ZTE Tania review
ZTE have been known for giving the cheaper basic versions of Android so far in their mobile careers, but now they have dabbed their hands in the Windows Phone market. And sticking to typical ZTE style, this handset is the cheapest Windows Phone 7 you can buy on the market today. However, the device still packs a 1Ghz processor, a 5mp camera and a 4.3" screen so the question is is this phone a massive bargain or are there other flaws that specifications can't tell us?
Read on to find out more!
The 10 Second review:
- Device: ZTE Tania
- Price: £199.00 including VAT
- Summary: The cheapest Windows Phone 7 phone on the market that lives way above it's price point.
- Best of: Screen, build quality & battery life
- Worst of: camera, capacitive buttons
- Buy it now from Clove Technology
What's in the box?
- ZTE Tania
- Headphones with media buttons buttons
- USB Cable
- USB to 3-pin UK Mains charger
- 1400 mAh battery
- User Documentation
ZTE Tania Specification:
- Dimensions:128.6 x 67.8 x 10.7 mm
- Weight: 158 g
- Display: TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours
- Screen Size: 480 x 800 pixels, 4.3 inches (~217 ppi pixel density)
- 3.5mm headset jack
- 4GB storage Internal, 512 MB RAM
- HSDPA, 14.4 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth: v2.1 with A2DP, EDR
- microUSB v2.0
- Camera: 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
- Video: 720p@30fps
- OS: Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
- Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon
- CPU:1 GHz Scorpion
- Stereo FM radio with RDS
- GPS with A-GPS support
- Battery: Standard battery, Li-Ion 1400 mAh
On the top of the handset is simply the 3.5mm headphone jack
On the bottom of the handset is the microphone and a little latch to pull the back cover off with
The left side of the ZTE Tania simply has the volume rocker
On the right you'll find the power button, the microUSB slot and the dedicated camera button
On the back of the phone is the 5mp camera with LED and a speaker grill
On the front of the phone is the 4.3" screen, earpiece and three capacitive buttons, back, home and search
The ZTE Tania comes in at a price point of around £200 but you wouldn't think that if you were just to simply handle the handset and have a play with it as the externals of this phone are outstanding for the price. ZTE have done REALLY well with the chrome buttons and the glass front and the chrome earpiece. This truly is a phone that feels more than it is worth unlike the Samsung devices of late that have felt a lot cheaper than their price point would suggest. The buttons are all easy to access and all have a very firm click to them which is always a necessity with the unlock button; a couple minor things with the buttons are that the unlock button is a little recessed and the volume rocker is rather easy to click down by accident.
The front of the device looks really nice with the full-frontal glass display covering the whole front with a chrome edge surrounding the display. I like how the screen and the buttons are all one piece of glass as this gives it a more premium look.
The back of the handset is probably the cheapest feeling part of the phone and even then it feels very solid and nice and is the same soft-touch back as my HTC desire, except this back cover encases the sides of the device also. All-in-all the ZTE Tania feels like a very nice device and one that you could probably trust with a few drops every now and then if you were worried about it's sturdiness.
The Tania is a rather thick device coming in at 10.7mm thick, but it really doesn't matter when it's in your pocket or when you're holding it. People just seem to have a fascination with getting the thinnest phone since the iPhone 4 came out, but the thickness of the ZTE was pleasant as you KNEW your phone was in your pocket unlike when I was using the Galaxy Note and I kept forgetting it was in there and thought I'd lost it! In addition, the ZTE is a rather heavy device weighing in at 158g, but once again this just helps me to ensure it's in my pocket and that I haven't lost it.
The screen on the ZTE is a 4.3" screen with the resolution of 480x800 pixels which compared to the modern phones we have today isn't the highest, but once again this is one of the cheapest Windows Phone handsets on the market. The screen's viewing angles aren't the best and it's a little hard to see under direct sunlight but it's certainly sufficient when inside and for knocking out a quick text or phone call when outside. One thing I felt was that maybe 4.3" is too big for Windows Phone 7, I'm not too sure why, maybe it's to do with the fact that a lot of the swiping on WP7 involves dragging from the left to right and this is a little harder to do on the bigger screen. This may just be something I found whilst using it in the long term, but maybe I just have diddy hands.
