Meet the company behind the $25 Mozilla Firefox OS smartphone

Affordable phoning

A smartphone that carries a suggested retail price of a mere $25 (around £15) was always going to capture the imagination and grab headlines, but the agenda is really about making the feature phone as relevant to the masses as a black-and-white television set.

We met Diana Jovin, VP Corporate Development & Communications at Spreadtrum to see what's coming up for the little-known fabless company, which is now part of the state-owned Tsinghua Holdings.

Partnering up

Spreadtrum hit the limelight on Sunday 23 February after being presented as Mozilla's chip partner for a $25 smartphone based on Firefox OS. It's worth mentioning that until then, all smartphones based on Mozilla's OS were using Qualcomm SoCs.

It is currently ranked third in terms of SoC chipment hitting 350m units in 2012 with 140m feeding the smartphone market. Diana predicts that the majority of SoCs shipped in 2014 by the Chinese company will be for the smartphone market.

The firm currently occupies the void left by Mediatek as the latter focuses on higher margin products. Firefox, Jovin claims, will accelerate the adoption of smartphones because it is optimised for very low power solutions.

A brief look at the $25 smartphone

She handed TechRadar Pro a shipping unit (not a prototype) of the $25 smartphone; it is built by consumer giant Haier for very big Chinese operator.

That device runs on the SC6821, which is a single-core ARM Cortex-A5 SoC clocked at 1GHz with 256MB of RAM, 2GB flash and a 320 x 240 pixel 3.5inch display. It has a rear 2-megapixel camera but no front facing one.

It is reasonably well built and reminds us of the Huawei Ideos U8150 or the LG Optimus L3, both of which can be found for well under £50 and come with a worse processor.

Spreadtrum partners however are aiming for a much lower price point; whether or not the masses will embrace Firefox OS though remains to be seen.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.