New York — New smartphones are on the way in the low-, mid- and high-tier segments of the market.
At the low end, ZTE launched its second-generation smartphone based on the open Mozilla Firefox OS. For the midtier, LG is preparing to ship its LTE-equipped F 70, and in the high tier, Huawei unveiled the Ascend P7, which the company called one of the slimmest LTE smartphones in the world at 6.5mm (0.25 inches) in depth.
ZTE’s Open C is the first smartphone with latest version of the Firefox OS, which inventor Mozilla said is designed to bring down the cost of smartphones by using HTML5 technology to create phone features and apps. It’s also designed to accelerate the development of low-cost mobile apps that target small niches and enable developers to distribute apps directly with no need for gatekeepers such as Apple or Google, although Mozilla operates a Firefox Marketplace to sell apps.
The new model, like ZTE’s first Firefox OS smartphone launched in August 2013, is available unlocked on eBay in the U.S. It’s also available in more than 20 European countries plus Russia. It’s priced at $99, while the first model is currently priced at $69.
The new model steps up processing power and adds HSPA+ 21Mbps 3G technology in the 800/1,900MHz bands, up from the first model’s 3G 7.2Mbps HSDPA technology. The new model features a 4-inch touchscreen, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB embedded memory, 1,400 mAh battery, assisted GPS, 3-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and quad-band GSM.
The latest version of the Firefox OS offers such new features as improved email functionality with POP3 support, enhanced MMS capabilities, direct music player access from the lock screen or notifications bar, improved sorting to make it easier to find photos, and advanced Bluetooth to enable the transfer of multiple files simultaneously. The OS also delivers faster scrolling performance and faster startup time of system apps such as calendar, address book and camera, ZTE said.
For the midtier, LG said it plans North American availability in the coming weeks of the LTE-equipped F70, which features a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, Android 4.4 OS, 4.5-inch WVGA 800 by 480 IPS display with 207 ppi, and a removable 2,440 mAh battery, said to offer the largest capacity in its class. It also features 3G HSPA+ 21 network technology, 4GB or 8GB embedded memory depending on the market, 32GB MicroSD card slot, 5-megapixel main camera and front VGA camera.
Like a growing number of LG phones and tablets, the F70 features Knock Code, which lets users power on and unlock the phone by tapping the screen using any one of more than 86,000 knock combinations. A knock pattern using from two to eight taps can be entered on any area of the screen, even if the display is off.
Other key F70 features include thin bezel, 1GB RAM, Bluetooth 4.0 with NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and assisted GPS.
The F70 also comes with the Easy Home user-interface feature to simplify the home screen and increase the size of icons and fonts to make the transition to a smartphone easier for first-time users, LG said. Plug & Pop automatically recommends options that are most likely to be used when a headset or USB cable is detected. Guest Mode lets users keep content private when sharing the phone with family and friends. And LG’s Quick Window protective case lets users view and access select functions — such as time, music and text messages — without opening the cover.
In the higher-tier market, Huawei unveiled its flagship LTE-equipped P7, the thinner successor to the P6. It will be available in China and multiple European and Asian countries starting this month, with other markets to follow.
Despite is thin 6.5mm profile, the Ascend P7 packs a 2,500 mAh lithium-polymer battery. It also features a 5-inch 1,920 by 1080 FullHD display with 445 ppi and 16:9 aspect ratio, Android 4.4.2 OS, 1.8GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB memory, 32GB MicroSD slot, Corning Gorilla Glass 3 front and rear covers, and choice of colors.
Huawei is promoting the phone’s camera capabilities, which include 1080p video capture on both the 8-megapixel front and 13-megapixel main cameras; Sony's fourth-generation BSI sensor for low-light performance; f/2.0 aperture on the 13-megapixel main camera’s 5P non-spherical lens; and Huawei’s Ultra Snapshot function. The latter makes the phone camera-ready in 1.2 seconds after the user double-clicks the down-volume button while in locked mode.
With the 8-megapixel 5P non-spherical lens on the front-facing camera and a panorama function, users can take a group of people in a selfie. A Voice Photo function takes photos accompanied by 10-second audio clips for social-media uploads.
Huawei's proprietary Image Signal Processor (ISP) technology delivers SLR functions such as autofocus, white balance, noise reduction and one-touch exposure metering.
When the battery reaches 10 percent charge, a power-saving mode dims the screen and powers down all but basic functions such as voice calling and the contact list. The mode stretches the remaining 10 percent of battery power to last 24 hours on standby