July 10, 2007 Leave a comment
After seemingly endless delays, the OpenMoko phone is here. The first version of the NEO 1973 mobile phone, which carries the Linux kernel inside and is not locked to a specific network, is available for purchase from OpenMoko.com. It’s not as jaw-droppingly pretty as the iPhone, but it shares a design philosophy — no buttons, just a screen — and it’s ready to be loaded with any number of open-source software applications. (Though, according to Gadget Lab, so is the iPhone).
The base version of the NEO sells for $300. It has a 2.8″ VGA touch screen, a micro SD card slot, a USB port and 2.5G GSM quad band capability.
Keep in mind that this unit (the GTA01) was pushed out early so developers could begin writing device drivers, custom GUIs and some cool apps for the phone. The next revision (GTA02), which will be available starting at $450 in October, will be ready for the mass market. It will have wi-fi, 3-D motion sensors and added graphics accelerators. So this phone isn’t exactly an iPhone killer — the next one will be a contender. AptUsTech has a nice comparison of the NEO 1973 and the iPhone.
I’m going to try to hold out for the GTA02, but we’ll see if I make it. Bottom line is, I am getting one of these. I’ll probably keep the iPhone also, even if it’s just as a wi-fi enabled iPod. Which phone I’ll use on a day to day basis remains to be seen, but the more I use the iPhone the more its closed architecture is a limiting factor. If rumors of a pending firmware upgrade prove true and it does in fact allow real 3rd party apps things could change quickly. In that case I may just carry around two phones :) If you’re interested in the GTA01 you can find more details here.