Purple Labs launches Linux phone

February 4, 2008 // 9:07 a.m.

Tags: #3g #handset #mobile #purple-haze #purple-labs #purple-magic

Purple Labs has announced a new mobile handset in conjunction with NXP Semiconductors aimed at emerging markets – and it runs Linux. It's also called 'Purple Magic', which I'm reasonably certain isn't a drug/pr0n reference.

The phone, based around a 208MHz ARM processor with 64MB of RAM and 128MB flash ROM, is a surprisingly impressive unit with a full-colour QVGA screen, 2G and 3G connectivity (take that, iPhone), MP3 playback, Bluetooth, a Java Virtual Machine, and the obligatory two-camera setup for photography and video calling.

Okay, so it's nothing we haven't seen in numerous other flip-phones before, but the fact that it's running Linux under the hood is pretty cool.

The best feature though is the cost; Purple Labs claim that the handset will have a transfer price of under $100. The company is hoping that by keeping costs down they'll be able to steal a march on bigger rivals such as Sony Ericsson and Nokia, who have a range of very basic handsets aimed at the developing world that just don't compare feature-wise.

While the handset is clearly taking one or two design cues from Motorola's Razr series, it's interesting to see a newcomer to the increasingly polarised marketplace. It's doubly interesting to see Linux being used in a handset that doesn't come from Nokia. Personally, I just want one to see if I can get Ubuntu running on it.

Can the market support yet another handset manufacturer, or is this one destined for the same niche as the OLPC? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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