High-end smartphones typically dominate the news at Mobile World Congress, leaving us surprised by the amount of attention garnered by Mozilla's Firefox OS. Earlier this week we checked out Alcatel's One Touch Fire
, and today we had a chance to try out ZTE's Open. Both are geared for emerging markets, focusing on maximum features from basic hardware via an operating system built from web standards.
Alcatel's phone and the Open are so close in hardware design that we wouldn't be surprised if it was actually the same device with only modest tweaks to the plastic housing. Both are relatively small handsets, thicker than many current high-end devices and with smaller displays.
The Open is not a particularly fast phone, relying on a single-core processor, but it does provide all of the core smartphone functions. Firefox OS offers a full web experience, an important aspect when considering how the Open and the One Touch Fire will appeal to customers.
We know Firefox OS handsets will be cheaper than the phones typically subsidized by carriers in the US, Europe and other market, but Alcatel and ZTE have yet to answer the big question: how low is the price, exactly? If these phones retail for around $100 or less, we can see the platform quickly becoming popular. If the price is closer to $200, however, it would be difficult to see why the Open or the One Touch Fire serve as viable alternatives to existing Android handsets.