ZTE Open C

24th Feb 2014 | 22:16

ZTE Open C

Firefox OS touting bargain phone that falls short

TechRadar rating:

A cheap and not especially cheerful phone that has little to boast about beyond the Firefox OS and its price-point

Like:

Different from your average budget phone;Uses Firefox OS;Interesting chassis colors

Dislike:

Poor build;Poor screen;Poor specs

The ZTE Open C can boast about a couple of things - its interesting Firefox OS and a price point that is south of the US$100 mark (around £60, AU$110).

But the boasting can't really go much beyond that: this is a phone that screams its price tag from every cut-price pore of its chunky casing.

The WVGA TFT screen is the obvious starting point, and might well end up being the end point for those that are taking a look at the cheaper end of the phone market.

That resolution should not look as poor as it does on the 4-inch screen, but it's about as crisp as a particularly leaf lettuce and the multi-touch feels spongey.

Selfies with vaseline

For depth of color display, it's actually not too shabby and for those people who feel that their selfies could do with a little airbrushing the blurriness might actually prove to be a godsend.

ZTE Open C

For the rest of us, however, it's difficult to make much of a case for this being the kind of phone that you are going to be showing off as a cut-price bargain.

Which in some ways is a shame, because in embracing the Firefox OS, there is at least something outside of the cheap norm to talk about.

Describing an operating system as interesting is obviously something of a back-handed compliment and it's meant as such. Firefox OS is certainly a little different, but for Android fans it feels a little short of polish and for Apple users it feels at times like 'my first operating system'.

ZTE Open C screen

But that's not to say it isn't without merit - Firefox maker Mozilla's laudable attitude to openness deserves praise, and that has seeped into the operating system, bringing a straightforwardness that will appeal to some.

Creaky

The phone's 512MB of RAM creaked under the strain of busy websites through the Firefox browser, and although some of the apps ran fairly competently it was clear that this is not a phone for people who are looking to multitask or perform anything beyond fairly simple tasks.

The build quality is nothing to write home about, with the bottom seam of two of the phones we checked out on stand showing a suspiciously widened bottom seam, although both units were encumbered by a show security latch that probably cost more than the phone itself.

ZTE Open C - cracks appearing

At a shade over 1cm thick, this is not a stylish or beautiful phone - more stocky than sexy - although some of the color options are quite nice. The 3MP camera is not blessed with an especially good lens, although our judgement was obviously coloured by viewing the results on that troublesome screen.

Early verdict

You have to make allowances for phones that are aiming at a particular price point, and to compare this device with the Samsung Galaxy S4 or even its higher-ranged ZTE Android brethren would be folly.

ZTE Open C - and one of its hot apps

But there's no excusing some of the issues that proliferate on the Open C - a poor screen, wooly multi-touch and build issues that don't sit well alongside the other lowly specs.

So, in summary, it's cheap and it runs an OS that none of your friends are likely to have; but given its myriad issues even the bargain bin is looking aspirational at this point.

ZTE MWC Open C MWC 2014
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