back to article Mozilla takes wraps off 25 DOLLAR Firefox OS smartphone

Ever in search of the next few billion people who will access the internet for the first time in the coming years, Mozilla has unveiled a reference design of a smartphone that it says could sell for as low as $25 (£15). The entry-level prototype running Mozilla's Linux-and-HTML-based Firefox OS was unveiled at the Mobile World …


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  1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    be afraid

    holey moley - if this thing takes off its going to have a lot of the established players running scared. talk about bringing smartphones to everyone

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: be afraid

      As I've been posting here for several years, usually to point out how meaningless "smartphone market share" is, soon every phone will be a smartphone.

      The bottom price for feature phones I've seen reported is $20, this would pretty much be the nail in the coffin for feature phones. They'll quit making them by the end of this year, run through existing stock by the end of next year, and by 2016 they'll be pretty much gone.

    2. solo

      Re: be afraid

      $25 phone with one of the best browsers in the planet.

      A good news for web developers that masses will see them how they intended to be.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If this pricepoint is true, we'll see a true democratistion of communications.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "single-core ARM Cortex-A5 CPU clocked at 1GHz with 1GB LPDDR1 RAM and 2GB NAND flash storage. It supports screen resolutions up to HVGA (640 by 240), or QVGA (320 by 240) on devices fitted with QWERTY keyboards..."

    Jesus. Is that $25 price stand-alone? I would kind of presume so since I wouldn't imagine that emerging markets tend to use the same contract system that the west does, but I really don't know... if that's the walk-in-and-plunk-it-on-the-counter price, that's just insane.

    I mean, OK, one core of a 1ghz A5 isn't half as fast as a core of a 2ghz i5, obviously. But according to an exhaustive 10 minute google search, single-core performance now is at least five times what it was even in 2006 - which means that even an absurdly conservative assumption about CPU stomp, say, that the Cortex is 1/10th as powerful per cycle, would put it on par with a 1ghz part from maybe 2003 or so.

    Which basically means that, estimated conservatively, you're getting desktop performance from 2003, with four or five times as much RAM, in a $25 phone. I mean, am I missing something here?

    How freaking crazy is that?!

    1. Nate Amsden

      and a screen resolution that takes you allllllllll the way back to what, 1992 ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So what's your complaint? The original iPhone had a 480x320 screen, which is fewer pixels than the 640x240 this supports. Back then no one suggested it had terrible resolution, because it had more pixels than almost any phone at the time.

        For $25 you aren't going to get specs that can or should be compared to high end products (and for the third world, any phone costing over $100 is very much high end)

        That resolution is more than adequate for using it as a phone, texting, and simple browsing. And way more than adequate for Flappy Birds :)

        1. solo

          ".. way more than adequate for Flappy Birds .."

          You just found the gold. So, Apple and Google forced Flappy Bird out as it was going to cause insane price war among them ;)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "and a screen resolution that takes you allllllllll the way back to what, 1992 ?"

        If you're talking about gaming, 320x240 (or 200) was de rigeur until 1997 or so on PCs - basically until 3D cards. And it was, given the effective limitations of NTSC/PAL, for all intents and purposes the resolution you got out of consoles until *2005*.

        Yeah, easy to forget, isn't it?

        So, no, not back to 1992. And even if it was back to 1992, it's a freaking PHONE. It weighs a few ounces, runs for hours on batteries, and costs twenty five bucks, and it integrates a display whose mere existence would have inspired incredulity until the early 2000s.

        You wanted a 320x240 256-color display in 1992, you got a 14" VGA monitor for upwards of $500 in today's money. And now you're getting that, plus what would have been the equivalent of (again, today's money) *fifty thousand dollars worth of RAM* and probably several large racks worth of servers to match the CPU. Buying the same capability in '92 probably would have run you at least two hundred grand, probably a lot more if you wanted to match the I/O capability, required tens of kilowatts to operate, and taken up several rooms' worth of space.

        And now you can get it for the price of a few beers. How can you not see that as insanely wonderful?!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheap hardware which has a poor user experience are exactly how you kill off your mobile platform.

