Firefox Mobile Operating System Hits U.S. – $80 Phone, No Contract

firefox phone

You may think of Firefox as a browser. But the non-profit Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary Mozilla Corporation which developed Firebox have now developed a phone operating system as well. And soon you can buy an “unlocked” phone from ZTE in snazzy orange with that operating system at a very low price – just $79.99.

That price may not sound so attractive at first. After all, many small business owners today may get their phones at a very low rate or even free with their mobile plan. But remember, that plan, in many cases, includes a two year contract and essentially subsidizes the cost of your phone, which may retail for closer to $650.

An Unlocked Phone and an Open Source App Store

The difference here is that (as mentioned before) the ZTE Firefox phone will be unlocked. This means you are not limited to service from a single mobile carrier and can choose whatever mobile plan suits you or switch plans easily without switching phones. This could include a pay-as-you-go plan, for example, as opposed to a two year contract.

An unlocked phone also gives small business owners and entrepreneurs who travel internationally the option to save money on their mobile service while abroad. Instead of purchasing an expensive international plan from your existing carrier, you can often buy a much cheaper pre-paid plan when you reach your destination and simply use it while you are there.

Mozilla has even set up a Firefox Marketplace where you  can find apps for your new phone. It includes popular choices like Twitter and Facebook already. And while there may not be much of a selection yet, the store is open source meaning anyone can develop for it. So chances are selection will be increasing as the Firefox operating system becomes more popular.

Another Mobile Option, If It Catches On

It’s also important to remember that the new Firefox operating system offers another choice besides the big three: Apple, Android and Windows. But that’s only if it catches on, so don’t throw out your other phone just yet.

Also, don’t expect the same smoothness of operation you get from some other phones. A review from Engadget does state that the Firefox OS is “laggy,” meaning that scrolling is slow and it takes a while for websites to load. Of course, the low cost and other aspects may more than make up for this in many small business owners’ books.

If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of the Firefox operating system before now, that’s because phones using it have only been available in places like South America and Europe thus far. But ZTE, a Chinese manufacturer, has decided to offer the phones online, which will make them available to a wider customer base, including the U.S. market.

There’s no definite date when sales of the phone will go live, but ZTE is reportedly building a store on Ebay to start selling them soon. For now, watch Jay Sullivan, chief operating officer of Mozilla, demonstrate operation of the Firefox operating system. But keep in mind that while the ZTE device Sullivan shows off is blue, ZTE says this will not be the color of the phone it will be selling online.

Image: ZTE

7 Reactions
  1. Martin Lindeskog

    I welcome the competition. I would get this kind of phone during travel, plug in a SIM card for the region and then start using it. I must admit that I haven’t been using the Firefox browser for a long time and I am iPhone fan due to the fact that is a perfect in my worklife.

  2. THis is great news. I love the no contract plans and have even found a way to get my cell phone service paid for. This will make it easier for people to join to make money and then decide if they want to buy another phone. Two thumbs up Firefox.

  3. I think this new phone from ZTE is really going to be liked and bought by many. The reason is very clear, it’s unlocked and that means one can easily choose any plan without the need of switching the phone. The price of the phone also seems affordable for general people and so anyone would love to get this piece and try out to see what they can really do with it.

  4. I must admit that I am a fan of Firefox. I simply could not live without it. When I have a new PC, I make it a point to install it first thing. What I love about it is the add-ons that I know as if it is written at the back of my hands. Firefox on a phone makes me think that it may have faster Internet but since they are new to the industry, I somehow expected that their model will need drastic improvements.