Pros: Good build quality; decent operating system; the feel of a BlackBerry for a lower price
Cons: Camera is average; OS doesn’t show to its best on a small display
Verdict: For BlackBerry users who have been disappointed with RIM’s reliability, the Tureis offers the feel of a BlackBerry with a reliable Android operating system.
Having read that title, you might be asking who is ZTE? While you may not have heard of the company, it’s actually one of the top five handset makers in the world – higher up the list than the likes of HTC, RIM and Motorola. The Chinese manufacturer has been making devices for companies such as Orange for some time, but this time around, the Tureis bears the ZTE name.
Take a quick look and you could be forgiven for thinking that this is actually a BlackBerry. Its body is made from soft plastic, while the reverse is rubberised, making it good to hold, while feeling well built. It sports a four-row QWERTY keyboard, and shortcut keys on each side of the D-pad – making it look very like a BlackBerry Bold or Curve.
The power button sits on the top edge of the device, alongside the 3.5mm audio jack. The right side is home to a micro USB data and charging port, while the volume rocker sits on the left. The loudspeaker and camera lens are on the reverse.
The Tureis runs on Android Gingerbread 2.3 – as up to date an operating system as you could wish for on a budget smartie. There are hard keys on each side of the D-pad – they’re the familiar Menu, Search, Home and Back buttons, plus the Call End and Answer keys we’ve come to expect to see on an Android handset.
The display is not that big – it measures 2.6 inches and is of the QVGA variety with an approx 153ppi. Its size is okay for a phone with a keyboard but it’s rather small for an Android handset. Not only that but its in landscape mode, so you’ll see the browser, dialer and apps tray sit vertically on the right of the display. Add a few widgets and shortcuts and the screen starts to get a tad cramped.
However, as we have come to expect from Android handsets, the connectivity options are top-notch – GPRS, Wi-Fi, 3G, and Bluetooth.
The physical keyboard is pretty decent – the keys are well spaced, so good if you have bigger fingers, and well profiled to avoid a lot of mis-typing. You also get a nice click and bounce back when you’re hitting the keys.
Why Tureis has accelerometer orientation sensing, we’re not sure – because we don’t know why you’d turn a phone that has a keyboard on its side. Having said that, the display is as responsive as larger screens.
It’s easy to type with the physical keyboard – hit a numeric key from any one of the home screens and you’ll head straight to the dialer, which is useful. A shortcut key also turns on the 3.2 megapixel rear-facing snapper. Sure, it’s not the best camera we’ve seen but it’s good enough for taking video and still snaps for Facebook.
Under the bonnet sits a Qualcomm 800Mhz processor – you’ll find similar on the Orange San Francisco II and HTC ChaCha – and it performs with no lag or glitches. And storage is similar too – with 512MB built-in memory and the ability to expand this up to 32GB with a microSD card.
If you really want a physical keyboard on your mobile, the ZTE Tureis is an affordable option. However, it does mean you lack some of the fun that a large touchscreen offers on an Android handset. The D-pad meanwhile, which seems to have been included to make the handset look even more like a BlackBerry device, is really of little use.
BlackBerry fans who are disillusioned by RIM’s reliability might find the Tureis an affordable alternative, but if you want the Android experience at a budget price, you’d be better off choosing the Orange San Francisco II (which is also built by ZTE) and costs 40 quid less.
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