Alcatel has confirmed that its OneTouch Fire E smartphone will be available in South Africa on 1 April through mobile operator MTN for a price of R1 699. The handset is powered by Mozilla’s Firefox OS and will be the first such handset in the South African market.
In December Mozilla announced that it was rolling out Firefox OS-powered devices in a number of new countries including South Africa, but didn’t provide information on specific models or timing. Handsets running Firefox OS are already available in 28 countries in 14 different models.
Firefox OS is an icon-based mobile operating system that can be heavily customised, runs HTML5-based applications and includes data usage monitoring apps and privacy features right out of the box. The Fire E includes a 4.5-inch display, dual-core processor, 5-megapixel camera and 4GB of internal storage.
Ernst Wittmann, country manager for Alcatel OneTouch in Southern Africa, says he can’t confirm whether or not other South African operators will hop on the Firefox OS bandwagon, though Android-powered Alcatel handsets are already available through Cell C, MTN and Vodacom.
Meanwhile, at this week’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, mobile operator Orange announced a budget Firefox OS handset, the Orange Klif, a dual-SIM, 3.5-inch display device that’s expected to retail for less than $40 (R470). Although Orange doesn’t provide network operator services in South Africa is does run an online store selling handsets and other devices, which means South Africans might soon see the Klif, too.
With its R1 699 price tag the Fire E will have to stiff competition from budget and mid-range Android phones, Nokia Asha devices, entry-level Windows Lumia handsets and operators’ own branded handsets.