Second open Linux phone on sale

FIC's fully hackable Neo1973 handset is officially launched for developers, with a 'mass market' launch of the OpenMoko system due later this year

Another fully open source-based phone went on sale on Monday, offering developers the chance to build their own mobile Linux applications.

The Neo1973 is the first mobile phone to be designed to run the open-source operating system OpenMoko. Officially launched to developers on Monday, it is the second fully accessible Linux phone to be made available after Trolltech released its Greenphone last year.

The touchscreen GSM phone, made by FIC, boasts Bluetooth 2.0, integrated assisted-GPS, microSD-based expandable storage and a Samsung processor. For $300 (£149), applications developers can buy a base kit, including the phone and its standard accessories, while the advanced kit — a so-called "Hacker's Dream Box" costing $450 (£223) — also includes a debug board and cable, tools and a ruggedised case.

In the so-called "mass market" phase of the Neo1973, a new version of the phone will go on sale in some retail stores later this year, while adding 3D graphics acceleration, a beefed-up processor and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi to the specification list.

Mobile Linux is slowly gaining traction, with two industry groups — the LiMo Foundation and the LiPS Forum — banding together operators and manufacturers to organise standards. Some manufacturers, such as Motorola, already base the operating systems for some consumer handsets on Linux, but the mobile open-source movement has, however, been criticised by some for being too fragmented to be effective in the higher-end smartphone arena — the market being targeted by the Neo1973 and Greenphone.


The advanced kit for those who want to hack a handset to their hearts' content


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