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iPhone-like Linux phone ready for hackers

Jul 9, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 11 views

A project to build an open, user-extensible Linux-based mobile phone has opened its online store for business. About 1,000 OpenMoko Neo1973 phones are available initially, primarily targeting hackers and developers, with general availability of a “mass market” phone expected… in October.

The Neo1973 was announced last November, at the first Open Source in Mobile Conference in Amsterdam. Developers have been able to buy working prototypes since March. However, hardware problems prevended wider distribution, according to OpenMoko leader Moss-Pultz.

Like Apple's newly launched iPhone, the Neo1973 eschews hardware buttons in favor of a touchscreen. Its 2.8-inch TFT touchscreen has a resolution of 640 x 480 (VGA) — double that of the iPhone's 480 x 320 display.

Both the iPhone and the Neo1973 use Samsang processors based on ARM cores — a 266Mhz version for the Neo1973, compared to a 667MHz model for the iPhone. Whereas the Apple-branded Samsung part in the iPhone is actually a multi-chip module integrating flash and RAM in the same physical package, the Neo1973 appears to use a more traditional external memory arrangement.

Additional similarities with the iPhone are an integral AGPS (assisted global positioning system) receiver and a 2.5G quad-band GSM/GPRS radio baseband.

Other hardware features of the Neo1973 include:

  • USB 1.1, switchable between client and host (unpowered)
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • Micro SD slot
  • “High quality” audio codec, according to OpenMoko

OpenMoko is currently in the process of spinning out from parent company FIC, a large Taiwanese PC and mobile device manufacturer — another cause of shipment delays, Moss-Pultz suggested late last month in an email to various mailing lists.

In his note to the lists, Moss-Pultz wrote, in part, “We absolutely, passionately, believe that something as fundamental to our lives as the mobile phone must be open. The [FIC] CEO and Chairman are the two greatest supporters.”

“Neo Advanced” kit
(click to enlarge)


The website was launched over the weekend. An online store there offers limited quantities of a basic OpenMoko phone and a developer model. The Neo Base sells for $300, while the $450 “Neo Advanced” version adds a JTAG/serial board, development cables, second MicroSD slot, and industrial-looking plastic carry case.

General availability of a “mass market” version of the phone is slated for October, Moss-Pultz said.

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