We've crossed paths with Firefox OS before, but today marks the first time we've played with handsets running the final build of Mozilla's mobile software. The Alcatel OneTouch Fire and ZTE Open you see above are the same hardware we saw at MWC earlier this year -- in fact, the latter just launched in Spain on Telefónica for €69 ($90) contract-free including €30 ($39) of airtime for prepaid customers. We took both phones for a brief spin and immediately noticed a slight improvement in performance. Unfortunately, there's still a significant amount of lag in the UI, especially when scrolling through web pages and navigating the app tray. Websites also take a while to load, even when connecting over Wi-Fi. Then again, what do you expect for €69? Check out the gallery below and hit the break to watch our hands-on video.
Note: the ZTE Open we handled was destined for Movistar (a Telefónica brand) and is launching today for €69 (not €63 as mentioned in our video).
Firefox OS hands-on
Mozilla and Partners Prepare to Launch First Firefox OS Smartphones!
First Open Web Devices Powered by Firefox OS Make Smartphones More Accessible; Regional announcements coming soon
Mountain View, Calif. – July 1, 2013 – Mozilla, the mission-based organization dedicated to keeping the power of the Web in people's hands, today announced that the regional launches of Firefox OS smartphones will begin soon. Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica will release the first Firefox OS devices, the ALCATEL ONE TOUCH Fire and the ZTE Open, soon. Individual partners will announce specifics about launches in each market soon.
Firefox OS Features
Firefox OS smartphones are the first devices powered completely by Web technologies and offer everything you expect from a smartphone while also delivering new features to give you a personal experience that is unmatched by any other phone.
Firefox OS includes all the things people need from a smartphone out of the box – calls, messaging, email, camera and more – as well as the things you wish a smartphone offered. Firefox OS also includes built-in social features with Facebook and Twitter, HERE Maps with offline capabilities and smart walking, driving and public transit directions, much-loved features like the Firefox Web browser, a new ability to discover one-time use and downloadable apps, Firefox Marketplace and much more.
Firefox OS features a brand new concept for smartphones – an adaptive app search that literally transforms the phone to meet your needs at any moment, without the need to download anything. Simply swipe to the right on your Firefox OS phone and start to type what you are interested in to get a whole new customized phone experience based on your needs instantly.
For example, search for your favorite music artist and get results to buy your favorite song, concert tickets or even listen to your favorite song instantly. Making it possible for you to create these one-time use or downloadable apps on demand gives you a completely customized experience and helps you get the exact content you want, when you want it.
"The launch of Firefox OS marks an incredibly exciting time for the Web. Firefox OS powers the first smartphones built entirely on Web technologies and will stimulate an inspiring new wave of innovation for the Web," says Jay Sullivan, Mozilla Chief Operating Officer. "We are proud to deliver an experience for first time smartphone users that will delight them and really put the power of the Web in people's hands."
Firefox OS phones come with Firefox Marketplace, which unleashes the power of HTML5 apps on mobile. Firefox Marketplace has popular global apps you want and relevant local apps you need. Firefox Marketplace offers apps in categories like games, news and media, music and audio, business and productivity so you can find an app for whatever you want – even local and niche topics. Firefox Marketplace includes popular apps such as AccuWeather, EA games like Poppit, Facebook, Nokia HERE Maps, SoundCloud, Terra, Time Out, TMZ and Twitter as well as personally tailored and local apps that will differ by region.
Firefox OS is an extension of the Firefox desktop and mobile browsing experience that hundreds of millions of people know and love, so you can expect all the security, privacy, customization and user control Firefox always delivers.
With more than 20 hardware and operator partners around the world, Firefox OS is filling the need for a fully adaptable, unconstrained mobile platform to deliver an innovative and customizable mobile Web experience that people are missing today. The world is waiting for a more attainable smartphone experience; only 21 percent of global mobile subscribers have smartphones, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
"Operators, OEMs, and developers are growing ever more interested in the emergence of a truly viable alternative mobile platform that offers them new economic opportunities independent of today's incumbents," said John Jackson, Research Vice President for IDC. "Such a platform will have to meet challenging requirements in terms of robustness, scale, and openness. Mozilla and its partners are now moving definitively into the first wave of Firefox OS distribution. One of our recent surveys found Firefox OS to be more compelling to developers over Tizen, Blackberry and Kindle Fire, despite no commercial products being available yet. It is clear that influential members of the operator, OEM, and developer communities at both global and hyper-local levels see the potential of Mozilla's Firefox OS to be that next platform."
Telenor will launch their first Firefox OS phones in Central and Eastern Europe this year. Firefox OS phones will launch in more markets later this year.
Quote from Deutsche Telekom
"We are excited that with the upcoming launch in Poland Deutsche Telekom is leading the go to market for the Firefox OS mobile device", says Claudia Nemat, Board member for Europe and Technology at Deutsche Telekom. "The launch of the first Firefox smartphones in Europe is an important step on the way to more innovation and to more competition between the different ecosystems. We rely on open platforms because we want to create freedom of choice on behalf of our customers."
You can check out a video demo here: http://youtu.be/Iu8q-oISbas
Quote from Telefonica
José María Álvarez Palette, Chief Operating Officer of Telefónica said, "We believe that smartphones need to be more open and that the Web is the platform for making this possible. Consumers should not be locked to any one system but have the choice to consume the content they want and the flexibility to be able to take it with them when they change devices. This week marks a key turning point for the industry as we launch the first commercial Firefox OS devices in Spain. This is just the beginning as we bring Firefox OS to more and more of our markets across an expanding range of smartphones."
Quote from ZTE
"We are honored to partner with Telefonica and Mozilla to launch our first Firefox OS phone, the ZTE Open. Packed with powerful features, it's totally a new experience for smartphone users. As one of the top five smartphone manufacturers in the world, ZTE is devoted to provide more options for global customers and let everyone enjoy splendid life via advanced technology." said Mr.Dai Wenhong, VP of ZTE Corporation.