snapdragon ARM processor. This is a single-core 1 GHz processor.

It may not be fast, but for $80 for a smartphone that will work with any network I can see it finding a broader audience than just gadget fans and open-source enthusiasts. And maybe, just maybe, Firefox OS will become the number three mobile operating system.

Related Stories:

Topics: Mobility, Linux, Mobile OS, Smartphones

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Good Niche

    Seems like an inexpensive, unlocked phone that can web-browse, email, text and make calls will have a market. I would buy one for the kids in my family. No need of additional apps.
    • Better choice would be....

      The Nokia Lumia...will last you longer too. Better build quality and infinitely more powerful. I don't see this phone succeeding.
      Dreyer Smit
      • Agreed on the Lumia

        The Lumia 521 is way more phone, with a healthy app selection, for not much more money.

        This Firefox phone is cheap, but it seems like it's only going to attract a niche group of techies that want a toy to play with, not a daily phone.
      • Except . . .

        . . . few users want to get stuck with that WP8 albatross; except Toddy.

        For that reason, I'm betting that this will out-sell Nokia 2-1 in the Christmas season and be #3 OS by the second quarter of 2014.
        • If you are really betting...

          ...then put your money where your mouth is and short Microsoft stock....lol.
          • I Would

            If it were tied only to consumer products . . . lol.
          • Not me

            Microsoft is so well positioned right now it's laughable to see their detractors spew out the same old nonsense. If you read around, you'll notice even tech writers (sensationalists all) are realizing MS has produced a monstrously useful and versatile OS.

            That, and the end of XP make it a big winner...As with all MS OS's Win8 will get better and better as they tweak it, and as manufacturers learn how to make complimentary products...The new Intel processors (and XP ending) will be a tipping point.

            I bought in right after the RT writeoff. I'll be laughing all the way to the bank in about 18 months.
        • Yeah... right

          The 520/21 is already the most popular WP8 device and sold well over a million units. Good luck with that bet.
      • You are not the target

        Firefox OS is target to the next billion of people who will buy smartphones -- and they are not going to buy Windows Phones.

        In Brazil, for instance, many families live with $600 a month. That may seem below poverty standards for American people, but, still, those people buy computers, TVs and smartphones.

        Now, if you had to live with a $600 per month, would you spend $200 on a "cheap" Lumia 620? For that kind of money you could buy *three* Firefox OS smartphones: one for you, one for your wife and a third one for your kids.

        (For those families, the Asha line is a much better option than Lumia.)
        • Little off in your numbers...

          The Lumia 520 is $19 more than this unlocked (actually picked mine up for $89 as a backup device) and has a better screen, processor, battery and more memory. Not to mention that WP8 has an ecosystem of over 150k apps already and growing. I think Firefox OS is going to have a long way to go to overtake WP8 in third place. Considering the almost sole producer of WP8 (nokia) is the number 6 or 7 manufacturer of smartphone I am thinking WP8 is doing pretty well. I like the Firefox OS from a tech level but there is honestly no selling point. WP8 and Android can, and do, make devices in this price range (though WP8 preforms better on this level of hardware) and each has a good ecosystem model. The HTML/JS app model (firefox OS) means that any firefox app can easily be a WP8 app (since HTML5/JS is one of the programming models for WP8).
  • can you root it and run Android

    Just asking -
    • Rooting for Android

      I wouldn't be surprised, but if the hardware is as they say, not sure you would want to run 4.3 0r 4.2 on it.
    • Cynical99: "can you root it [ZTE Open] and run Android[?]"

      The ZTE Open has already been rooted. More here:


      The bad news is that two (2) CVE's, one involving a Qualcom vulnerability and the other involving a Linux kernel 3.08 vulnerability, that can be used to root the device were first reported on November 15, 2012, in a Qualcomm security advisory and on February 19, 2013, in Mitre's Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database, respectively. The Qualcomm vulnerability has yet to be fixed and the Linux kernel vulnerability appears to have a patch available, but it apparently has not been applied by ZTE or Mozilla.

      As for Android, we'll have to wait and see.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • P.S. The Qualcomm vulnerability has had a patch available

        as of the November 15, 2012 security advisory.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
      • I see what you mean with the specifications

        Since Android can run fairly well in limited specs, wonder how it will run with Ubuntu?

        Only time will tell if people like it or throw it against the nearest brick wall.

        $80 is cheap for an unlocked phone, but I sort of like my Android apps.
        • Android runs well on limited specs?

          Not very well. It runs, but is very sluggish is my experience with a CHUWI with Android 4.0. The tablet's specs are pretty limited.
        • At CyanogenMod's web site, somewhat similarly spec'd ZTE handsets

          the ZTE V9, Skate and Blade, all have ROMs for Gingerbread (Android 2.3) and that's it.

          And why bother rooting the ZTE Open to install Gingerbread when one can simply purchase a similarly-priced Android Gingerbread handset?
          Rabid Howler Monkey
          • Why even get that

            My mom got an Ice Cream Sandwich based handset on Virgin Mobile for 50$
            Michael Alan Goff
  • Cheap

    Cant go wrong for a decent looking $80 unlocked phone.
  • Any Network? CDMA and GSM??

    The article wrote above: "any network". Really? Both on CDMA and GSM?