Neo FreeRunner Phone Hits Market, Provides Open Access

An open cell phone, the OpenMoko Neo FreeRunner, is now commercially available, with shipments starting today. The open access of the phone's software, under the General Public License, bucks a trend in the mobile phone industry.

FreeRunner uses open source GNU/Linux as its operating system and relies on software utilities for dialing, SMS and maintaining contact lists. OpenMoko designed FreeRunner to take advantage of the hardware capabilities in cell phones, which are increasingly evolving into small yet powerful handheld computers.

Using the OpenMoko platform, developers can modify the software's function and appearance. The software package will allow third-party applications to be written and compiled for it using C/C++. The computer-aided design (CAD) files for the hardware are freely available under a creative commons license for designers to modify.

FreeRunner will be available in 850 MHz and 900 MHz tri-band GSM models to ensure world compatibility. The black, oval-shaped FreeRunner features a 2.8-inch 640x480 VGA touchscreen and weighs 6.5 ounces. Other features include 802.11b/g wireless access, AGPS, GPRS 2.5G, Bluetooth 2.0, two three-axis motion sensors, 128MB WSDRAM and 256MB NAND Flash memory.

The phone is expected to retail for $399 and will be available directly from OpenMoko and distributors in the European Union, India and North America.

OpenMoko will be featured at LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco on August 5-7.

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Will Kraft is a Web designer, technical consultant and freelance writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. Also, check out his blog at