Currently, the smartphone space is dominated by the Android and Apple iOS duopoly. In a market where software-giant Microsoft is having a tough time pushing its Windows Phone platform, there seems to be no room for new operating systems. However, this wasn’t enough to deter Mozilla’s smartphone ambitions. Since the organisation is not in a position to take on Apple, Android, and Microsoft, it has avoided direct confrontations with these big companies. To grab marketshare, Firefox OS has a different plan. It is set to compete with the poor feature phones. Also known as B2G (Boot To Gecko) project, Mozilla’s OS is already making its presence felt in India. The credit goes to companies such as Intex and Spice for delivering the first wave of handsets at dirt-cheap prices. In case you didn’t know, the Intex Cloud FX is priced at Rs 2000 and the Spice Fire One Mi-FX1 costs Rs 2300. The pricing undoubtedly takes the battle right into the feature phone territory. However, to find predict whether these Firefox phones have a chance of achieving success; let’s have a closet look at their features:
Most feature phones come with a non-touch 2″ screen. Surpringly, this phone comes with a generous 3.5″ touchscreen. iPhone had a same screen size up to the 4S model, so let’s not complain about it. The phone is backed by a 1 GHz processor, The chipset is not specified, so we are guessing it’s inferior than what MediaTek offers. Other features include 128 MB RAM, 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 2.5G, and dual-SIM support. The biggest caveat here is the feeble 256 MB storage. Although it comes with a memory expansion slot, the maximum this phone can handle is a 4 GB microSD card.
The Fire One Mi – FX 1 (what a name) also features 1 GHz CPU and 128 MB RAM. The phone has a 3.5-inch with pixel dimensions of 480×320. Similar to the Intex Cloud FX, this phone offers a 2 MP fixed-focus primary camera, Wi-Fi, 256 MB internal storage, up to 4 GB microSD card support, Bluetooth, and dual-SIM support. Since this phone costs slightly more than the Intex Cloud FX, you get the extra feature, which is a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera.
When pitted against feature phones, Firefox OS phones win hands down. For starters you get a proper touchscreen interface. Web browsing on feature phones is so cumbersome that it’s almost impossible to use it. Firefox phones take a clear lead in this regard. Another advantage for Firefox here is that most manufacturers such as Sony, LG, Motorola have given up on feature phones to concentrate their efforts on smartphones. Moreover, Nokia (handset division, now owned by Microsoft) is planning to stop churning out dumb phones. With reputed brands fading out in the low-end segment, people will be more open towards lesser known brands and platforms, which is good news for Mozilla.
A few Android phone manufacturers including Micromax too tried their luck at super-affordable smartphones. Take for instance, the Bolt A24 that retails for Rs 2500. This phone comes with two times the RAM found in the compared to Firefox phones. However, we all know that Android operating system is not usable on 256 MB RAM. It requires at least 1 GB of RAM to run properly. Some tech enthusiasts were looking at Google’s Android One program to take on Firefox phones, but it’ now clear that these phones will cost around Rs 7000. So they’re mostly out trouble Microsoft’s entry-level Windows Phones such as the Lumia 530 and 525. Speaking of which, WP is also a free to use platform like Android and Firefox OS. But, since Microsoft is quite strict about its hardware guidelines that forbid manufacturers from using shady chipsets such as MediaTek, the cost of Windows Phones is unlikely to close to that of Firefox. This gives Mozilla open playground in the ultra-affordable smartphone space.
Taking everything into consideration, Firefox OS phones have a very good chance against feature phones. However, battery life and incredibly simple interface will likely save feature phones from extinction. Additionally, people who still don’t warm up to touchscreens will keep on investing in feature phones. What about you? Would you buy a sub-2k smartphones or stick to your trustworthy no-frill handset?