Firefox OS smartphones: Everything you need to know about the hardware

The Firefox OS officially gets hardware, and could even be shipping soon.

The Mozilla Foundation (in partnership with GeeksPhone) has just revealed that the first "Developer Preview" phones will be shipping with the new, Open Source, "Firefox OS" very, very shortly - possibly as early as just a few weeks from now.

A few things worth noting:

1) These phones are being clearly labelled as "Developer Preview" models. The purpose of these phones is to get a fully functional Firefox OS-based device into the hands of software developers as quickly as possible. More developers = more new Firefox OS-specific software.

2) Just because these are "Developer" phones doesn’t mean they are real cell phones. Nokia released some Linux-powered "Developer" phones a few years back...and those are still in use today as primary cell phones.

3) No pricing has been announced, though Geeksphone does say that they will be available "at a price you could never have imagined." I’ll be honest: I can imagine some pretty doggone cheap prices...but it’s still a good sign that we might see the first batch of Firefox OS phones for less than half a grand (USD).

There are two models:  

  • "Keon" - The entry-level unit with a 3MP camera, 3.5-inch screen, single-core Snapdragon 1Ghz processor, 512 megs of RAM and 4gigs of storage. No front-facing camera. Definitely an entry-level device with those specs.
  • "Peak" - The big daddy. Dual-core, 1.2Ghz processor. 4.3-inch screen. 8MP camera (and a 2MP front-facing camera). Same storage as the Keon model.

Both models top out at 3G speeds, which is a bit on the crummy side. Especially considering this is Firefox OS we’re talking about.

Curious about Firefox OS? Here it is in a nutshell:

Take the Linux kernel. Put Gecko (the runtime that powers the Firefox desktop web-browser itself) on top. Give HTML/JS/CSS (aka “HTML5“ in this context) applications the ability to access phone hardware features - such as making a phone call and GPS.

That... is it. The idea is to create a platform that is easy for web developers to build applications for - and to keep consistent (and, theoretically, Open Source) code-bases between web and phone.

It’s definitely an interesting idea, though not really a new idea. In fact, it seems like a mild variation of Apple’s original iPhone strategy. The original iOS was all about building web applications for mobile devices as well. The crew over at Mozilla seem to be taking a little better approach to it (in my opinion), but I’m a tad bit skeptical as to how the Nerdy public will react to it.

Especially in light of some of the other Linux-powered phone Operating Systems that are available, such as Sailfish and Ubuntu Phone.

But, hey, competition is good, right?

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