KDDI will be the first Japanese mobile carrier to bring Firefox OS to Japan – but its first Firefox OS phone will arrive at an unusual price point for Mozilla's open-source OS: 50,000 yen, or around $415.
While most Firefox OS partners have been shipping devices with humble specs at rock-bottom prices, KDDI's entry, dubbed the Fx0, will be a high-end handset built by LG that ships enclosed in a novel case created by designer Tokujin Yoshioka.
Yoshioka's design resembles an LG G3 but is made from translucent rose-gold colored plastic, giving a partial view of the phone's internals. The front side also features a large gold home button printed with the Firefox OS logo.
Underneath the flashy exterior, the Fx0 includes a number of features that previous Firefox OS phones have not, starting with a reasonably fast processor. It's based on an ARM-compatible quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8926 SoC clocked at 1.2GHz, which still isn't much by the standards of modern Android phones but is a big step up from the single-core CPUs found in some Firefox OS kit.
The Fx0's other specs similarly outstrip those of the Firefox OS Flame, Mozilla's reference design for mid-tier hardware. It has a 4.7-inch screen with 720-by-1280 pixel resolution, 1.5GB of RAM, and 16GB of onboard storage, all of which place it at the top of the heap of Firefox OS devices.
It's also the first Mozilla-powered handset to support 4G LTE mobile data, which was only made possible by the recent Firefox OS 2.0 update.
"A simple local network can be created by simply touching Fx0 devices," KDDI's spec sheet explains. "Furthermore, the Web-cast function is equipped, which enables easy data sharing, such as currently playing video, Photo, and other digital content, between devices within the local network."
The carrier has also equipped the device with Japanese language input software developed jointly with Omron Software, which it says makes the Fx0 the first Firefox OS phone to allow Japanese character input using flick and toggle gestures.
Whether all of this will convince Japanese consumers to drop a few hundred dollars on a device running Mozilla's little-known and low-selling OS, of course, remains an open question. The Fx0 will sell for around 30 per cent cheaper than KDDI's Au subsidiary sells an entry-level iPhone 6 for, but four times the price of a ZTE Open C bought by mail order.
KDDI says it will begin sales of the Fx0 in a limited release at its own shops and online on Christmas Day, to be followed by a general release beginning on January 6. ®