Telefonica announced the launch of Firefox OS 1.1 phones in Brazil, including the debut of LG’s first Firefox OS phone. The LG Fireweb offers a larger 4-inch screen and a more capable 5-megapixel camera than Telefonica’s current ZTE and Alcatel Firefox OS phones, but is limited to same 480 x 320 resolution.
Telefonica has been Mozilla’s chief carrier partner for its Linux- and HTML5-based Firefox OS, launching the first ZTE Open phone in Spain in early July. Telefonica expanded to Colombia and Venezuela in August, and also began selling the similar Alcatel Onetouch Fire there as well. Last week, a Telefonica exec told CNET that phones based on the open source Firefox OS were selling well, representing over 12 percent of smartphone sales in Venezuela and almost 9 percent in Colombia.
New Firefox OS phones: LG FireWeb, Alcatel Onetouch Fire
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Now Telefonica’s Vivo subsidiary in Brazil has launched the Onetouch Fire in that country, along with LG’s first Firefox OS phone, the LG Fireweb. The Brazil launch will be followed in the coming days by Firefox OS debuts in Peru, Uruguay, and Mexico. Telefonica did not detail which countries would get which phones. All the phones run the faster new Firefox OS 1.1 release.
Evidence of an LG Firefox OS phone first emerged in September when an FCC filing revealed a “D300G” phone will come with a roughly 4.3-inch display, WiFi, GPS, and GSM/WCDMA 850/1900MHz cellular support. It’s unclear if this is the same model as the LG Fireweb, which offers a 5-megapixel camera, up from 3.2-megapixels on the ZTE and Alcatel phones, as well as 4-inch display, compared to 3.5-inches for the existing models. Unfortunately, the screen resolution remains the same at 480 x 320 pixels, and the phone appears to run the same 1GHz, single-core Snapdragon S1processor found in the other phones.
No RAM allotment was listed for the LG Fireweb, which according to Telefonica, offers the same 2GB of flash provided on the other phones. Engadget, however, says the phone provides 4GB of flash, not 2GB, and notes that the camera is the first Firefox OS model to offer autofocus and LED flash. It also reports that in Brazil the Fireweb is priced is $449 BRL ($207 US) for pay-as-you-go plans, or $129 BRL ($59 US) for contract subscribers.
Although Firefox OS phones are aiming to undercut low-end Android models, the Engadget story notes that LG’s cheapest Android phone, the Optimus L3 II sells for less at $399 BRL ($184) in Brazil for pay-as-you-go. However, the L3 II, which has the same Snapdragon S1 CPU, has a lesser 3.2-inch, 320 x 240-pixel screen and a 3-megapixel camera.
Earlier Firefox OS phones: ZTE Open; Geeksphone Peak+
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The LG Fireweb may be the most advanced carrier-supplied Firefox OS phone to date, but it doesn’t match Geeksphone’s unlocked Peak+, which runs Firefox OS on a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon S4 8225, and offers up to quadruple the Onetouch Fire’s 256MB RAM allotment, at 1GB. The Peak+ also provides a 4.3-inch qHD (960 x 540 pixel) IPS display, and offers 4GB of flash memory, a microSD slot, and both an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with flash and a 2-megapixel front-facing videocam.
In the video below, Mozilla’s Paul Jarratt provides a brief demo of Firefox OS running on the LG Fireweb.
Brazil: biggest test yet for Telefonica
As the largest, most populous country in Latin America, Brazil is an important market for Mozilla and Telefonica, and the upcoming Mexico launch should be significant as well. Both markets are still largely in the feature-phone phase, and have yet to fully embrace the world’s leading low-end smartphone platform, Android.
In Brazil, the Firefox OS app store, called Firefox Marketplace, is currently equipped with 50 “national” apps, says Telefonica. These are said to include UOL, Itau, Climatempo, IG, OLX, Decolar, Guias Mais, BOL, SporTV, Dieta e Saúde, Editora Globo, Galinha Pintadinha, Kekanto, Vivo my App, and Vivo Chat.
The localized apps were developed with the help of the Innovation Center of Telefonica. Over the last year-and-a-half, the center has encouraged the Firefox OS ecosystem by holding hackathons, providing lectures and seminars, and promoting other events “with a community of over 1400 developers,” says the Spanish carrier.
Telefonica is not alone in its Firefox OS crusade. Deutsche Telekom claims to be pleased with sales in Poland of the Onetouch Fire, and says it will expand to Germany this month, followed by launches in Greece and Hungary. Telenor confirmed plans to offer Firefox OS phones in Hungary, Serbia, and Montenegro by the end of the year.