The Geek’s Anti-iPhone

With the iPhone American launch behind us there’s talk of a big competitor from an unlikely source: Open Source. The developers of the Linux powered Neo1973 encourage hacking supplying a development kit and even a screwdriver with the handset.
 
The OpenMoko project is a community that anyone can join, to help design their ideal phone, an Open Source project to create the world’s first free mobile phone operating system.

First International Computer in Taipai developed the Neo1973 as an open platform for anyone to have a tinker with, and become part of a much larger community. The concept being that thousands of phone geeks can together produce something greater than the R&D departments of the major manufacturers.

The long term goal is that phone software won’t be tied to a phone. You can install any OpenMoko software over the whole range of phones, and if you upgrade your phone, you don’t lose the software. Bugs fixed on one phone are fixed on all.

Due to the similarity in form factor and functionality, some are referring to the Neo1973 as the anti-iPhone. Apple strictly controls all the software on their handsets, with users unable to load up third-party applications. Flipside, OpenMoko have built the OS on Linux, already Open-Source, and encourage the average user to create apps, and modify the source code with their own tweaks and bug-fixes.

The quad-band Neo1973 features a 2.8" touch-screen at 480×640 (higher res than the iPhone) with multi-touch to feature in the final release. It also has expandable memory, a replaceable battery, and an in-built GPS receiver.

A full comparison can be seen on OpenMoko’s own website.

The phone and developer kits are available now through the OpenMoko shop, but a fully-blown handset isn’t scheduled to be launched to consumers until October.