ZTE Firefox OS smartphone available globally for $80

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.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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