With Christmas fast approaching many parents will be looking around for a phone that's sutiable for teenagers and that doesn’t cost the earth. The answer might lie with the cut price ZTE Kis, currently available on Pay As You Go from Virgin Media for just £59.99. What's more, this deal includes £10 of talk time plus 300 texts, and you even get 1GB of data a month of data for a year. And if you switch your number form another operator Virgin will give you another 100 free minutes. It looks to be a great deal, but is it?
For such a cheap handset the ZTE Kis actually feels remarkably solid. It's also much more stylish looking than you'd expect. It's available in either black or white. We tried the white version, and the contrast between the glossy white used on the main body of the phone and the black used on the screen bezel and touch buttons works really well. ZTE has even added a short, jutting lip at the bottom of the phone where the mic is located, which is very reminiscent of old HTC designs on handsets like the HTC Hero. We also like the chrome highlights around the camera on the rear an on the power and volume buttons.
The power button has been sensibly place on the top along with the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, while you'll find the volume button on the left hand side and the microUSB port on the right.
There's also a row of four touch buttons sitting beneath the screen for the standard Android home, menu, back and search functions. These are nice and responsive, but unlike on most phones, they're not backlit, so they're a bit tricky to use when you're walking home in the dark at night or are using the phone in a dimly room.
Prise off the battery cover and you'll find the 1400MAh removable battery nestled inside as well as a slot for a full-sized SIM card. It's also good to see a microSD card slot here too and ZTE even includes a 2GB card to boost the phone's meagre internal storage.
The ZTE Kis's screen suffers from the usual issues that affect the display on cheaper mobiles. Its viewing angles are quite tight, so if you tilt the bottom of the phone towards you the display starts to go very dark. And if you leave the auto brightness function on the brightness gets set a bit loo low, so the screen looks a tad murky – not unusual on budget handsets.
That's the bad news. The good news is that you can improve the screen's performance a lot by just turning off the auto brightness setting in the menu and manually turning up the brightness level a bit. What's more, the screen is reasonably large at 3.5 inches and its resolution is rather good too.
Whereas most budget phone's make do with a resolution of 240x320, the ZTE Kis's display has a much higher resolution of 320x480 pixels, which matches that of the old iPhone 3GS. It makes viewing webpages and using apps like Facebook and Flipboard so much easier and more pleasurable than on competing cheap handsets like the Motorola MotoroSmart and Alcatel OT-903. In fact it improves the whole user experience massively.