Firefox OS explained and hands-on with the Alcatel One Touch Fire C, ZTE Open C and Huawei Y300
Mozilla announced the future of its Firefox operating system during Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona with a preview of what to expect to see at the show. Several devices running the operating system were revealed from its partners including Alcatel One Touch, ZTE and Huawei.
We popped over to the Mozilla stand to have a look at three of them - Alcatel One Touch's Fire C, ZTE's Open C and Huawei's Y300 to see what they offered and how the operating system performs.
Firefox operating system explained
The Firefox OS wants to empower users, developers and industry partners to create the exact experience they want, and since its launch in 2013, smartphones running the system are available in 15 markets.
It comes with the Firefox Marketplace and there is also an adaptive app search that lets you access apps to download instantly or use once, with the aim being to maximise data and storage usage.
You can get a range of apps such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Line, and the Firefox Marketplace will allow the creation of apps enabling developers to build using basic web technologies.
In terms of design, the operating system offers rounded flat icons. Some apps then show a slightly altered shape, like Twitter and Facebook, pushing those recognisable brands, but the main principal shape is circular, matching the Firefox logo.
Future of the Firefox OS
The new Firefox OS will bring with it the ability to create custom ringtones and replace homescreens, as well as offer a new universal search by swiping down from the top.
There will also be new navigation features to help with multitasking, allowing users to swipe from the left and right edges to move between pages, content and apps.
NFC support will be introduced along with LTE support and there will also be Firefox Accounts introduced for more integration of the services including Firefox Marketplace, Firefox Syc, backup, storage and a service to help you find a message or wipe a missing phone.
First impressions of Alcatel One Touch Fire C
The entry-level Alcatel One Touch Fire C features a 3.5-inch HGVA display offering a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels and with a 314ppi, the image was clear and crisp, the colours were vibrant and the viewing angles weren't bad.
The design itself is a little bulky for our liking and the small handset is quite chunky but the curved shape makes it comfortable to hold in the hand, as well as light.
Under the hood there is a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and we moved through the apps swiftly and easily with no problem. There is just one circular home button on the device and there is a speaker on the rear next to the basic camera, and a headphone jack at the top.
We weren't convinced by the bright orange colouring, but at €59, if you are after a Firefox OS handset, this is the cheapest one so far and while you get what you pay for, it should do the job. The Alcatel One Touch Fire C is due to come out in the second half of the year.
First impressions ZTE Open C
The ZTE Open C is a little more slender than the Alcatel One Touch Fire C and we preferred the slimmer design and overall style of this handset. It has thick bezel at the bottom and top of the display but around the sides it is pretty slim.
It features a 4-inch display with a 800 x 640 pixel resolution offering a pixel density of 256ppi, and again, the colours were bright and the viewing angles were good but it isn't the crispest display we have seen.
Inside there is a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and switching between apps and tasks didn't seem to phase this device too much, but if you want to run a higher impact app, it might be a little sluggish. The circular home button is present just like the Alcatel One Touch Fire C and the camera on this device sits at 3-megapixels.
We prefer the overall design of the ZTE Open C over the Alcatel One Touch Fire C but the price hasn't been announced yet and considering how cheap the Fire C is, it might struggle to compete.
First impressions Huawei Y300
The Huawei Y300 is the company's first device to come with the Firefox OS and it is a nice-looking phone with a 4-inch display offering a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, which provides a pixel density of 233ppi. The colours were good, the image was clear and crisp, plus the viewing angles were good.
Inside there's a 1GHz processor which performed well and there is a 5-megapixel rear camera along with a VGA front camera, neither of which we had the opportunity to test out so we aren't sure how they will perform.
The design itself is very nice and although it is expected to launch at a budget price like the other Firefox OS devices when it eventually comes to market, the Huawei Y300 doesn't feel or look budget.
The circular home button returns again and the design is quite thick but it offers a solid build and it feels nice to hold.
It was probably our favourite of the three Firefox OS devices we tried out at the show in terms of design, but it isn't expected to come for another couple of months.