ZTE have come a long way since they used to make the £10 phones on Three which had the SIM card glued into place to prevent box breaking, these were the phones sold on Three via Superdrug.
So considering we are now looking at an Android device packing a 4.3 inch screen with 5 megapixel camera, a lot has improved.
Due to demand and the fact Clove who kindly loaned us the Skate needed it back quickly we only got a few days with the device but that was enough time to give a quick review even if it was not as detailed as a full review it still gives you an idea what to expect. Thanks to Clove for loaning us the device.
Looking at the front you have a light sensor to help with the automatic backlighting, there is also a large speaker grill for voice calls. Under this is a ZTE logo which if you have been into Orange this will show Monte Carlo instead as the ZTE Skate is the same device just unbranded and unlocked with no Orange customisation on (of which there is A LOT!).
You then have the large 4.3 inch touchscreen with a resolution of 480 by 800 pixels which is good considering the price you pay to get the Skate in the first place of around the £200 mark.
Under the screen are three hardware buttons, HOME, MENU and BACK, with BACK also being used as a status light which will flash on and off if you have any notifications including calls, texts, emails, tweets etc…
On the left hand side you have just the volume up and down buttons which are used as with most phones to not only control the volume in a call but to also change the profile between loud and vibrate
The right hand side at the top is the on/off button which also puts the phone into standby mode and wakes it up again. Below this is the MictoUSB port used for charging or for data transfer between the Skate and a PC or Mac.
The bottom of the Skate just as a single hole which is the microphone for voice calls and quality is actually quite clear from a low to mid range device such as this.
The top is also quite plain with just a single headset port right in the middle and as expected it is the 3.5mm design so you can use your own headset if you wish
Turn the Skate over and looking at the back you have on the left side the 5 megapixel camera with single LED flash and large 5.0MP letters underneeth. On the right hand side there is the speakerphone and then at the bottom there is the ZTE logo again.
The camera is pretty average when compared to what you can get on other phones these days for around the same price. If the lighting is good then you can get good results but something I found quite quickly was if the lighting is not perfect you soon get a really dark picture.
The Skate was a handset I was really looking forward to getting hands on even if it was just or a few days, mainly due to the large screen size but once I got using it my excitement soon turned into disappointment with some key points.
One BIG problem is the battery, 1400mAh but with space to have made the battery even larger to help get through a day, but in reality the life was poor. for example with a fully charged battery I turned the Skate on at 3pm and by 11pm the battery was just about handing in there with 1% remaining.
The camera is average as mentioned earlier and with just a 800Mhz processor powering Gingerbread OS and 512MB of RAM you soon notice delays and lagging when running applications or searching the Android Market for example. Maybe it was just me being spoiled by dual core phones with super fast processing power installing and loading apps in an instant but this really was noticeable and at times frustrating.
It is not all bad though, for just over £200 sim free you are getting what must be one of the closest phones to a pure Android device there is with hardly any ZTE branding or skinning at all. The UI looks and feels like the same one seen on the Google Nexus S with the same menu bar, shortcut icons at the bottom and a lot more, you really could be fooled into thinking this is a ‘google branded’ phone like the Nexus S. The problem will always be how quick ZTE are to release software updates and considering the processing power and RAM available you will be waiting a long time before upgrades come out and upgrading to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will defiantly be out of the question meaning you are limited
For £219.60 at time of writing this review the Skate is not a bad buy, the screen is massive when compared to other devices in this price range but where it excels in screen space it lacks in other areas like the camera and battery life. If you have £220 spare and are looking at the Skate, also consider the HTC Wildfire which is a little cheaper and although does have a smaller screen is a faster, sleeker phone with a great UI and features plus the hardware is really top quality.
Link: Clove Technology