BARCELONA, Spain -- At MWC this year, ZTE introduced two ultra-budget Firefox handsets: the 4-inch Open C and the more compact ZTE Open II (the sequel to the original Open). Though no pricing or availability information has been released, the Open II is aimed at emerging 3G markets outside the US.
Design The Open II is a compact device that has a smooth, almost pebble-like construction. Its wide bezels give it a notably deep chin, which is accented by a single, circular home button.
Its aesthetic actually reminds me of a more playful Grand S, ZTE's flagship handset last year. Obviously the latter has a more sophisticated, austere look, but their matte plastic bodies and rear-facing cameras look vaguely similar.
It features a 3.5-inch HVGA display with a 480x320-pixel resolution. Needless to say, it isn't the crispiest touch screen we've seen, even for a low-budget handset, nor is it the most sensitive. But you can still make out icons and text, and I was able to type out a quick message fairly easily during my time with it.
Key components and features The Open II will run on 3G networks and ship with the latest Firefox OS 1.3. Chugging the device along is a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and a 1,150mAh battery. When I briefly swiped through the home screen and launched some apps, there was a noticeable lag, but again, this phone was designed to be extremely affordable. Additional features include a 2-megapixel camera, 256MB of RAM, 2GB of ROM.
Outlook Though low-end phones are a key strategy for Mozilla to carve its own space in the mobile industry, we weren't so impressed with the previous Open handset.
CNET's Jessica Dolcourt called the predecessor "woefully underpowered," and internal speeds were slow. However, now that the Open II struts marginally better specs (a bigger battery and more ROM for example), ZTE may have a chance to change our minds about its Firefox phones. Of course, we'll have to wait and get a review unit in for a final verdict, but until then, stay tuned.