Mozilla Firefox OS Smartphone Details Emerge

Google might soon have some company in its Android operating system's universe. Mozilla has released details of two smartphones that will be running Firefox OS, a new operating system named after the developer's vaunted open source browser and based on HTML5.

The developer-targeted phones -- one entry-level and another a higher-end unit -- will be made by Geeksphone, a venture-funded device maker based in Madrid, Spain. Expected to be available later this year, Firefox OS-based phones will join similar devices running Sailfish, Tizen and Ubuntu open source software expected this year, plus those with Android, iOS and others in what is shaping up to be a somewhat crowded market.

Dubbed Keon, the lower-end unit will be built around a 3.5-inch, 420-x-380-pixel LCD and a Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 system-on-chip running at 1GHz with one ARM core each for apps and graphics. It will come with Wi-Fi N, GPS, HSPA (3G) and EDGE (2G) radios. According to specs posted on the Geeksphone website, Keon will support over-the-air updates and will be equipped with 512 MB of system memory, 4 GB for storage, 3MP back camera, MicroSD and MicroUSB slots and sensors for ambient light, G-force and proximity. Keon will ship unlocked, ready to receive any a SIM card of any compatible carrier.

[Related: Mozilla Targets Developers With New Firefox 16 Features ]

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The higher-end Peak model will feature the Snapdragon S4, which includes two ARM Cortex application cores plus an Adreno 305 GPU to drive its 4.3-inch 960-540 (qHD) IPS panel. That Qualcomm SoC model runs at 1.2 GHz. The Peak unit will have the same 512 MB of system memory, 4 GB of storage, MicroSD and MicroUSB slots and sensors for ambient light, G-force and proximity. It will also have the same Wi-Fi N, GPS, HSPA (3G) and EDGE (2G) radios, but includes an 8MP back camera and a 2MP front sensor.

A prototype of one of the devices was dubbed one of 10 smartphones that stole the show at CES in Las Vegas earlier this month. Preview editions of the new phones could be available as early as February. To help developers target its new platform, Mozilla offers a Firefox OS simulator for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.