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ZTE Open review

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Reviewed:

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ZTE Open
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  • ZTE Open

Summary

Our Score:

7

Pros

  • Web-based Firefox OS platform easy to create apps for
  • Very cheap for a full smartphone
  • Non-premium app culture

Cons

  • Inaccurate touch keyboard
  • Low-resolution screen
  • Mediocre camera with no flash

Key Features

  • 3.5-inch 320x480 TFT display
  • Firefox OS 1.0
  • 3.15-megapixel main camera
  • 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Cortex-A5 CPU
  • MicroSD card support up to 32GB
  • Manufacturer: ZTE Corporation
  • Review Price: £59.99

What is the ZTE Open?

The ZTE Open is the first Firefox OS phone to be readily available in the UK. As we reported a few months ago, ZTE has taken the unusual step of selling it via eBay, and at the princely sum of £59.99 contract free. It's a tempting proposition if you're limited on funds, or just fancy trying out the first mobile operating system from open Internet evangelists Mozilla.

SEE ALSO: 10 best cheap mobile phones

ZTE Open

ZTE Open: Design

The ZTE Open is very much an entry-level handset. Its appearance is reminiscent of the HTC Wildfire, although our sample is considerably more orange. There is a blue version available too, but ZTE is currently only selling the orange one in the UK. The power button and 3.5-inch jack are on the top, the volume rocker is on the side, and the MicroUSB port is on the bottom, so pretty standard smartphone fare.

ZTE OpenApart from these features and the single touch button below the screen, which acts as a home button as it does on an iPhone, every other function works via the touchscreen. Pressing power on the top wakes up the screen, and then a swipe up reveals icons to start the camera or fully unlock the phone.

The main interface sits somewhere between Android and the iPhone, with screens you can swipe between. You can also swipe down to see any notifications, with a selection of common settings along the bottom, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, airplane mode and access to the full settings page.

The main screen simply houses a clock, and the right-hand screens contain icon grids of the apps you have installed, in a similar fashion to the iPhone. The left-hand screen, however, contains an innovative smart search facility called Everything.

This is essentially a searchable compendium of mobile-optimised websites. It's almost a portal, with for example the Social section giving you access to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Myspace, LinkedIn and so on. You feel like you are using dedicated apps, but these are all the mobile sites for these services.

ZTE Open: Screen, Camera and Performance

The screen is not a particular strong point for the ZTE Open. Our comparison with the HTC Wildfire wasn't just about looks; this phone also only sports a 320 x 480-resolution 3.5-inch screen.

Viewing angles are on the poor side, and it's not the brightest or most colourful screen either, but it's adequate for watching the occasional kitten-related online video, with the speaker loud enough for this as well.

There's a built-in FM radio, too, although this only works when the supplied headset is attached. Another area where the ZTE Open isn't exactly state of the art is the camera. This is rear-facing only and has a resolution of 3.15Mpixels. Images aren't exactly sharp, particularly in low light, and there is no flash. So the photography experience is about four years out of date, and Skype video calling won't be particularly pleasant.

ZTE Open

The single-core Qualcomm Snapdragon Cortex-A5 runs at 1GHz, which is rather mediocre by today's standards, as is the paltry 256MB of RAM. But the ZTE Open doesn't feel particularly sluggish. In fact, it's adequately smooth in operation. One area where this phone does not feel smooth, however, is when entering text. The touch keyboard is inaccurate and the lack of predictive text entry makes it particularly painful to use.

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MattMe

November 7, 2013, 10:48 am

I have to question whetehr or not the specs are *that* important on this phone. If the device runs suffciently quick, without issue, as your review suggests, then why is the spec of the processor or RAM an issue?
The camera, maybe so, however I can't help but feel the review scores should reflect the price a little more closely. This (by today's standards) is an unbelievably cheap device, and a 5mp camera isn't exactly a concern at the price, is it?

Also, could you explain the cross-over between the Firefox and the Android apps please? You touch on it here, but my understanding is that Firefox OS would support Android apps.

Dr James Morris

November 7, 2013, 11:28 am

There isn't really an issue with the specs - except the screen and camera - other than the fact that you can get an Android device with similar specs for the same money, and for a lot of people that will be the better choice, until Firefox OS is a little more mature - and ZTE lets you update the Open, which currently they don't seem to have working.

MattMe

November 7, 2013, 11:41 am

Thanks for the reply. Which Android phone for the same price are you referring to? The Wildfire you mention in this article is £100+, isn't it? and from what I hear, they're not exactly amazing devices either.
The screen does sound a bit of a disappointment, definitely. and the keyboard issue, but at least that could be resolved with a software update (assuming other touch functionality was accurate).

So is there cross-over into Android with the app side of things?

MattMe

November 7, 2013, 11:44 am

I see the market for these cheaper devices getting huge soon. Really, who uses the capability of modern £600+ devices? Nobody I know. They play around with them a bit, then go back to using them for SMS, email, web browsing and checking the BBC news app. Personally, I think I'd rather buy a cheap phone, a tablet and a laptop for £600, rather than a new iPhone.

Dr James Morris

November 7, 2013, 11:51 am

I was talking about the ZTE Kis that I mention at the end of the review: http://www.trustedreviews.com/...

Dr James Morris

November 7, 2013, 11:55 am

Also, you can't run Android apps on Firefox OS, but you can run Firefox OS HTML5 apps on Android.

TheConciseStatement

November 8, 2013, 12:54 pm

I'll admit my bias right now - I'm a sucker for orange and that photo just made me go, "Ooh pretty!" A colour constantly rejected by Apple since it never sells well I might add, but if there was an orange iPhone I'd buy one yesterday. As this stands, 60 quid's worth a punt, no? Reminds me of the San Francisco, come to think of it.

ZerocoinZKProofs

November 8, 2013, 8:05 pm

For me orange is a holy color. Only wish they would sell Firefox OS phones for Bitcoin!

Daniel Richards

November 9, 2013, 4:49 pm

The great thing about Firefox OS apps is the range of APIs that Mozilla has opened up for use in web-based apps. On Android or iOS, HTML5 apps are still limited in accessing the core functionality of the phone, even using phonegap. I'd hope to see some very creative web-apps being developed in the future in part due to this interesting new platform.

phuque uguugle

April 28, 2014, 10:49 pm

The most beautiful thing about this phone is "NO EFFING ANDROID" hooray <:o) All android phones should be turned off with a hammer.(o:>

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