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First Look: Firefox OS on the Geeksphone Keon

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First Look: Firefox OS on the Geeksphone Keon

3:07 /

What does a smartphone based on the Firefox browser look like? Here's one ultracheap handset that paves the way for Firefox phones.

What would a smartphone look like that's based off with the Firefox browser? Like this, of course. I'm Jessica Dolcourt for CNET. This is the Geeksphone Keon. This is an interesting device. We first saw it at Mobile World Congress in Spain last February. This is a developer preview version, so it's meant to go specifically for developers. They can use it as an environment to test and create applications for the very new Firefox Operating System. This is not intended for people to actually pick up and buy. But it does give us a very interesting window into phones likes this that consumers eventually will buy. Now, the Firefox OS phones will go to emerging markets, and they're going to be very inexpensive. The operating system is meant to be extremely lightweight; components aren't expected to get very high. So, you will find a whole range of different features, but these are never meant to be very premium phones. They're for very specific purpose, mostly affordability. One of the most notable things about the Keon is its blazing orange color, which I personally kind of like. This is a nod to Mozilla and Firefox, of course. It's got a soft touch finish that I find really comfortable. It's got the sort of rounded edges on the back, makes it comfortable to hold. The screen does protrude a little bit from the sides, which kind of dampens down the comfort level just a little bit. But it does make it very easy to pop off the back cover and get to the microSD card slot and SIM card slot underneath. The operating system itself is sort of like a cross between Android iOS and Android phone. You've got very familiar elements like a notification shade that pulls down in front, you've got a couple of different Home screens; there's multi-tasking as well. You navigate with a touch-sensitive button at the very bottom. There is camera on the back of this phone, it's 3 megapixels, also takes video. The camera app extremely simple, but it's mostly so that developers can use it to just make sure that things work. This phone really isn't intended for excellent camera quality. Navigating the phone is pretty easy. You can slide it over to the left to get to a bunch of grouped icons. This is organized by things like social, game, music, movies, weather and TV. So, it's nice that there are a lot of apps to get started. Everything is pretty much based on HTML5, so these are web apps. One problem I had is that most of them are not yet skinned and optimized for mobile. They will be in the future because, of course, this is a developer phone. But it's nice to be able to get an idea of what the apps might look like. This handset itself has some very low-end specs, again, to keep it cheap. But I do notice a lot of wagginess. So, that's a problem if you've got a phone that's based off of the web. Speeds are also gonna be pretty slow, 2G and 3G. There won't be any 4G support because this isn't intended for markets that really rely on 4G LTE. At this point in the game, Firefox OS is in very early development stages. We're gonna be keeping an eye on that and on phones like this Keon, that showcase the operating system and what it can do. It's a very interesting alternative for emerging market. I'm Jessica Dolcourt, this has been the Geeksphone Keon developer preview for Firefox OS.

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