If you’re into open source, unlocked phones that cost less than a month of phone service, take note. Manufacturer ZTE is selling their first Firefox OS phone on Ebay for a piddly $99, a price that should make it a great choice for folks looking for a solid phone with a solid pedigree and an actually open OS.
Preceded by the original ZTE Open, released in the U.S. last August, the new Open C features a slight spec bump and is $20 more than the original Open.
The specs are still pretty chintzy. The 3-megapixel camera and 1.2Ghz processor are poky at best and it comes with 4GB of on-board memory which is enough for a few apps and maybe a Rush discography. The real draw is Firefox OS which is, unlike Android, a completely open-source solution. The OS is sort of a last gasp for Mozilla and, like the failed Ubuntu phone, has become a darling of the open source community.
The Open C runs the latest Firefox OS which features adaptive app search (you type in “Cafe” and see apps that will help you find a cafe). It also has the features expected of any major smartphone OS. What is it missing? A license fee and Google’s own lockdown mentality that makes Android ostensibly open until manufacturers want to use the Google Play store or any of Android’s proprietary features. In China, where open source phones are popular but many Google services are locked down, Firefox OS makes perfect sense. And, at $99, it’s a bargain anywhere in the world.