In this month’s Linux User & Developer magazine, in addition to my usual four-page spread of news from the free, libre and open source software and hardware world, I take a look at a gadget I was really rather excited to play with: the ZTE Open, the first globally available Firefox phone to come from a big-name brand.
I’m a heavy Firefox user myself – it’s installed on all my devices, although the Android version is a little buggy for me to use it as a day-to-day replacement for Chrome – so when I heard that ZTE was releasing a smartphone based on the Boot 2 Gecko (B2G) project, now known as Firefox OS, I had to snag a unit.
Sold directly through eBay, the ZTE Open is a budget-friendly beast. At just £59.99 SIM-free, the handset is priced to sell yet boasts the very latest build of Mozilla’s HTML5-powered operating system. Designed as an alternative to Google’s Android, Firefox OS doesn’t have ‘apps’ in the traditional sense: instead, it uses a chromeless build of Firefox to provide access to web-based applications, which are ‘installed’ on the handset in seconds without taking up any local storage space.
It’s a great theory, but does it come off in practice? Well, I wouldn’t want to spoil the review – but let’s just say I wasn’t too sad to see the back of the ZTE Open when the review was complete. I may be in the minority there, however: the company has sold thousands of the handsets since its recent launch, despite zero advertising.
If you’re interested in reading my review, or my regular four-page news spread, or even something that I didn’t write, you can pick up Linux User & Developer Issue 132 in any decent newsagent or supermarket, or digitally on Zinio or other magazine distribution platforms. You can also find more information on the official website.