The 1 ghz single-core processor does fairly well to run the Windows platform on the ZTE Tania; Windows Phone 7.5 does feel optimised to run on a lower processing power than most other Smartphones out there today. The phone ran nice and smoothly, there was no lag when swiping between pages and no lag when opening up a new application. However, you could feel the lack of processing power when it came to loading applications; many of the applications that involved synchronisation of any kind would take a good 5-10 seconds to fully synchronise, in addition, applications that didn't even need to synchronise with anything still felt like they took a little while to load everything.
The ZTE Tania is running Windows Phone 7.5 with no additional applications on it whatsoever which is traditionally how ZTE roll with their devices; they simply hand you a phone with ZTE on the front and the bare bones of the OS running on it. There is no doubt Windows Phone 7 is a contender when it compares to the likes of Android and iOS, it simply lacks the advertisement that iOS has and lacks the customisability which draws in people like Android.
You unlock the ZTE Tania by dragged the wallpaper off the top of the screen which I found a very neat way to unlock a device! I was surprised it had never been thought of before as it's so simple and yet it works well in that if you don't swipe with enough acceleration or don't swipe high enough, the image will bounce back down and lock again which is a really nice feature.
Windows Phone 7.5 is one of those Operating systems that you either love or you hate and I absolutely love the look of it! The simple tiles that dominate the home screen are really simple but are beautiful in that they move and are animated depending on which application the tile is representing. In addition to the tiled homepage, you can scroll to the right and you have a straight list of the applications on your handset. This second way of viewing your applications isn't quite as beautiful as the first screen, but then how many operating system's way of showing a list of applications is beautiful?
The customisation on Windows Phone is fairly limited; you can move, delete or add in new tiles on the home screen. You can also change the colour of the tiles which also changes the colours of the boxes around messages and such things, also you can choose if you want to have a black theme or a white theme which simply changes the colour of the keyboard and the background of the default applications.
The dialler on the ZTE Tania is again stock Windows Phone and is nice and big and easy to use. Like most smartphones these days, when you begin to type a number, it suggests numbers you already have or names based on the keys you entered. One thing that I found a little weird was when in a call, the "call end" button was placed to the left in the middle, aligned with some of the numbers which I thought was a very odd place to place it and it was in fact a little annoying to reach for when I wanted to quickly end a call and get onto something else.
The keyboard in Windows Phone 7 is really nice also and is again one of the best out there on the market, personally I would say it comes second behind Android as sometimes I felt it was a little annoying that it would correct words that i didn't want correcting as opposed to Android where it just seems to work every time. One thing that was quite trivial but I found amusing was that the keyboard sound is actually really nice as opposed to the annoying clicky noises sounds that iOS and Android keyboards make; this keyboard seemed to have more of a deeper thump sound.
Notifications on Windows Phone are dealt with really well I feel, however they do have their downfalls which I'll mention. Notifications are handled with a bar that comes down when you receive one which you click on and it'll take you the appropriate application; if your phone is lock and you receive one, you click on the bar and the wallpaper bounces which means when you open the phone you will be taken to the application. I like this as it means that if you receive an application you can open the phone and do something else without having to go the corresponding notification. In addition, your tiles will change according to whether you have a notification on that application or not. Windows have added in a little fun with the messages application in that the icon is a smiley face when you have no messages, an unhappy face when you have a text that won't send, a winky face when you have messages and a shocked face when you have above 2 messages.
One thing that I wanted to mention desperately about Windows Phone is how insanely polished it feels when you're using it; everything scrolls incredibly smoothly, animations fill the OS with smoothness and just in general it is very nice to use. One thing that I noticed was this was the FIRST phone I've reviewed in which I never once experienced lag, a forced shut down, freezing or any problems. From his I got the opinion that this is an incredibly solid operating system as well and one that I feel would last a long and you wouldn't experience problems with during a two year contract.
When Windows Phone 7 first came along and I began watching videos on it, I was highly impressed by the Browser and at the time (before it was even mainstream) dared to say that it was better than the iPhone's browser (which was the best Browser at the time.) However, when I got to experience the browser for myself with the ZTE Tania, it wasn't QUITE as amazing as it looked on the videos. Pages weren't as snappy to load as in the videos (the phones in the videos did have 1ghz single-core processors too in case you're wondering) and scrolling wasn't as smooth as in the videos either. However, there is no doubting that Microsoft have done well once again with this beautiful browser and it sure does work well, despite the aforementioned downfalls, the scrolling is still smooth, the pages load at a speed that is fine for any everyday user and in general everything about the application defies the belief that Internet Explorer will never be as good as Google and Apple's browser offerings.
