Mozilla's freshly updated Firefox OS 1.3 is running on ZTE's dual-core Open C, which launched today on eBay at $99 for consumers in the US, Russia, and across Europe.
The new ZTE Open C, the successor to last year's $80 Firefox OS-based ZTE Open, comes with a slightly larger four-inch display, a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor, and a 1,400mAh battery. It's also kitted with a three-megapixel camera, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of on board storage.
As with the Open, the ZTE is selling the Open C direct to customers on eBay without carrier support. For the new device, it's also opened up sales beyond the US and UK to Russia, Germany, and other parts of Europe. Markets included in its European distribution include Sweden, Norway, Ukraine, Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic, Greece, Portugal, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Malta, Luxembourg, Latvia, Slovenia, Croatia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Iceland, Netherlands, Monaco, and Vatican City State (but not Italy).
Of course, at $99, the device's specs don't come close to the latest flagships from Samsung, Apple, HTC, and Nokia, but it's not far off Nokia's Android-based X devices which are targeted at the same markets and are priced slightly above the Open C.
The new device from ZTE is also the first to ship with Firefox OS 1.3, which Mozilla released on Thursday for its partners to implement on devices.
The update fills some significant gaps in the HTML5-based OS, including a UI to switch between two SIM cards for text, calling, or data. The OS also now supports continuous autofocus and flash to improve video and camera capabilities.
The update also bring improvements to media apps such as music controls in the notifications tray or from the lock screen, while the FM Radio app can be played through the device’s loudspeaker, thanks to some new APIs that came with the Gecko 28-based release.
Firefox OS developers have also worked to improve what Mozilla is calling "adaptive search", which lets the user search apps from Firefox's Marketplace or the web.
Other improvements include the ability to group apps by categories, email notifications and more messaging options, multiple simultaneous Bluetooth file transfers, faster app startup, and broader language support.
Developers also have better support for graphics and gaming through WebGL, asm.js, and WebAudio, tools to test NFC functionality, and several new APIs to tap different hardware components, such as the device's speaker and SIM cards.
It remains to be seen whether Mozilla can carve out a significant space in the fiercely competitive mobile market with both consumers and developers. However, it has managed to launch Firefox OS smartphones in 15 markets with global operators and three devices.