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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