Friday, March 14, 2014

And now for something completely different: Geeksphone Revolution review (i.e., don't buy it)

And that's the review! Thanks for reading! (I'll be here all week!)

I have hope for FirefoxOS still, that there can be a fourth way other than the locked-down walled gardens of Windows Phone and iOS, and the practically locked-down walled Google Play Services garden of Android. And plus, given how privy our phones are to our intimate data, do we really trust Google, or Microsoft, or even Apple, to safeguard that critical personal information? But while Mozilla has more trust than any of those three, if there is no hardware running FxOS natively (that doesn't need it to be flashed on like Cyanogen) it will never gain any market traction because no one wants to have to flash their phone right out of the box.

To date, it has taken me literally one entire year to get a FirefoxOS phone. I tried to order a Peak when they first came out, and they were sold out within hours. Four months later, I finally got in a preorder for a Peak Plus. After picking their nose for several months, Geeksphone apologetically said that they were not going to be able to meet certification for it, and would I like my money back or get a free Revolution instead, their next generation phone (which at that time had no specs page)? Sure, said I, still desirous of any FirefoxOS device at all, I would like a free Revolution instead, your next generation phone, and they said okay, and then nothing.

And then it finally arrived today and I eagerly opened it up ... and ...


Yes, that's exactly what you think it is on the lower right. That's an Intel inside logo on its plasticky hide. It's not an ARM device like the Peak or Peak Plus. It's an Intel Atom Z2560 that tops out at a finger-tapping 1.6GHz. It's a farking netbook in a flimsy handheld.

But, you know, if it has a good Firefox OS experience, I can forgive the fact it runs my least favourite processor family ever. I could maybe even forgive this:

Yeah, that's the startup sequence. Pretty gauche, huh?

Yes, gritting my teeth, I could forgive all that. I could forgive the cheap-o feeling case which felt like it would crack getting the back off to put the battery in. I could forgive the pixelicious 540x960 qHD screen which looks like ass compared to my 1080p Nexus 5 (and despite allegedly being an IPS LCD has a weird blue tint). I could forgive the icky CPU. I could forgive the 1GB of RAM, and in fairness, it does, at least, come with a MicroSD slot to supplement the 16GB flash. I could forgive all of these sins if it only came up in Firefox OS, which is in fact the only thing I bought it for. But no. It comes up in this:

It's bloody Android. And not even full Android: it's (pre-rooted, at least) AOSP Android 4.2. No Google apps, no custom apps. Nothing else. It comes with everything you see here and only that. And there's no way to dual-boot FirefoxOS out of the box, even though Geeksphone advertises it with FxOS on their very own web store!

Geeksphone, you suck. If I'd wanted an Android device, I'd have bought one. And in fact I have one, the stellar $350 Nexus 5, currently the best deal in Android devices ever and outclasses the $300 (€222) Revolution in virtually every metric. I bought this device to run FxOS and it's advertised to run it, but not only does it not come with it it also doesn't even include instructions on how to do so. Considering I started this entire adventure with the FxOS-specific Peak Plus, the least Geeksphone could have done after keeping my money for months is to include a MicroSD card with an Intel FirefoxOS build, instructions and a thank-you. Instead I have a piece of crap that isn't even fit to be a doorstop or a paperweight, let alone a decent smartphone. I'd say something about the battery or camera if this were a real review and not a rant, but I turned it off in disgust after five minutes, and I bet the camera's as lousy as the screen is. (Pro-tip: the camera plastic lens is covered with a plastic protector which you need to remove with the back off.)

So, when I get around to it after I stop fuming, I'll go and get a 16GB MicroSD card and try putting FxOS on it and if I brick it, I guess I'll use it for target practice. Mozilla needs to find a better hardware partner than Geeksphone. They really do. To be continued when I'm not so furious.


  1. I'm thinking about getting this one with a prepaid card:
    It's very low-end, but what can you do wrong for 100 €? I'm really curious.

    1. You know, that doesn't look bad at all for 100 euros. AND IT ACTUALLY HAS FIREFOX OS ON IT.

  2. It looks like you have to go into the About Phone menu in settings, and there's an option to uninstall Android and install Firefox OS. I don't know why they didn't just preload Firefox OS, but whatever.!zOGn7

    1. I know, and that's how I'm going to do it. But I bought a FirefoxOS phone. I didn't buy a crappy Android one, even if it can be flashed to run FxOS.

    2. I would be curious to know how their FirefoxOS is better than the Android they preinstalled?

      When I asked about the differences, Geeksphone said something about twice the battery life in Firefox (when not playing games etc.)

      However I wonder how much better FirefoxOS is practically, when it seems you can install all the FirefoxOS-apps on a high-powered Android phone with Android-Firefox installed.

      I would be curious to know if FirefoxOS has the same long-standing video recording bug that Android has?

      I was actually considering this phone mostly because it has no "custom apps", and bloatware like Google Play, and it comes pre-rooted.

  3. I'm behind times. Just bought a very nice used iPhone 3Gs (AT&T) for $59.95 including shipping, plus 2% eBay bucks back (don't talk to me about their new policy on that!), and the seller is associated with someone who gives another 2% back, right to your Paypal account. Plus, give him 5 stars and get a 60 day warranty.

    Until now all I've had is an old Motorola flip phone with Tracfone. LOL

    Will jailbreak the iPhone tomorrow. Only WiFi right now, no SIM. Probably go with H2O pay as you go, 200 talk minutes/90 days for $10. 5¢ a minute both talk and text.


Due to an increased frequency of spam, comments are now subject to moderation.