ZTE Open Unboxing and first impressions of Firefox OS

Neowin received a ZTE Open handset for review purposes and we’ve got a small treat for you curious folks and a bit of a tease for the upcoming review.

In case you’re a bit out of the loop, the ZTE Open is the first smartphone that’s launched with Firefox OS, in an effort by the foundation behind the famous browser to diversify and bring the openness of the web to mobile handsets.

While the ZTE Open is in no way designed to go head to head with the flagship devices on the market today, its very low price tag makes it attractive for first-time buyers or folks looking for a second device.

The packaging resembles any other smartphone packaging, and I’m quite happy that we got a full retail box instead of the usual wrapping paper that review units usually come with.

Inside we find the device itself which is very small and light, even when adding in the battery that comes in its separate bag. The orange color on the plastic casing is very attractive and it makes the device stand out very easily especially when compared to the usual low-end Android handsets.

Unfortunately the casing itself is plastic which feels a bit cheap. Of course, the phone is very inexpensive but Nokia has proven that even low-end devices can have a quality feel to them, and it’s somewhat missing here. 

The ZTE Open next to a Lumia 520

Same goes for the screen which is unfortunately, unexpectedly bad and reminiscent of first generation Android devices. Color reproduction is horrible and its lagging in responsiveness. This may be because of the OS, but the screen is most definitely not helping at all. Oh and the ZTE Open relies on regular-sized SIM cards which is a bit annoying when most handsets have switched to newer smaller standards.

As for the OS itself I was very excited to get to try it out, but no matter what anyone says, this is still a beta version as far as I’m concerned. I see a lot of potential for it but it’s hard to ignore some of the glaring problems I've encountered so far.

The design is nothing special though I like the navigation features such as the left and right swipes to move around the OS. The lack of navigation buttons can be a bit unnerving especially for someone like me that’s been jumping between Android and Windows Phone for the last three years, but if you’ve ever used an iPhone you’ll feel right at home as soon as you turn on the device.

Though Firefox OS is brand new it has some features that Windows Phone, for example, doesn’t. And I’m referring to the notification center that seems to work pretty well, although I’ll have to do more testing in the following days.

So far I’m still excited about the OS, and want to see how far I can push it. Unfortunately the ZTE Open in itself has so far been very disappointing and I have a feeling the device will stand between me and my enjoyment of the Firefox OS.

We’ll have a full review up soon of both the device and the OS. If you have any specific questions or things you’d like me to test, leave a comment below and I’ll include the answers in the review. We’ll also be giving away the device once the reviews are up so be sure to stick around for that if you’re curious to try the phone for yourself.

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34 Comments

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I wish some other manufacturer would come out with a device with better hardware inside and out to better showcase Firefox OS. From what I have seen so far, it seems it has a lot of potential to be the 'third' horse in the race.

Most of the Windows phones being sold are low end devices, and this should be able to easily replace them for a much lower price if only some manufacturer would come out with a device with better hardware soon.

This looks like a baby phone for kids are they serious with this who would want to be seen with a fisher price looking phone like this? Why are these people wasting their money on research, development and manufacturing of this crap?

Because the first world might not be their target market, think India, China and Africa where these could sell very well "IF" they can get distribution.

You are aware there are other places outside your little world ?

Depicus said,
Because the first world might not be their target market, think India, China and Africa where these could sell very well "IF" they can get distribution.

You are aware there are other places outside your little world ?

Yes I am well aware of place outside of the US which you assume is my home country but your dumba** is wrong. My home country would be considered a market similar to India and most people will laugh at this crap.

I didn't mention your home country - although your profile does mention you live in Florida. Lets agree to disagree that this phone is designed for emerging markets where style is often not a consideration. You may not like it but I doubt you speak for the majority.

"Nokia has proven that even low-end devices can have a quality feel to them"

proof? example? or is this another one of those typical neowinian statements plugged from thin air.

Albert said,
"Nokia has proven that even low-end devices can have a quality feel to them"

proof? example? or is this another one of those typical neowinian statements plugged from thin air.


Just go into a local T-Mobile store and check out the 521 while not as pretty as the 520 but you can see the quality.

recursive said,
The 520 is being sold at a loss, and costs almost 40% more. Of course it looks better.
Sometimes, you pay for what you get. In this, it's definitely true.

recursive said,
The 520 is being sold at a loss, and costs almost 40% more. Of course it looks better.

You think Nokia can afford to sell phones at a loss. According to reports it is sold at a smaller margin 25% I believe compared to normally making 30%+ on a device.

I'm not sure what FirefoxOS is aiming for... This looks like a slightly beefed up feature phone. It may fill a gap between the lesser feature phones Nokia Asha and Nokia 520, but I fear it can't compete with the 520 feature wise. However, it is super cheap, so maybe they're aiming at the disposable phone market -- assuming such a market exists and is demanding throwaway phones. If the phone doesn't last, just buy another!

Edited by ahinson, Aug 29 2013, 12:03pm :

The dumb phone market is still HUGE - think India, China and Africa which makes up nearly 1/2 of the planets population and if you can grab them now with a cheap phone... where do you think Nokia made a huge chunk of it's cash.

1) Can you remove the default applications like the phone function?
2) How does it handle other apps that can replicate 'restricted' functions like making phone calls, do you have to allow them or can malicious apps just use these functions without warning?

n_K said,
1) Can you remove the default applications like the phone function?
2) How does it handle other apps that can replicate 'restricted' functions like making phone calls, do you have to allow them or can malicious apps just use these functions without warning?
I don't have this device, but I have the GP Peak...

1. There are a number of apps that can't be removed (as of now), which are: Phone, Camera, Gallery, Settings, Marketplace, Music, Browser, Messages, Contacts, Calendar, Clock, FM Radio, E-Mail, Usage, Video, and Importer.

2. You get all your apps from the Marketplace, which is basically a simple app store anyone can check out (https://marketplace.firefox.com/). You can also ask for installation when browsing the web. There are various API's called WebAPI's (https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/WebAPI) that allow for access to hardware specific features. Many of these require a user grant the app permission, or that the app be authenticated by being hosted (and accepted) on the Marketplace. So it depends, but there are restricted API's.

They Could have made the outer body a bit better, the plastic quality looks really horrible, don't think it will last in my hands for more than a week

There's only one reason why Mozilla would team up with ZTE: (low) cost. I wouldn't expect any ZTE device to be designed to the standards of a much more-experienced competitor's.

well, i guess they didn't had much choice as nokia is tied with windows and samsung's 2nd project is tizen, sony,HTC,LG aren't much into supporting other platforms