Mobiles & Tablets

Next wave of disruption in smartphones?

Sabyasachi Biswas | Updated on March 12, 2018

Get ready for a new breed of budget smarties, powered by Mozilla

For the longest time, we, gadget critics, had been complaining about how there aren’t any good smartphones in the sub-₹5,000 segment. And we understand the problem – an Android smartphone needs a good chipset and lots of memory to run smoothly, and it isn’t really feasible to build an Android phone in that price segment without compromising on even the most basic performance figures.

But since the last Mobile World Congress, the buzz around Firefox OS for phones has gotten stronger. And for good reason too – it might just end up being a new revolution in the budget smartphone industry. So when can we expect these super-affordable smartphones in India? Pretty soon, from what we gather.

Why Firefox?

So what’s the big deal with Firefox OS? Mozilla is a non-profit organisation, and like the browser, the OS has also adopted an open-source and free-software model. Moreover, the entire operating system is actually a browser based software – it is an HTML 5 web-based browser, sitting on top of Android kernels.

The features and the hardware on the phone will be accessed via a browser-based interface – much like Google’s Chrome OS. And since HTML 5 doesn’t require very high hardware specifications to be processed, the device makers will be able to keep their budgets low – which will result in super-affordable smartphones.

What about the apps, then? We will see how rich or deficient the app database would be, once we get our hands on the final products, but we expect it to be on the richer side. That’s because it would be easy for developers to port their apps to Firefox OS, as many of the Google Play and App Store apps have already been using HTML 5. Initially, users will get apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Line, Napster, Soundcloud etc.

Firefox in India

For now, two Indian manufacturers have announced their plans to sell affordable smartphones with Firefox OS in the domestic market. Intex announced its association with Mozilla to produce Cloud FX, which will be priced in the sub ₹2,000 category. The company states that the smartphone will be targeted at first time smartphone users in tier II cities and rural areas and is expected to hit the market first week of August. This device is stated to come with a 3.5-inch screen, a 1 GHz processor, a 2.0 MP camera and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.

Spice Mobile, the other Indian manufacturer planning to sell Firefox OS smartphones in India, plans on bringing its devices into the market by mid-July. Dilip Modi, Chairman, S Mobility Ltd, in an interaction with Business Line, stated that as the OS requires very less processing power and memory, it will be easy for them to keep the device’s prices low. He also stated that these devices will be aimed at the users who want a smartphone, but are forced to buy a feature phone for the lack of devices that offer that value for money.

Published on June 18, 2014

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