How cheap can a Smartphone get? Mozilla thinks very

February 26th, 2014 by Mark J

In this week of bountiful smartphone news where the best and brightest new devices of the mobile world are getting shown off at the Mobile World Congress Mozilla has decided to see how low it can set the smartphone price bar. The company best known for making the web browser Firefox has announced plans to create a smartphone that they hope will sell for around $25, or about £15. Not surprisingly these devices will be camping out in the basement of the low end of the smartphone market.

The supercheap handsets promised by Mozilla are going to be aimed at emerging markets where many can’t afford an averagely priced smartphone let alone some of the more expensive models. While it won’t be building the devices itself Mozilla has teamed up with a Chinese chip maker called Spreadtrum to develop a cheap chip that will allow others to make and distribute the extraordinarily affordable Firefox OS phones.

Mozilla’s main goal at the moment is to break through the $50 price barrier that separates smartphones from featurephone prices. Although the cheap handsets have yet to go into production Mozilla has been showing off a prototype and despite being smaller and less powerful it at least looks like an average low-end smartphone. The prototype called “Flame” packs a 1.2GHz snapdragon processor and 4.5” display, also offering 3G, WiFi and NFC connectivity.

As a non-profit organisation Mozilla’s aims are more noble than money-grabbing and while the emerging markets it’s targeting are waiting to be tapped into when it comes to cheap smartphones it just wants to help connect as many people as possible. Some see the move as a threat to Nokia’s own ambitions to conquer emerging markets but the new Finnish Androids at least look a lot a better even if they do cost a bit more.

It seems unlikely that such a cheap device is going to reach the UK anytime soon. However if these ultra low-end handsets are able to offer a smartphone experience that isn’t too watered down they might be able to carve themselves a niche in the global smartphone market. Even if they’re just seen as disposable devices in cash-rich countries.

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