ZTE Open review: first look at a Firefox phone

Mozilla has announced that four major manufacturers will be releasing Firefox OS smartphones in 2013, but the only one we were able to grab some hands-on time with at its MWC press event was the diminutive ZTE Open.

This phone will only cost around $100 (around £70), so it's unsurprising that the specifications didn't blow our socks off. It has a 3.5in HVGA, 320 x 480 resolution display, a single-core 600-800MHz Qualcomm processor, only 256MB of RAM and also a rather low-capacity 1,200mAh battery.

As you might expect at such a cutthroat price, the quality of the display isn't impressive. Aside from the low resolution, there's a huge gap between the touch layer and the LCD beneath it, causing lots of glare and reflectivity. In addition, blacks looked distinctly grey, and the backlight was visible around the edges when viewed at an angle.

The handset we were shown at the launch event was "very pre-production" according to our friendly Mozilla spokesman, which goes some way to explaining the rather hesitant, bug-strewn demo.

When we eventually managed to prise the phone from our demonstrator's hands, however, it didn't feel that bad at all in the hand, and we rather liked its fetching, Firefox orange colour (other colours are available) and soft-touch plastic finish.

Despite our initial consternation at finding Bing to be the default search engine, we were also reassured to find that's something that can be easily customised.

But this is all rather academic for the UK smartphone market. With this, and other Firefox phones, unlikely to arrive in Blighty until 2014 at the earliest, British smartphone fans are going to have to content themselves with low-cost Android handsets for at least another year, which is disappointing to say the least.

ZTE Open key specifications:

  • 3.5in, 480 x 320 display
  • 3.2mp camera
  • Single core, 600-800MHz Qualcomm CPU (unconfirmed)
  • 256MB of RAM
  • 1,200mAh battery
  • Firefox OS

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