Mozilla officially announced its Firefox OS and the first two retail smartphones to run the open source OS at the Mobile World Congress yesterday. The company has tied up with chipset maker Qualcomm to use the Snapdragon SoCs in the Firefox phones. It also announced tie-ups with four manufacturers—ZTE, Alcatel, LG and Huawei, and the first two have already showcased phones running Firefox OS: the ZTE Open and the Alcatel One Touch Fire.

Firefox OS uses HTML5-based apps and is targeting entry-level devices. The ecosystem's app store, the Firefox Marketplace, has social networking apps for Facebook and Twitter, Nokia’s HERE maps service, Box cloud storage, marquee games from EA Mobile and Disney Mobile Games.

Firefox Marketplace apps will be powered by cloud services to enable easy transition across devices and platforms. It will have popular apps such as AccuWeather, Airbnb, Pulse News, SoundCloud, SporTV, Terra and Time Out, as well as tailored, local apps that are relevant to users in their respective regions. Web developers can also turn a website into an HTML5 app through Mozilla's development kit. Firefox OS supports video calling over Web RTC, a browser-based technology that's also available on the Android Firefox Aurora app.

Firefox OS screenshots

Firefox OS screenshots

The first two phones to run the new OS were also unveiled in Barcelona. The Alcatel One Touch Fire will first launch in China and Latin America, and will be the first Firefox OS phone to hit Europe this summer.

The device has truly modest specs and underpins the fact that Firefox doesn’t need high-specced devices to run smoothly. The One Touch Fire is powered by a 1GHz processor with 256MB RAM. The phone looks simple and has the trademark Firefox orange accents on a white body. There is a home key, but it is not clear if it is a capacitive button or a physical one. However, the phone does not have a front-facing camera.

Alcatel One Touch Fire

Alcatel One Touch Fire

The key specs of the Alcatel One Touch Fire are:

  • 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels
  • 3G, HSPA (up to 7.2 Mbps), GPRS/EDGE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP
  • GPS with A-GPS support
  • 3.2 megapixel primary camera
  • 512MB internal storage with microSD card slot and 2GB card in the package

ZTE also announced a Firefox phone with largely similar specs. The ZTE Open is powered by a Cortex A5 processor clocked at 1GHz and has 256MB of RAM.

ZTE Open

ZTE Open

The key specs of the ZTE Open include:

  • 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 320 x 480
  • 3G (HSPA up to 7.2Mbps), GPRS/EDGE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
  • GPS with A-GPS support
  • 3.15 megapixel primary camera
  • 512MB internal storage with microSD card slot and 2GB card in the package

Mozilla said LG and Huawei would also be announcing their first Firefox OS phones soon.

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