First Firefox OS Smartphones Will Be Sold Through eBay for $80

By Wesley Fenlon

The ZTE Open is hitting several countries with carrier backing, but US and UK residents can grab the phone on eBay for a no-strings-attached $80.

Remember Firefox OS, Mozilla's open alternative to Android or iOS and all the rest? Reading about the mobile operating system is one thing, but actually using it is a bit more of a challenge. Despite its launch earlier this year, there's no waltzing into a Best Buy and buying a Firefox OS store. But thanks to Chinese phonemaker ZTE, you'll soon be able to waltz onto the web and pick up Firefox OS's first piece of hardware, the Open phone, on eBay.

ZTE isn't a big name in the US, but the company's low-cost phones made it the fourth largest phonemaker in 2012. Firefox OS's first phone will apparently be open in more ways than one, since ZTE plans to sell the device straight to consumers instead of going through carriers.

And the phone will be cheap, too--$80 in the US and £59.99 in the UK. Of course, the specs also reflect the price--the Open uses a 3.5-inch 480x320 display with two-point touch sensing, and minus most of the bells and whistles you'd expect from a more expensive smartphone. Several South American and European countries have carriers on board selling the ZTE Open and, at some point, other Firefox OS phones.

ZTE and Mozilla are vague about when, exactly, the phone will be available, but it will be soon. ZTE's announcement says one month after the Open's commercial launch, which just happened in the last few weeks. If you want to try out Firefox OS, you can save up $80 to spend on eBay. Or you could check out Mozilla's Firefox OS desktop simulator and get a taste of the operating system before buying.