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Alcatel One Touch Fire

Thursday, February 28, 2013

 

 

BARCELONA, Spain--The Alcatel One Touch Fire is the first phone to run Firefox OS, new software that aims to light a fire under Android.

The 3.5-inch Fire is a dinky little number wrapped in a cheerful, brightly colored plastic casing. The rounded corners and vibrant look -- including signature Firefox orange -- give it a chunky, playful appearance.

 

The Firefox OS interface is very simple, and certainly easy to get to grips with. On the home screen there's a tray at the bottom containing useful shortcuts, including icons for your text messages, phone dialer, and Firefox browser. There's also a big thumbs-up icon that allows you to send feedback about the phone.

 

Swipe right and you see all your apps arranged in a grid, which will be familiar to anyone who's used Android. But unlike Android, on the model I tried there's no option to rearrange apps or move them to the home screen. Alcatel says this will be included at some stage.

To visit the Firefox OS app store, swipe to the left and you're greeted with a grid of icons representing the different categories of apps, such as camera apps or sport-related apps. It's a neat introduction to the app store, much cleaner and simpler than the barrage of featured apps on the front page of many other app stores.

 

If it struggles with the basics, I'm dubious that the single-core 1GHz Qualcomm processor and its 256MB of RAM can do a decent job with games, Web browsing, and other activities that are now standard on smartphones.

 

The Fire also has a 3.2-megapixel camera, but it wasn't ready for use on our test model.

The phone comes with a 2GB microSD card, or you can add a bigger card for up to 32GB of storage for your movies and music, apps, and snaps.

It's too early to tell if Firefox and the Fire's problems will be ironed out. Much depends on the phone networks and how they customize the phone -- and how they price it. I want to like Firefox OS, and if I'd never used a smartphone before I probably would. But with this first impression, Firefox OS simply doesn't offer enough to tempt me away from the wealth of cheap Android phones that are every bit as cute, match the Fire's specs, and are backed by an established, jam-packed app store.

 

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