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Spice Fire One unboxing and first impressions: the smartphone for the next billion

|September 2 2014 |Smart Phones, Spice Mobiles, Mozilla

“Despite its newness, Firefox OS is likely to come out as a strong contender for smartphones, at least in the budget category”

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The Firefox OS has enabled device makers to offer smartphones at irresistible price points, while promising features and functionality which is easily comparable to the cheapest of Android smartphones available in the market. Recently Intex launched the first ever Firefox-powered smartphone for the Indian market, the Cloud FX (first impressions), and following that, device maker Spice has also launched its first Firefox smartphone, the Fire One. Here is the unboxing and our first impressions of the Spice Fire One. 

More value for money in the box

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The Spice Fire One comes inside a tastefully-coloured box, with a large Firefox mascot hiding the device. And just to add a dash of colour, Spice has gone with a highlight of its brand colour on top of the blue box that the device comes in. Inside the box, you will see the smartphone unit itself on top of a cardboard separator that houses the rest of accessories for the device. Underneath it, you get the USB cable for both charging as well as data transfers. There is a 3.5mm audio headset also included in the box, and along with that, you get the standard wall charger with a 550mAh output rating. Although you can use a 1Amp charger to charge the device quickly, it is advised to use the supplied charger so as not to damage the battery and ensure its safe use.

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In addition to the regular accessories, you also get a free silicone cover that has been included in the box as well. The prime problem that any user would face is the low internal storage on the device, but spice has thought it through and bundled a 4GB microSD card too. Along with all this, you will get the user manual, the warranty card, and the list of service centres across the country as reference materials.

Feels just about adequately equipped

Firefox as a mobile operating system is designed to work well with devices that do not need big hardware to flaunt. The reason for this is the fact that most of the computing needed by the system is done by remote servers and the device only need just a little bit of computing muscle to get the process up and running. In essence, Firefox OS is basically a web browser that allows users to save apps, much like bookmarks and access them whenever they feel like doing so. However, the device offers much more than that, so let us take a closer look at the Fire One and take its first-hand experience.

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Not much different from an average low-cost smartphone, the Fire One also offers similar look and feel. The device has been made available in three colour variants including white, black and Firefox’s official orange colour. All the devices feature a matte finish, which is great for resistance against scratches. The front of the device features a glass-based construction, which at the price of Rs 2,299 is superb and will definitely prove beneficial for the users in the longer run owing to its resistance to scratches.

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The smartphone features four hardware buttons, with two for volume control and one for power/standby being placed on the left and right sides respectively. The fourth and the last key is placed on the front – the home key, which is of the capacitive type. Navigation on Firefox OS is built around a single-button usage, and the return key and shortcuts etc have been provided as a part of the application interface itself.

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The Spice Fire One features a small but comfortable screen size of 3.5-inches with a resolution of 480 x 320 pixels offering a pixel density of 165ppi. The display is vibrant but pixelation is evident die to the lower resolution. For connectivity, the dual-SIM smartphone supports 2.5G networks for calling and data access via GPRS or EDGE. Wireless connectivity is also offered through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, while for file transfers, the device offers a USB connection as well in addition to Bluetooth.

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As for its computing power, there is nothing much to flaunt as the smartphone comes powered with a 1GHz single-core processor from Spreadtrum, and to compliment it, there is a paltry 128MB of RAM and 256MB of internal storage. Out of this 256MB, a meagre 73MB is available to the users, though there is the option of adding more using a microSD card. As a bonus, the company does offer a 4GB card with the device. Although the whole setup might sound circa 2009, this hardware is enough to do justice to apps and utilities on the Firefox OS and while using it, the performance is easily comparable to an entry-level Android smartphone as well.

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While the smartphone comes pre-loaded with basic apps like Facebook and Twitter, you can download more from the Firefox Marketplace. However, the app store is not as elaborate as the ones for Android and iOS devices, and there are many popular apps missing from Firefox including the very popular WhatsApp Messenger. However, there is a workaround available for using WhatsApp with the Connect A2 app, which comes pre-installed. All the apps are based on HTML5 and hardly consume any space.

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The Spice Fire One is superior to the Intex cloud Fx in the camera department by offering a VGA front camera as well, along with its 1.3-megapixel camera at the back, supplemented by an LED flash. The quality of the optics is below average, but for the price, the inclusion of dual cameras is great.

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With this, we conclude the unboxing and first impressions of the new Fire One, the Firefox-powered smartphone from Spice. To find out more in-depth information and see how well does the device fair in the real world, do check out the full review that we will be publishing in the coming days.

*Photos and video by Pratik Vyas



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