ZTE Open C review – $92 smartphone running Android 4.4 KitKat

July 9, 2014
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ZTE Open C 22

If you are looking for a high-end flagship smartphone then stop reading now… But, if you are after a budget phone that can handle most tasksĀ then read on.

The ZTE Open C is ZTE’s second smartphone designed specifically for Firefox OS. But the good news is that the device can also run Android, specifically Android 4.4 KitKat. The magic of this device is its price. You can get one for just $92. For that price you can’t expect much, but the question is, do you get a functional Android smartphone? I spent a few days testing the ZTE Open C and this is what I discovered.

ZTE Open C 13

Specification

ZTE’s first Firefox OS phone had a 3.5 inch 320×480 display, a single core processor and just 256MB of RAM with 512MB of internal storage. All a bit limited. However the Open C is a different beast.Ā This display gets a bump in size to 4 inch, as does the resolution, which is now 480 x 800. The processor is better, a dual-coreĀ Snapdragon 200; there is more RAM, now 512MB; and the internal storage has increased eight fold to 4GB.

OK, these specs aren’t going to dazzle anyone, but they are close to other low-end devices from big-brands including the Nokia X and theĀ Lumia 520.

Display4 inch, 800 x 480
Processor1.2GHz, dual-core Snapdragon 200, Cortex-A7
RAM512MB
Storage4GB, microSD card slot, up to 32GB
Camera2 Megapixel Rear Camera
Battery1400 mAh
ConnectivityGPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth
NetworksGSM 900/1800/1900MHz. 3G/WCDMA: 900/2100 MHz
SoftwareAndroid 4.4 with Google Play
Dimensions125 x 65 x 12 mm
125 grams
ColorsBlack
SIM slots1x Normal SIM

Design

The Open C’s design is simple, almost retro. It reminds me of the iPhone 3GS, but slightly less bulbous. The phone is completely black save for two small silver colored bars that run down 90% of the sides. On the front is the 480 x 800 display and a single home key (which is represented by a small circular symbol). There are no back or menus buttons,as I guess they aren’t part of the Firefox OS design. However those keys on the device are still functional, even if they aren’t marked on the device. The menu key is on the right and the back key is on the left. It can be a bit hit-and-miss trying to tap the keys as they aren’t marked, but you get used to it!

The volume keys are on the right-hand side and unusually the power button is on the top, where you will also find the 3.5 mm jack. The micro USB port is on the bottom.

Performance

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 is based around ARM’s standard Cortex-A7 core design and Qualcomm have added an Adreno GPU. It is clocked at 1.2 GHz.

According to the specs, the Open C should include a MSM8210 with an Adreno 302. But according to AnTuTu and CPU-Z the device I tested had a MSM8610 and an Adreno 305. I think the two processors are very close in terms of their specifications and are likely interchangeable.

Whichever it is, for the price, this is a reasonable processor package, but don’t be under any illusions that it will be fast.

ZTE Open C AnTuTu

The ZTE Open CĀ scores 12,150 on AnTuTu. In Epic Citadel the device managed a frame rate of 31 fps at 800 x 480 in ultra high quality mode. These might seem like low scores, but actually these are the kind of numbers that high-end phones scored a few years back, and at the time they cost hundreds of dollars!

ZTE Open C Epic Citadel

The GPS performance on the device was phenomenal. It managed to get a lock while I was indoors, and outdoors it saw at least 20 satellites and was able to get a fix in under 2 seconds.

Battery

The ZTE Open C has a 1400mAh battery,Ā which would be small in a quad-core or octa-core device, but with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 and the 4 inch display it is more than ample.

ZTE Open C 15

The battery life while 3D gaming is quite impressive (for the battery size). You can play 3D games for over 4.5 hours on one charge. This is much better than lots of quad-core and octa-core phones I have tested.

My testing shows that you can play MP4 video files from local storage for nearly five hours, before the battery needs recharging. YouTube streaming will work for around four hours, then you will need to find a mains socket.

Since this phone isn’t designed for power users I would estimate that the battery would easily last all day (from morning to evening).

Camera

There isn’t much to say about the camera. It has a fixed focus and a very low megapixel count. This is clearly the component that ZTE decided to sacrifice on the alter of cost-control. The camera app itself is very basic and only provides minimal controls. That doesn’t mean it won’t actually take pictures, it does, but you need to use it carefully to get anything near usable results.

But don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself. Here are a few examples taken in my garden:

Connectivity

The connectivity options are what you would expect from a low-end budget 3G phone. There is Wi-Fi ( 802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth, 2G GSM on 900/1800/1900MHz, and 3G. The device is single SIM and supports 3G on 900 and 2100MHz. This means that the 3G wonā€™t work in the USA, however standard GSM calls should work on some networks. It is worth noting that this is a tri-band GSM phone and it doesn’t support GSM on 850MHz.

2100 Mhz is the most common 3G frequency and should work in most places around the world, however a lot of carriers also use a secondary 3G frequency range. In Asia and South America this is often 850MHz, but in Europe it tends to be 900MHz. This means that this device offers European users better connectivity than many other Chinese devices which often support 850/2100 rather than 900/2100.

You need to check with your carrier to ensure compatibility or if you trust Wikipedia then thisĀ UMTS networksĀ page could have the information you need.

Software

The phone runs a fairly vanilla version of Android 4.4.2 KitKat. However there is one interesting item in the settings, a power saving control. Here you can define a power saving profile which will kick-in when the battery reaches a certain level. The power saving profile defines what should remain off and what should remain on, thus allowing the battery to be conserved.

