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Indian Firefox OS phones start at $33

Aug 31, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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Intex and Spice launched the first Firefox OS phones in India using a low-cost Spreadtrum design: the $33 Intex Cloud FX and the $38 Spice Fire One Mi-FX 1.

Mozilla announced two new Firefox OS phones in India that have blasted through smartphone price barriers. The two phones, which are the first in Asia to run Mozilla’s Linux- and HTML5-based Firefox OS platform, are priced at a low 1,999 Indian Ruppees ($33) for the Intex Technologies Cloud FX and $2,299 Rs ($38) for the Spice Fire One Mi-FX 1 from Spice Retail Limited. The low-end phones are about a half to a third the price of the most affordable Android phones sold in India.



Intex Cloud FX (left) and Spice Fire One Mi-FX 1
(click images to enlarge)

Although there was only fleeting mention of Spreadtrum in the various press releases for the phones, these are the first generation of the company’s “$25 Firefox OS phone” design announced in February. In June, Mozilla announced that the reference design would soon be carried by Intex and Spice in India. The devices use a Cortex-A5-based Spreadtrum chipset called the SC6821 that combines an ARM application processor and 2G baseband. A 3G version is due to arrive at a later date.

Mozilla’s June announcement noted that Spreadtrum had also signed up Taiwan-based Chunghwa Telecom for an upcoming Firefox OS phone. Originally, Mozilla and Spreadtrum had mentioned Norway’s global provider Telenor, as being interested, as well as two Indonesian carriers: Telkomsel, and Indosat. There was no mention of these projects in the latest Mozilla announcement.



Spreadtrum prototype for $25 Firefox OS phone revealed in June (left) and earlier prototype (right)
(click images to enlarge)

Just as Datawind’s “$25 Android tablet” arrived in India as a $38 Aakash tablet, Spreadtrum and Mozilla missed their targeted price, but still delivered with surprisingly low prices. (The price slip had already been foreshadowed by the lack of a mention of the $25 price in Mozilla’s June announcement.)

According to an IBN Live report, vendors including Huawei, ZTE, Micromax, and Karbonn now sell low-cost Android phones in India with prices ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 Rs ($83 to $116). The story also said that Google was partnering with Android One to deliver a smartphone to India for under 6,000 Rs. Overall, Samsung leads the Indian smartphone market with a 29 percent share, followed by Micromax (18 percent), Karbonn (8 percent) and Lava (6 percent), said IBN Live.

The Intex and Spice phones are relatively low powered compared to Android phones. An India Today hands-on report on the Cloud FX was none too impressed. Yet, the phone offers considerably more power and sophistication than feature phones that are not much cheaper, says the story.

Both phones provide 1GHz Spreadtrum processors and 3.5-inch HVGA (320 x 480-pixel) capacitive touchscreens. Other common features include dual-SIM 2G GSM radios, as well as WiFi, Bluetooth, and FM radio.

The Intex Cloud FX is further equipped with 128MB RAM and 256MB flash, expandable up to 4GB, as well as a 2-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1250mAh battery, according to Intex. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack and a micro-USB port.

No RAM or flash details were provided for the Spice Fire One Mi-FX 1, which offers both 1.3-megapixel rear-facing and a 0.3-megapixel front-facing cameras, according to this NDTV report. The Intex phone offers support for English, Hindi, and Tamil, while the Spice phone also provides Bangla support.

Both phones integrate Facebook and Twitter, the Firefox browser, and apps such as the Firefox OS Marketplace, says Mozilla. Firefox OS is now available on 10 smartphones offered by seven major operators in 18 countries, says the company.

“It is exciting to see the Intex Cloud FX and Spice Fire One Mi-FX 1 now available as the first Firefox OS devices in India and Asia,” stated Li Gong, President of Mozilla. “The positive consumer feedback from other markets tells us that people like the unique user experience and openness we’re building with Firefox OS. With support from Intex and Spice, Firefox OS smartphones in the ultra-low-cost category will redefine the entry-level smartphone and create strong momentum in Asia.”

 
Further information

The Intex Cloud FX is available in black and white, for 1,999 Rs ($33), and the Spice Fire One Mi-FX 1 is going for $2,299 Rs ($38). Both products are being released exclusively on Snapdeal.com, before expanding to a wider retail release.

More information may be found at the Mozilla blog announcement, the Intex announcement (PDF), and eventually, perhaps, at the Spice Hotspot. The Cloud FX is also detailed on Snapdeal.com, but at publication time, the Spice phone had yet to appear.
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

2 Responses to “Indian Firefox OS phones start at $33”

  1. werewolfc says:

    The price looks interesting, until you see the phone :(. Mozilla is aiming too low, imho a 45$ tag would have been more apropriate while the phone came with 3G, more RAM (min 256 MB … because let’s face it: FFOS is going to gain some weight… just look at the Android), a decent display and for GOD sake, a little bit less plastic on the front.

    The phone looks awful (even if FFOS runs very well on that device) and it’s targeted mainly to India, where a lot of 2nd class Android smartphone manufacturers like Micromax,Karbon and a lot of chinesse one “are rulling”. Why should i buy crappy hw? Just for the OS? Not gonna’ happen!
    If i’m having 35$ in my poket and i’m looking for a phone, i wouldn’t buy it. I’ll probably get a feature phone or wait until i could afford a 90$ 3G chinesse android smartphone.

    Hope that this experience with ultra low cost smartphone won’t be a failure for Mozilla.

  2. jezra says:

    What this has going for it is price. The target market for this device is people that can’t afford a $150 phone.
    Does it make calls? yes
    does it send text messages? yes
    does it have an adequate web browser? yes

    I’d say this is going to do quite well despite the OS.

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