Geeksphone Peak: Early Days

On Thursday afternoon a small box arrived by UPS at Reinvented HQ: my Firefox OS-driven Peak mobile phone fresh from Geeksphone in Spain:

Geeksphone Peak

I ordered the phone because I like the idea of developing for (and using) a mobile device where I have much more intimate control than I do on  increasingly-more-intermediated phones running Android, iOS and Windows Phone. I went in realizing that this would mean, at least right now when Firefox OS is relatively new an immature, using a device that only partially worked, and that lacked the polish of devices I’m used to. With that in mind, here’s a quick “state of the union” rundown of what works and what doesn’t. I’m using the phone with the latest code from Mozilla.

What Works

  • Making and receiving telephone calls.
  • Sending and receiving SMS text messages.
  • Importing contacts from Google (although not syncing them, yet).
  • Syncing calendar with Google Calendar (in both directions).
  • Installing new apps from the Firefox Marketplace (although it renders weirdly on the Peak).
  • Mounting the phone as a device on my MacBook (allowing me to drag and drop photos and audio to and from the Peak).
  • FM radio (the radio works well and the FM radio app is solid).
  • Playing music
  • Wifi and mobile data. No issues at all.
  • Tethering. Worked out of the box without issues.
  • Notifications.

What Sort of Works

  • Using the web browser: it mostly works, but there’s an issue with it not being detected as a mobile browser by sites offering a mobile version, and there’s an issue with mobile sites rendering much too small to be usable. Otherwise, it appears solid and well-designed. Which makes sense, because it’s from Mozilla.
  • Taking pictures with the front and back cameras (see some examples here): the quality of the photos isn’t great, the camera UI needs some work, and the “gallery” app has bugs.
  • Bluetooth. I can send files from my MacBook to the Peak, but I cannot send files from the Peak to the MacBook. And while I can pair it with my Bluetooth speakers, I can’t send audio to it.
  • Twitter app. It appears to function properly, but the UI is too tiny to be usable.

What Doesn’t Work

  • GPS (doesn’t appear to work at all).
  • EXIF date-stamping of photos (they all show up in iPhoto as having been taken in 2002).
  • Sharing photos (there are hooks in place to share via Twitter, Flickr or imgur, but I haven’t been able to get any of them working).
  • Email. I haven’t been able to get the Email app to talk to my IMAP server. This is likely because either I have a self-signed SSL certificate or because I’m using STARTTLS which the Email seems not to support.
  • Manual brightness setting (I can switch off automatic brightness, but then can’t adjust brightness above “barely visible).

That’s by no means a comprehensive list: it just reflects what I’ve tried to do in the last 3 days.

In general the phone UI feels a little rough around the edges (when compared to iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices that I am used to), but not shockingly so: it’s responsive, scrolling is smooth and not “laggy,” and although the phone has the habit of rebooting itself more than I’d like, it’s so quick to reboot that this isn’t as much of a problem as it would be otherwise (and is to be expected from a developer-focused phone).


alexander's picture
alexander on May 12, 2013 - 20:47 Permalink

> there’s an issue with it not being detected as a mobile browser by sites offering a mobile version

Looks like it’s time to stop assuming the only mobile browsers are WebKit-based.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on May 12, 2013 - 21:52 Permalink

In the meantime, this responsive.css file will help: it adjusts the sizes of UI elements, and is used by the Gaia apps (like SMS) to ensure that they are rendered in usable size.

Robert Kaiser's picture
Robert Kaiser on May 13, 2013 - 13:35 Permalink

As the first devices being shipped with Firefox OS are all in the same lineage as the Keon, the larger screen of the Peak right now isn’t tested very well — and in the first version of Firefox OS, some corners have definitely been cut to manage to get something deliverable to the low-end market within the set timelines.
Also, it seems like because of the Peak not being in the v1 target lineage, Geeksphone did some creative hacking to get the builds for it up and running (which can be the source of crashes/reboots), and I hope they’ll clean that up in future updates. They’re a pretty tiny company so some things there might take a while.
That set, all the code is open, the phone is flashable and our people at Mozilla surely would be more than happy about you getting up a build of the current development versions and getting in some pull requests on fixes e.g. in the UI (“Gaia”). :)

Alex's picture
Alex on May 13, 2013 - 17:47 Permalink

If you get a chance, I’d be interested in the dimensions and weight (rough is fine). I haven’t seen these numbers listed anywhere.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on May 13, 2013 - 23:26 Permalink

The Peak is 13.5 cm x 6.5 cm x 0.8 cm. I don’t have a way of checking the weight, but I can tell you that it seems to be about 3/4 of the weight of my Nokia Lumia 800 if that means anything to you.

Alex's picture
Alex on May 14, 2013 - 00:34 Permalink

Thanks, that’s helpful!

ashleyjohnston's picture
ashleyjohnston on September 27, 2013 - 10:04 Permalink

I will need an upgrade soon and I would like to try some of the more open phone options. My geeking skills are limited. If I invested in a Peak phone would the software updates eventually solve the current problems? If it is not consumer ready now when do you expect it would be?