Mozilla Opens Pre-Orders For ‘Flame’ Smartphone

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The mid-tier Firefox OS reference device from China costs just $170 with free shipping

Mozilla has announced that the Flame smartphone, developed in partnership with Chinese manufacturer Thundersoft, is now available for pre-order.

The 4.5-inch “reference device” with mid-tier specifications runs Firefox OS and costs just $170 (£107), including delivery.

It is aimed mainly at the developer community, although anyone can purchase a handset to try out Mozilla’s alternative operating system.

A taste of things to come

First announced in 2012, Firefox OS (previously known as Boot to Gecko) is an open source operating system for mobile devices, created entirely in HTML5. From the very start, it was designed to run on affordable hardware and appeal to the broadest possible market.

FlameFlame smartphone was originally revealed at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona at the end of February. It features 1.2GHz dual-core processor,1GB of RAM, a screen capable of 854×480 pixel resolution, 5MP rear and 2MP front cameras, 8GB of memory expanded through MiniSD slot and NFC and dual-SIM support.

The handset was created in order to allow developers to verify compatibility and test apps for the new operating system. It offers an exotic software-configurable RAM option that can be used to emulate devices that will be commercially available later this year.

Thunderbolt will be rolling out updates as new versions of Firefox OS are released, but there’s also an option to switch to ‘Nightly’ builds which offer the latest features but are far from being stable.

“The Flame is representative of the mid-tier phone hardware Mozilla and its partners are targeting over the coming year,” wrote Asa Dotzler, a notable Firefox developer, on the Mozilla blog. “It was designed for our developer and contributor community, so we worked with the manufacturer to keep the price as low as possible.”

And yet, Flame is still a long way from the $25 price tag promised by Mozilla’s recently appointed CTO Andreas Gal at MWC.

Pre-ordered handsets will be delivered before 30 June, and the delivery is free worldwide, except for Japan.

The first smartphones to run Mozilla’s mobile operating system – Keon and Peak – were developed in partnership with Spanish manufacturer Geeksphone, and released in April 2013. Limited quantities were made, and the devices sold out several hours after they appeared on the website. Since then, countless manufacturers have invested in Firefox OS devices, including ZTE with its Open C and Open II, and Alcatel with Onetouch Fire C, Fire E and Fire S. The latter has also released a Fire 7 tablet which runs the Mozilla’s OS.

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