The browser does offer tabs within the browser and these are accessed by clicking the three dots at the bottom of the browser (which is the universal button for options) then clicking on "tabs." This then brings you to the tabbed-view of your websites which appear simply as square live previews of your websites that you currently have open. One thing that I hope more operating systems do is go the way of in-browser tabs like the Dolphin Browser's tabs and the new Google Chrome browser that Google have released for Android.
In general the Browser was a very nice experience and far and beyond the desktop experience of IE 9 with all the cluttered toolbars and all that extra stuff you get that you don't need. With this Mobile Version of IE, you simple get the address bar along the bottom with a refresh button which I'm glad they have chosen to go with in the new Windows 8 platform that is soon to be released. Once again however, I feel the Browser may have been iPhone 4S quality if it had a dual-core processor or even maybe a 1.4 Ghz processor slammed into the back, but we are talking about a phone that doesn't even break the £200 mark here!
The Tania supports a 4.3" display with the resolution of 480 x 800 pixels which results in a PPI of about 217 which isn't the highest PPI we've seen on a screen on this size, but I feel that Windows Phone 7 doesn't need a higher screen resolution really. However, when it comes to Media on the ZTE Tania, a higher screen resolution would have been nice. On the other hand, the 4.3" screen is always nice to have due to it's larger size and as a result bigger video-viewing screen. Some people dislike the idea that phones are getting bigger as they're harder to hold in your hand and harder to type on and these kind of things, however you cannot doubt, the bigger the screen size, the better for watching videos the device gets. And the 4.3" screen isn't one of the biggest screens on the market but it is still a very nice screen to view videos on.
The Music Application on the ZTE Tania is VERY reminiscent of the ZUNE player's music player that Microsoft brought out as a competitor to the iPod but it failed hard. The style of the Music Player is identical to the layout of the rest of the phone too with the typography stretching across multiple panes and simple text and hardly any colour being a big part of the design. However, I like this about the design of the Music Player, you simply can read the text and that is it, very similar to the iPhone where there isn't any complications, it's simple text that you click on to listen to a song. However, I would have preferred it if maybe you could alter the size of the font as I felt it was a little too large and would definitely be too big if you have thousands of songs to scroll through. To be fair, referring to my previous point, you can click on one of the letter tiles and it brings you to a view of all the letters so you can jump to a certain letter and consequently jump to the songs that begin with that corresponding letter.
When actually playing music, the Album art shows on the screen to the left, however what I found the coolest was that if the Zune Music Player can pick up your Artist correctly then it displays a picture of the artist in the background. Unfortunately for me, this only worked when I played Eminem and didn't work with a lot of my other Artists but then maybe they weren't mainstream enough. What else I noticed was that whilst playing music, the controls don't reside at the bottom like on most handsets, they reside at the top and not even centred, they're to the left at the top. This wasn't a massive thing, it just made the controls a little harder to reach than if they were at the bottom, but at least Microsoft are trying something different.
The video player on the ZTE Tania is found within the music section which I found a weird combination, usually you find Videos with Pictures but I have a feeling that this may be due to the fact that this was how the ZUNE media device handled things. On the video note, what i found weird was that there was a YouTube application that you could download for free, but it wasn't a YouTube application. It simply allowed you to view YouTube videos that you found off of the internet and you had to actually download an application called YouTube Pro which was also free but by a completely different developer to be able use the YouTube application for other than simply viewing videos off the internet. But when you do eventually get the Videos working, the video player is very nice with very big buttons for control and it streams fairly fast; but I did experience some lag at times, but this may have been due to my slow internet.
I know this isn't quite Media, but I wanted to cover the Windows Marketplace as this is new to me and so It was a new experience for me to try and review. At first I had massive problems with getting into the Marketplace as you need to have a Windows Live ID and I didn't own one (that I still knew the password to) so I had to blag one and lie about my age too as I was only allowed to buy applications if I was 18, however once I got through this typical Windows set up I was pleasantly surprised. At first I was a little confused as to how to use it as the search button on the phone only searches bing when you press it and isn't optimised to work with other applications. Eventually I worked my way around the Marketplace and downloaded the necessary applications I needed to survive in life (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter & Pulse.) What I noticed was that there wasn't as many "Top 25" type categories to look into like there is on Android and iOS; it wasn't as easy just to browse around for a random game to pick up and play or a random application to do something I'll only ever need to do once. So a little work can yet be done on the Windows Marketplace but it all still runs really well which will make the more forgiving a reason to not care.