    1. Interceptor

      "Cheap hardware which has a poor user experience are exactly how you kill off your mobile platform."

      Exactly. This:

      "Spreadtrum's new part, dubbed the SC8621, combines a single-core ARM Cortex-A5 CPU clocked at 1GHz with 1GB LPDDR1 RAM and 2GB NAND flash storage. It supports screen resolutions up to HVGA (640 by 240), or QVGA (320 by 240) on devices fitted with QWERTY keyboards, and it includes basic support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM radio, and 2Mp cameras." the same spec my Samsung Intercept had right down to the Qwerty keyboard. And it was a horrid, horrid phone. It was, however, the first pay-as-you-go 'droid phone on the market thru Virgin Mobile USA so I got me one.

      I think these are going to be the new $5 "burner phone", tbh.

      1. Luke McCarthy

        I guess that depends on how the latest Firefox OS performs compared to Android 2.3.

    2. Paw Bokenfohr

      Yes and No.

      "Cheap hardware which has a poor user experience are exactly how you kill off your mobile platform."

      Traditionally, yes.

      But not when the phone costs £15.

      In developing markets, it'll be a huge step up from a feature phone or no phone at all, and while people may have their frustrations with it, they will have little to compare it to at least initially, and it could take customers with them as it grows, and gets placed on higher spec hardware - much like iOS did - who knows?.

      Assuming "it" (once it exists outside of a reference design) sells in developed markets at all (and it probably will one way or another) everyone will know that it is not an iPhone 5S or a Nexus 5 - they will understand that it's a "burner" phone as has been said - something you buy to put your SIM in for a few days while you're between "proper" phones, or as an emergency phone, or as a phone for your older kids, or as one to take on holiday with you and pop a local SIM in etc etc.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just wait a couple of years and Firefox OS will be mature enough to be used with flagship phones.

  6. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

    Give me the WiFi and software that provides the sorts of functionality from a Palm Pilot or equivalent (text editor, file storage, calendar and a way to back everything up...sch as a removable microSD) and it sounds good as a PDA. At the touted price (or even twice that), I'd buy one for the purpose.

    As a phone...don't need it. My $10 flip-phone does that job for me.

  7. king of foo


    How long before the patent sharks start circling...

    I hope this is globally successful.

  8. Gerhard den Hollander

    want one ....

    Seriously .. for this kind of money, I want one .. just to use as a spare phone in case my real one dies .. in fact, I might want an additional 4 (one for each of the kids, and a hot spare in case they drop one in the loo).

  9. Thecowking

    If it's rootable

    And it has USB OTG (unlikely, but I can hope), it's suddenly my new raspberry pi replacement, with an integrated screen, built in Wifi and it's own little UPS in the form of that battery.

    Ok I'm assuming a fair bit with the OTG, but it's not beyond the realms of possibility. It'd make a lovely little hack project for me at that price point.

  10. Tom 7 Silver badge

    So its based on linux

    how easy is it adapt linux apps to run on it? There's a lot of useful apps that would still be useful at 640*240 and many more that you could adapt to that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So its based on linux

      A couple of ttys, lynx, pine and mpg123 would do me. An X server would be nice though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So its based on linux

        I used to run SSH on my Blackberry 7700 (IIRC?... Long time) and I think it was 480x320 or something. The client would do subpixel fonts, and it was totally usable in 80x25. That plus a qwerty and it was actually usable for development - pretty badass, actually, and one of the things I sorely miss despite my general affection for my Note 2. But coding with a virtual keyboard that needs four keypresses to do a { and back? Not so much...

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: So its based on linux - keypresses

          "bought my daughter" a 7" tablet for xmas, Got a micro-usb keyboard and case for it for £7.99 delivered. Borrow it for my phone when I want to type more than an obscene word or two - or even play with AIDE which allows me to program in C++ on it - would want to plug it into a screen for any real use but used to code some pretty hefty projects using MSC 3 on an 80*25 screen so its possible without... till you go blind!

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