When you're building a mobile operating system, it can be helpful to have some signposts along the way for developers to follow. Google's got its Nexus line for just that purpose, and Mozilla's Firefox OS took a step closer to putting a reference device into developers' hands on Tuesday with preorders for the Firefox OS Flame.
Originally announced earlier this year at Mobile World Congress, the Flame is the first globally available reference device for the mobile operating system. For $170, you can now preorder Flame at e-commerce site Everybuying.com from today until June 10, except in Japan. The phones are expected to ship before June 30, and take around four weeks to arrive after ordered.
The Flame "was designed for our developer and contributor community, so we worked with the manufacturer, T2Mobile to keep the price as low as possible," Asa Dotzler, Mozilla's director of Firefox OS participation, wrote in a blog post announcing the preorders.
He said the phone's hardware specifications represent the midtier Firefox OS devices coming later this year. Interestingly, the phones will have a software-configurable RAM state so that the Flame can emulate less-powerful devices.
After a generally well-received launch in a dozen or so countries last year, Mozilla is continuing to back the Firefox OS platform as a necessary project to ensure that the Web stays open as it goes mobile. That's a hard road to hew to when up against mobile giants like Apple, Google, and Samsung. But Mozilla hopes that promoting a globally available reference phone like the Flame will give developers a taste of what's possible.
The Flame comes powered by a Qualcomm MSM8210 Snapdragon chip with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor; a 4.5-inch FWVGA screen; a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash and a front-facing 2-megapixel camera; 8GB of storage; RAM that can be customized between 256MB and 1GB; near-field chip (NFC) support; dual-SIM card slots; 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 3.0; and an 1,800 mAh battery charged via micro-USB. It will run on GSM four bands: 850, 900, 1,800, and 1,900MHz.
In ramping up production of the Flame phone, Mozilla has been forced to delay shipping 500 Firefox OS tablets to its Tablet Contribution Program participants, the first tablets powered by Firefox OS. The company's entire shipping operation is run by one person, according to Dotzler.
"We're about 25 percent of the way through shipping the tablets and will strive to get the remainder out in the coming week or two," he said.
Correction, May 29 at 12:02 p.m. PT: This story has been updated with Asa Dotzler's correct job title. He is Mozilla's director of Firefox OS participation.