You can't talk about Media on a phone without talking about the Gallery as well as these days SO many people use their phones as their daily cameras as it is generally cheaper to buy a phone with a camera on it than it is to buy a smartphone and a good digital camera. The gallery application on the ZTE Tania is very nice in that when you open it up, it uses your photos as the background to the application as you can see below with my picture of a pancake! The application is separated into camera roll, albums, date & people which is a bit different to most other galleries we see. The one that may stand out to you is the people option, what this does is simply lets you view people's Facebook photos or the photos of people off any account you've synched up to your phone. Once viewing pictures it is a simple tile format that you click on and the photos pan out to full screen view as they do on every phone. Scrolling between different pictures is very smooth as is pinch-to-zoom on all the images!
The camera application on the ZTE Tania is once again stock Windows Phone and is fairly simple when it comes to aesthetics. When you are on the camera, you simple have a button for options, the zoom-in-and-out button and the button to change it back to video. What I found neat was that you can swipe to the left to view your gallery also which is a very quick and handy way to access your pictures you've just taken. As for options within the camera you get the usual settings you find on mobile phone cameras such as ISO settings and White Balance and the like, there's nothing out of the ordinary here which is sufficient enough for someone who isn't too into their photography.
The camera on the Tania is a 5mp camera with a single LED flash. Now usually when we get a low-range phone that is under £200 and yet still tries to pack a punch, we get an underperforming camera so they can keep the price down. However, I felt that with the ZTE's camera was a very sufficient camera for someone who simply wants to take quick snaps to upload to Facebook or Twitter. The pictures did come out a little yellowed when inside and there was a slight yet noticeable amount of noise on pictures that were taken inside. However outdoor images were very good and I was pleasantly surprised.
I'd heard rumours about Window Phone 7's battery life being incredibly impressive for a smartphone and I was not let down. We have to take in a few things here, this phone was only rocking a 1400 mAh battery in the back and yet it managed to run a 4.3" screen on full brightness with heavy use for a day and a half straight (And by a half I mean until about 3 o'clock in the afternoon.) I would like to see Android or iOS build a phone that could last that long. For once with a phone I didn't find myself checking my battery to make sure it hadn't taken a sudden leap into the lower percentage area every half an hour or so. The thing that excites me is that if they can run for this long on a battery this low, image how they'll run with a few software updates and a 2,200 mAh battery in the larger screened phones. Obviously with Android these days we have dual-core processors and HD screens, but I own a HTC Desire with a 3.7" screen with the same resolution as the Tania and with a 1500 mAh battery and the Tania absolutely blows it away! A truly impressive battery and is very nice considering the majority of people who will be buying Windows Phones will need their phone to last more than a single day.
Signal & Call quality:
One of my friends actually borrowed my phone to make phone calls more than I did during the time period that I had this phone to review so I thought it would be better to ask for his views on the quality. He told me that it was a little quiet and distorted at times however they could hear him perfectly and he didn't have to repeat himself often. He pointed out that it was hard to hear the people on the other end at times due to the lack of clarity within the speaker. But he said that was him merely being picky and it wouldn't be something he'd pick up on unless he was one of those annoying nit-picky people who find holes in everything.
The signal on this phone was mediocre, I had the usual troubles of finding signal where I lived and then found full signal whilst at college. However, I did notice that the phone was rather stop and start with the signal, it either appeared to have no signal at all or full bars, I don't distinctly remember there being a time where it had only two bars or only three bars for example.
There are three points that I told everyone that I wanted to mention when I wrote the conclusion for the ZTE Tania. The first point was impressed with Windows Phone 7 I was; for the past two years me and all my friends have argued for Android and for iOS until now. Now there is a new competitor and we have even gone as far to say that we are all considering getting a Windows Phone 7 device unless Apple do something amazing with the iPhone 5 or Android do something to polish up their OS. The next thing I wanted to mention was the battery life, as I said during my review of the battery life, I just couldn't believe how long the phone lasted considering how much I was using and considering it was rocking a 4.3" screen; very impressive indeed! The third and final thing I wanted to note was how on earth this phone is £200.. it is made out of really nice materials and feels solid in the hands, the camera is 5 megapixels and works nicely, the operating system is smooth and fast and is generally a joy to use and just everything about the phone suggests it should be closer to the £250-£300 mark. ZTE have truly done well with this phone here and if I were them, I'd get as many of these made as possible because as soon as people read this review, thousands of people will be flocking to buy one!
Review by: Luke