Remember OpenMoko? They’re the folks who promised, way back when Android was just a concept, that they WOULD indeed release an Android Phone. In fact, I think they vowed they would be the FIRST but it doesn’t look like that happened.
Nevertheless, they may be the second. The AndroidGuys got a hot tip that OpenMoko is reaching for a November release of a device codenamed the GTA02. Here are the rumored “specs” of the phone:
- 400/500 MHz Samsung 2442B Processor/SOC (400 minimum, ARM920T core, ARMv4T)
- 128 MB SDRAM total, 64 MB CPU internal, 64 MB external
- 256MB NAND Flash MCP package.
- Topploy VGA, 16 bit color depth, 480 x 640 pixels, 2.84″ diagonal screen size
- WiFi 802.11 b/g
- A-GPS or GPS
- 3 axis sensing accelerometer
- Touch screen over LCD is primary data entry mechanism
- Two “hard” buttons
- Internal Li-Ion or Li-Polymer battery included.
- Indicators: an LED indicator visible from the side of the unit will illuminate when charging or have missing incoming call
- 850/1800/1900 and 900/1800/1900 MHz bands must be supported
- Bluetooth (CSR BC4 or later solutions)
- Weight: ~133 grams with battery.
- 4-in-1 laser pen
- 512MB microSD Card (SanDisk/Transcend)
- 1x USB cable Standard A to mini-B connector
- 120.7 x 62.0 x 18.5 mm (4.752 x 2.441 x 0.728 inch)
- Four-ring 2.5mm stereo jack
Our biggest question is with the line reading, “Touch screen over LCD is primary data entry mechanism”… is there a secondary data entry mechanism? Because if not, Android isn’t getting an on screen QWERTY until January so that could make for some tedious impossible mobile web browsing everything.
This will be a challenging step for OpenMoko but its an important step for not only them, but other manufacturers as well. The current hierarchy of mobile manufacturers has consumers mainly purchasing products from the top 5 or 6… if you’re not one of those guys, nobody really knows who you are!
So here comes OpenMoko, launching an Android Device that will IMMEDIATELY have all the benefits and capabilities of the T-Mobile G1 in terms of the software stack. The playing field has been leveled a bit, has it not? So if OpenMoko can be successful with their GTA02 – or whatever cutesy pet name they later assign – its going to drop mobile phone prices due to increased competitive pressure AND give us a whole heckuva lot more phones to choose from.
The wild card in all of this is carrier subsidization. The reason you get your G1 for $179.99 from T-Mobile $148.88 from Wal-Mart is because the carrier is offering you a discount to commit to their service plan. Big carriers and manufacturers have a “tight” relationship and they are fairly selective about which products they’ll “endorse” by means of subsidization. You can pretty much guarantee that no major carrier will put that kind of weight behind OpenMoko’s first ever Android Device.
Personally, I’d LOVE to see OpenMoko have an outrageous success with their upcoming device… whether it launches in November or at a later date. Because if they do, it could mean a lot of great things from a lot of otherwise unknown manufacturers who have a lot to bring to the table.
We know… that’s a lot of “a lots”.
The GTA02 or FreeRunner is a real device. I have a couple here in my office. It’s a very open, very geeky smart phone. We have one flashed with Openmoko software and one with Qtopia (completely different). It doesn’t have its own keyboard like the G1 but should or could support a BT keyboard and I think most folks get to a command line via ssh on wifi or USB. Check out the very active community at openmoko.org or check out the online store at openmoko.com. I think Android will run very differently on a FreeRunner compared to a G1. The processors, etc. are very different.
Untill some time ago, I believed it would be impossible to run it very smoothly, but it seems that when the source was releaced it would become possible:
Openmoko’s FreeRunner was the real Linux phone before the G1 showed up. It’s got really great specs (640×480 display!), and it’s great to hear that they’re going to join the Android league.
These are not new Hardware, they have been around since August and are still in software Development. (Read buggy and unusable)
I would not buy one today (I did in August) because:
The software at its present rate will NEVER settle, this month it’s the Android tangent, last was the FDOM redesign, the month before was Gentoo/Debian, the month befor it was QTopia.
There is no keyboard, any work is done through real computer/ssh. Woe betide when sshd is not set up properly. Time for a reflash.
There is no stylus inbuilt, just a stupid “extra” 4in1 heavy laserpointer, which scratches the screen if kept in the same pocket.
The CPU will not work with all Android functionality, it’s ARMv4T not ARMv5 so will always be porting rather than just working. ARMv5 is mimimum for android.
The battery life SUCKS, I can run for 12 hours with minimal extras, if I turn on the WI-Fi and GPS then the phone dies in 4. This is not getting better but worse as the kernel features get bigger.
Wading through the 2 year old wiki that is a MESS to find out how to confgure anything when the instructions are different for the NEO1973 and NEOfreerunner is also a nightmare.
If you want a PDA/Phone get something else.
If you want a USB networkable gadget to do something phone connectable (eg use the phone as SMS router connected to power and a network) then this is very configurable, if you can find the instructions anywhere.