OpenMoko Freerunner: The Arrival

On Thursday 17th July my OpenMoko Neo FreeRunner arrived from Truebox. I’ve taken a series of pictures which you can see below. I’ve been anticipating the release of the GTA02 for about a year. That’s largely because it has taken much, much longer than FIC/OpenMoko had planned to develop the hardware for the phone and get a (semi) usable software stack.

OpenMoko Package from Truebox with carry case and headphones

The packaging for the FreeRunner (or FR as it is being contracted to) is rather good. I had almost expected that it would be shipped in a blister pack, or equivalent, but instead it comes in a small black box filled with high density foam. The FR is the first thing you see when opening the box. Handling the FR gives the impression of solidness; it isn’t ultra light, but then it isn’t overly heavy. It also fits very neatly into my hand, although I’m sure some people would say it is a bit bulky, ugly and 1990’s.

There was a moment of anticipation and anxiety over the first boot of the device. I had been avidly perusing the mailing lists, for which there are hundreds of posts a day, to find out how other people have been getting on with their FRs. There are dozens of software problems and at least one hardware problem. More on that later.

OpenMoko Contents, once the FreeRunner is lifted

OpenMoko Contents, once the FreeRunner is lifted

The software successfully booted, and registered using my old Virgin SIM card.

Apart from having no idea how to use the user-interface of the GMAE (GNOME Mobile) system I did manage to make and receive a call and send and receive SMS messages. So the basic functionality of the phone works. The call quality is very good, contrary to some other people’s experience, and the performance of the phone is adequate – not quite iPhone 3G speed, but also not too sluggish.

These are only first impressions. I’ve had problems with charging and locking the phone, and the power management in general is a bit hit and miss at the moment. The state of the software is really alpha to beta at the moment. However, I really like the device. I think it has tremendous possibilities and I really look forward to helping to get it to a ‘mainstream’ state, however long that might take.