ZTE Open C Battery Saver

Google Play is pre-installed on the device and there isĀ full access to all of Google’s apps including Gmail, YouTube and Google Keyboard etc.

Pricing and conclusion

There is no shortage of budget devices out there, especially from Chinese OEMs. However ZTE is more than just a Chinese OEM, it is a global telecommunications brand. Its support for Firefox OS is admirable but the fact that you can run Android on this device is cool.

The camera is poor, there is no doubt about it, but besides that the device is quite admirable considering its price point. There is lots of competition at the low-end but this is the cheapest device I have seen from a global player. You can pick up aĀ ZTE Open C Firefox OS smartphone with Android 4.4 KitKat pre-installed from Chinavasion.

 

Comments

  • Jayfeather787

    Eh, for the price, not horrible. That amount of RAM though, is too small for me. I need at least a gig, and so the Moto E, for a few bucks more, proves to be a very good phone. Nevertheless, this is a great attempt at a super budget phone, and maybe the Android One phones will look something like this. Only time will tell.

  • C Daniel Nehemiah Anand

    The Asus Zenfone 4 A400CG is much better for $100 which is just $8 more
    Asus Zenfone 4 is releasing tomorrow in India!!

  • Luka Mlinar

    Oh come on. I would ban devices with less than 1GB of RAM.

    • droid123maverick

      Win You Galaxy S5 Now :sh.st/rh7kd

      • Jayfeather787

        no

        • http://www.AndroidAuthority.com/ Darcy Alexander LaCouvee

          Pretty soon here JayFeather, we’re going to give you moderator access – these guys are all getting banned. So pathetic. Thanks man!

  • rguptan

    why would somebody pick this over LG optimus f6? Which is regularly available for 100$.

    • Codrut Nistor

      I don’t know where you live, but I just checked – to get the LG Optimus F6 contract-free and unlocked as I did with the ZTE Open C in Romania I have to pay around $300 USD! The ZTE was $115 USD with fast shipping from Germany to my door… we’re talking about brand new handsets, of course.

  • xoj_21

    the camera is not tha bad.

    HTC can do worse

    • Codrut Nistor

      I had this for over a month now. The camera IS horrible, trust me! Works fine for calls, battery life with data/GPS/WiFi/Bluetooth off can go above 4 days, screen is decent. Anyway, I just needed a cheap phone to put my 3G card in it – I got what I paid for and I’m quite happy with it. Using it with Firefox OS and no intention of putting Android on it.

      • Tyrone_83

        I guess you haven’t used an M’pop before

        • Codrut Nistor

          What about the M’pop?

          • Tyrone_83

            that phone is utter trash at least just by opening up your email lags the phone it freezes and random reboots. my phone did that 11 times in a row. Alcatel refuses to reply back to on any of their social media pages (ie facebook and Twitter) this ZTE would smash any cheap budget phone that alcatel has out right now.

          • Codrut Nistor

            Ouch. Maybe a class action lawsuit against them would be a good idea…

          • Tyrone_83

            I’m not gonna waste my time with them. Why have social media accounts when you wont reply back. I messaged the US/Canadian heck even the head Alcatel-Lucent page and nobody hasn’t got back to me even sent them a email at their homepage never got a reply back. But then again it’s a cheap 125 dollar phone. I wish I should just paid the extra 50 and got a Moto e at the time.

            And I never had this issue with HTC or Motorola with their budget phones.

  • Tyrone_83

    Better than any cheap Alcatel phone those phones are utter trash.

  • Jesse Afolabi

    this phone is a joke other Chinese oems are offering something way better and that same price and even less.

  • Luis Angel

    For those guys complaining about the specs. Please stop complaing this phone is for DEVELOPERS and I mean REAL DEVELOPER, obviously this is not your regular commercial phone.A good developer doesn’t need too much resources to work. Great device.

  • vampirefo

    This is a really good phone, I am a dev and very happy with the phone, I have built CWM recovery for this phone compiled several roms, I notice some people complain about ram not being 1GB, I just have to laugh at those comments. Windows users really don’t understand ram nor Linux or any device built from Linux.
    Anyway phone is worth the price, I use phone daily currently dual booting FF 2.1 and Kitkat, I mainly using FF OS that’s the reason I bought the phone was to use FF OS.

  • Paul Russell

    This phone was designed by ZTE to be a low cost, Firefox OS smartphone. However, although it’s still cheap, now that it’s running Android KitKat, it’s lost it’s defining feature imo; the Firefox OS, and now must compete against the plethora of low cost Android phones, probably chief among them; the Moto E. For just a little less than $40 more, you get double the RAM, a larger, higher resolution screen, a higher megapixel rear camera, a larger, but embedded, 1980mAh battery and better network compatiblity; supporting 850, 900, 1900, 2100MHz 3G UMTS/HSPA+ and quadband 2G GSM. If I had to pick between the Android Open C & the Moto E, I would most likely go with the Moto E, due to better 3G compatiblity, larger battery, bettery screen and gigabyte of RAM.

    • vampirefo

      Really, LMAO, well first of all you are wrong about the network US version of ZTE Open has every band needed to give one H+ where you got your info I don’t know. Second of all you would spend $40 more to buy a phone slightly better, yet you wouldn’t add another $20 and buy the best phone available that is 4 times better.
      For $155 you could buy the most powerful android out there octa core, yet you settle on a dual core Moto E, now that there is a funny post.

  • Mr. Goof

    Google apps preinstalled? Where? I can’t find them.