Mast Kalandar

bandar's colander of random jamun aur aam

Tue, 15 Oct 2013

Firefox OS in ZTE Open

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This post carries a warning at the end!

The ZTE Open phone which runs Firefox OS became available in India via recently. Since the HTC Wildfire (Buzz) that I use has a few "dead spots" on its touch screen, it seemed like an appropriate time to try this phone out.

I paid slightly more than the Rs. 6500/- that is displayed as the price today (which may be explained by the slightly higher USD-INR conversion rate a few weeks ago), but the price seemed reasonable.

The phone works quite well as a phone (which is its primary purpose for me!) and has some reasonable pre-installed applications for usual phone-like things (messaging, e-mail etc.). One missing "app" that is worth downloading right away is "vcardin" which allows one to import contacts from a vcard file. (By default the phone gives the user only one option --- of importing contacts from Facebook --- which is not quite what I expected!)

Though users of fancy modern touch devices seem to have reviewed this phone and found it "laggy". I have noticed no such difficulties (when compared with the HTC Wildfire!).

However, this phone has a serious drawback for me. Please note that what is narrated below is based one person's experience in a specific location. Moreover, if you are OK with using this phone with Wi-Fi (or 2G/Edge when outside Wi-Fi range), then you may see no problem with this phone.

The problem is lack of 3G connectivity. I have tried this with numerous SIM cards from different telecoms from our campus (which is admittedly at one corner of Mohali/Chandigarh --- not a major metro) --- no luck! The same SIM cards do connect to the 3G network on the HTC Wildfire.

The phone (which is imported by the eBay seller to India from the USA) supports UMTS 850/1900 for 3G. This is most likely the problem. The ZTE Open is being sold on eBay from USA, UK and Hong Kong. It is the Hong Kong one that supports the widest range of UMTS bands. It is my surmise that that should be the phone which should be imported to India if 3G is to work for local users of the phone. For some reason the Hong Kong based seller does not want to deliver to India.

I am planning to write to the importer and to ZTE to ask for further clarity on this issue. I will post updates here as I get responses. However, if 3G connectivity is essential for your use of this phone, I suggest that you hold off buying it until this matter is clarified.

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