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CES 2014: Hands-on preview with the LG Fireweb Firefox phone

Mozilla is aiming its line of Firefox phones at emerging markets, promising smartphone power at sub-smartphone prices. The latest entry, the LG Fireweb, is a bigger, faster Firefox handset, but still keeps prices down. We had the chance to go hands-on with the phone at CES.

The LG Fireweb is a boxy, squarish phone, with a 1GHz processor, 4in, 320 x 480 screen and 5-megapixel camera. That gives it a leg up on the earlier ZTE Open, but it's still a lower-resolution screen than I'm used to seeing at this size. It's a 3G phone, and it has GPS and a built-in FM radio.

The major feature here, of course, is Firefox OS, and that works similarly to other Firefox phones I've seen. The 1GHz processor definitely helped; while I wouldn't call the phone completely snappy, it was less sluggish than previous Firefox phones were. Like the ZTE Open which we tested in September, the phone has a full web browser and a range of apps which are either web bookmarks or locally stored HTML5 apps. I clicked on the Wikipedia app, and scrolled through a page finding the experience much like a basic Android phone or an older iPhone 3GS.

The low-res screen is the only thing that tripped me up. It looks a lot like an iPhone 3GS, which is the same resolution – text looked blocky and heavy. But that's the price you have to pay for such an inexpensive smartphone, and the screen was much brighter and clearer than the ZTE Open's.

The LG Fireweb is sold by Telefoncia Vivo in Brazil for around £22 with a six-month service plan, which is the point: Firefox OS phones are really cheap. UK availability has not been announced.