Mozilla, the nonprofit organization behind the Firefox web browser, is betting that you’ll love a Firefox phone — if you live in certain European or South American markets. So if you’re in Poland, prepare for the ads at your local mobile phone store. And if you live in the United States? Don’t expect to see them at T-Mobile anytime soon.
Starting this week, though, it’ll be possible to buy a Keon or Peak smartphone running Firefox OS, according to a marketing email from Geeksphone (a company which apparently knows its audience). These are mostly aimed at app developers, the ones who’ll be writing the apps for Firefox OS and who’d like a handset to try it out on.
So, assuming you’re already interested in Firefox OS, is either phone worth it? Here’s a quick preview.
Imagine an original iPhone painted bright orange, and you have Geeksphone’s premiere Firefox phone. No front-facing camera, no flash on its 3 megapixel shooter, a 3.5 inch HVGA multitouch screen, and only 4 GB of internal memory. (Thank goodness for that microSD slot.) It’ll cost about $120 plus shipping and tax, so expect to pay something like $150 when all’s said and done.
Under the hood, of course, it’s a bit more powerful than the first modern smartphone was. It’s packing a 1 GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM, which it’ll need to run modern web apps. If you’re planning on writing the Firefox version of Skype, though, or another processor-intensive app that’ll use a front-facing camera, then you’ll need …
This one’s more on par with modern Android phones, with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and a 4.3-inch qHD IPS display. It’s got an 8-megapixel shooter with a flash, a front-facing camera, and a bright white chassis with a small orange logo on the back. It’s still got the same 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage, though, so you’d better put that microSD slot to good use if you plan to store any music on it.
The Peak will cost about $195 plus shipping and tax.
If you want a phone for your personal use, or you want to test apps for the breed of Firefox phones that will (hopefully) hit stateside shores sooner or later, then you want a Peak. Its larger screen and more powerful processor put it in line with American customers’ expectations, and (as a plus) make it more suited to running modern versions of Android should you get bored of the ‘fox and decide to go with CyanogenMod instead.
If you want to get started immediately writing Firefox apps for the emerging markets served by the OS today, a Keon will give you a better idea of the capabilities of its low-end handsets, both in terms of screen size and processor power. You might also consider using it as your day-to-day smartphone, just to get an idea of what your target audience is dealing with. Just keep an Android or iOS-based backup on hand, just in case.