Chunky, comfy body; cheap price for Android; reasonable budget display
Low-res screen not ideal for media; app and browser crashes
The Kis may be one of the cheapest smartphones that runs on Android, but it doesn’t quite reach the bar, suffering from the odd performance issue.
The ZTE Kis is not the sleek, stylish Android smartphone that comes at a far higher price, but it is still charming, albeit chunky and good to hold in the hand. Its all-black body feels sturdy, as though it would survive a fall from your pocket, And the reverse side is soft, which feels good in the hand, while the metallic keys prove responsive in use. ZTE is proving a success in the mid-price and budget Android phone arena – and the Kis is its cheapest phone yet – at only 50 quid, you won’t find many Android handsets at a lower price.
It might be cheap but the Kis is still a proper smartphone – so you can go on the web using the Android browser. The problem is that the chip is pretty basic – and there’s only 256MB of RAM onboard – so performance is really affected.
We experienced a number of browser crashes, even when we were just trying to find a page, and complex web pages proved really slow to load, and juddery when scrolling through. Mind you, if you only need to look up train times or check sports results, it will do that just fine – and the screen is responsive enough. That responsiveness proves its worth when it comes to emailing and texting. Even though the display is only 3.5 inches, typing out long emails was easy on the virtual keyboard. ZTE has even seen fit to include a swiping-style of typing, rather like Samsung’s, where you drag your digit from one letter to the next. It is efficient and guesses the words well, making the typing experience speedy and smooth.
All tooled up
A lot of handsets at this kind of price run on a standard operating system, with little in the way of features bar calls, texts and so on, but the Kis goes one better by using Google’s Android (even though it’s the out-of-date Gingerbread version). So the Kis has a wide range of tools on offer, more usually found on mid-range handsets. As with all Android handsets, you’ll get seven desktops that can be personalised with a basic choice of widgets and app shortcuts.
Receive a text or email, or miss a call, and the phone will alert you with a flashing light above the display. Go to the top of the screen and hit the notifications tab, where you’ll be able to see everything that’s waiting for you. This is also the place to get speedy access to toggle on and off GPS, Wi-Fi and other power-draining features, which saves you having to go wandering through the menus.
The display is low-res – no surprise at this price – but it still manages to make your photos look more lifelike than the LG Optimus L3. Okay, you’re not going to enjoy the rich colours found on top-end handsets, but it’s vibrant enough and has good viewing angles. It’s pretty bright too, making it easy to read even in direct sunlight,
The Kis also has a 3.2-megapixel snapper. It has an autofocus lens, even though it’s a tad slow. Expect a couple of seconds to elapse between tapping the shutter button and the picture being taken. Pictures aren’t that sharp, but they’re quite acceptable for Facebook and social network sites. Video was disappointing though – watch it back on a PC monitor and it looks blocky and ugly – although the pickup of voices was okay. There’s no flash for night time or low-light photos, nor is there a front-facing snapper should you wish to make video calls.
As the Kis runs on Android, you get full access to the Google Play store should you wish to download games and apps. The basic processor causes issues though – apps can operate slowly – the Maps apps, for example, picked up our location quickly, but zooming and scrolling was frustratingy sluggish. Angry Birds ran well, but speedier games such as Stick Tennis suffered from pauses – and we couldn’t even run Temple Run, You’re better off sticking with older titles. It looks like there are a number of apps already on board, but in reality these are just links to websites. We removed them to avoid clutter.
If you’re an apps fan, you’ll find the battery needs charging every night, and if you stream movies, you’ll be recharging after six hours. But in basic use – texting, emailing and so on – you should get a couple of days out of a full battery.
The ZTE Kis is a budget handset that tries hard to be something more – sometimes it succeeds, other times it fails. It’s nice to have a web browser at this price, and access to Google Play and its games and apps is a bonus, but the processor has problems keeping up at times.
|Type of device||Smartphone|
|Operating System||Android 2.3 Gingerbread|
|Dimensions||114 x 62 x 11.5mm|
|Screen size||3.5 inches|
|Internal storage||2GB Micro SD included|
|Memory card slot|
|Special camera features||Auto-focus|
|FM Radio description||FM radio|
|Games||Android (Google Play)|
|Handsfree speaker phone|
|What's in the box||Charger|
|Battery life multimedia||6 hours|
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