Thursday, May 15, 2014

ZTE Open C (Hardware Review)

Woo hoo!

I just got my ZTE Open C from eBay and I'm very happy with it. This is my third Firefox OS phone and so far it is really great. I wanted something I could try to use, as opposed to something I could program. I'll be running it through its paces, but so far I'm extremely happy with the $99 unlocked price I paid to the ZTE store on US EBay.

Why is this cool? It seems faster than the ZTE Open I have. The official Mozilla specs are at https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/Firefox_OS/Developer_phone_guide/Phone_specs#Device_specifications. From those it looks like the specs are the same as the Geeksphone Peak, but I'm investigating that a little more.

It looks like this:


The Geeksphone Peak has this processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 8225 and the ZTE Open C has this one: Qualcomm MSM8210 Snapdragon. If someone wants to tell me the difference, that would be cool. What is cool about the Open C is that it has very similar specs to the "Flame" Firefox OS reference device. Same processor, anyway.

Of course the first thing I did was to hook it up to my PC and fire up App Manager. Here are a few screen shots. Oh, I forgot to say that the Open C comes with Firefox OS 1.3 out of the box! And when I hooked it up to my 64-bit Windows 7 box, it had more drivers than the one or two the earlier phones had. Here's a snap of the drivers that Windows Update found for me.


Getting Windows Update to do all of that is downright amazing. Someone has a friend in Redmond!

So here are a few screens showing off version 1.3 of Firefox OS.

Here is the home screen:

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Those icons at the top take you to selections of relevant apps. I don't know how they are chosen, but I'm sure people will care about them.

At the bottom you see the usual suspects: phone, address book, messages, browser, and radio.

The next screen looked like this:



The usual suspects: camera, gallery, email, calendar, twitter, facebook, settings, and marketplace.

There was a third screen:


This one had music, video, clock, notes, usage, here maps, and ... SOFTWARE UPDATE. 

If you click on that, here's what you get:



I guess ZTE learned their lesson and now there's a button on the screen to update when version 1.4 is ready to go. Thank you! After all the suffering we all did to update the original ZTE Open to anything beyond 1.0, it's nice that they're starting out at 1.3. 

One other cool thing (of many) that I just discovered is that the Notes app connects to Evernote! Very easily, too. By the way, all I had to do was drop in a spare SIM card and add a 16GB SD card, and I was ready to go. 

By the way, when I plugged it in, Windows recognized the device and showed me this:


The first drive is the 16GB SD card I put in (okay, everybody lies about memory) and the second drive is what ZTE considers as memory you can use for music, video, pictures, etc. I had a choice about which drive to use but I chose my external SD card for all my music, etc.

Here's some of the music I downloaded right away:


A prize for anyone who knows where those songs are from!

I've got plenty of room for storage:


I then ran my app that looks at inner and outer dimensions and here is what it produced:



However, alert readers will notice that those numbers don't match the numbers in the spec at Mozilla I cited at the top of this page. J. Ryan Stinnett pointed me to the article at https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Mobile/Viewport_meta_tag#A_pixel_is_not_a_pixel. I will need to digest this article and see if there's some way I can make apps that use these different "pixels". My app works just fine and the ball bounces around the edges, but it sounds like if I use viewport, I can get a bigger super-pixel screen. 

So far, the ZTE Open C is definitely a winner ... especially at $99. Get yours today from http://item.ebay.com/291125433026. Right now when I went to check, it said 332 had been sold and 8 people had bought this in the last 8 hours. They're having a 5% off sale if you buy 2! In case you're worried, the seller, ZTE_US, has a 99.% rating, which is great!

I'll be trying out more apps and doing more comparisons of the ZTE Open C and the Geeksphone Peak in the next few days, so stay tuned, but not iTuned!