ZTE hasn’t always been the device manufacturer we think of when talking about flagship smartphones. One area where the company strives is in the mid to low range market, specifically with devices sub-$400. The company released their Star 2 mid-ranger handset a few weeks ago, and they’re here to show it off at CES 2015. We had a chance to use the device for a short amount of time, so here is our first look at the ZTE Star 2.

Many smartphone users agree that a 5-inch display is somewhat of a sweet spot in terms of a device’s size, and ZTE has hit that mark with the Star 2. The device has a 5-inch LCD display with 1080 x 1920 resolution and a pixel density of 441ppi. It provides a very nice viewing experience and all the sharpness we could as for in a handset. From what we can tell so far, the device produces bold, vivid colors, giving the front of the phone a very attractive look.

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The back of the device is smooth and sleek, thanks to the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 covering around the entire device. The chassis is plastic, and feels pretty durable so far. The top and bottom edges of the device curve around, continuing the sleek feel. In terms of design, the Star 2 reminds us of a Sony Xperia Z3/iPhone 4 hybrid, which isn’t a bad design in the slightest!

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Under the hood, the Star 2 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, backed by 2GB of RAM. The device only comes in a 16GB variant, though microSD card expansion can expand the device’s memory up to 64GB. It also features a non-removable 2300mAh battery. While it’s not the biggest battery out there, this size battery should be able to make the device last for quite awhile (if not a full day).

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Our experiences with the 13MP rear-facing camera with an f2.0 aperture have been quite positive so far. Around the front, we have a 5MP front-facing camera which is sufficient enough to take selfies or front-facing videos for social media. The front camera also has an 88-degree wide angle lens with an f2.2 aperture, allowing for a wider, more clear shot. Initially, we struggled a bit with the Star 2’s camera software, though we found that manually focusing the camera worked better to our advantage. Overall, we found the camera experience to be quite robust, and we’re looking forward to putting it through its paces in our full review.

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On the software side, the custom skin ZTE put on the Star 2 is colorful and light, without being too overbearing. The main thing we need to get used to is ZTE’s decision not to include an app drawer on the device. However, utilizing folders on the home screen should allow you to keep your device organized and clean. The device’s Settings screen is completely different from other Android handsets that we’re used to seeing, but it was still very easy to navigate and find what we were looking for.

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ZTE has also included a few key features that will help set the Star 2 apart from the rest, namely, the always-on voice recognition service called Smart Voice. Even when your device is offline, you can still access a number of different areas of the phone just by voice control. Calling contacts, controlling music and waking up the device are just a few of the voice commands users can utilize with Smart Voice. We’re especially looking forward to testing these features out in our full review.

So, there you have it – our first look at the ZTE Star 2! Just because ZTE is offering this device at a relatively cheap price point, doesn’t mean they’re skimping on the specifications or features at all. The handset will be available within the coming months starting at $399. Stay tuned to Android Authority for full coverage on this device, as well as our comprehensive coverage of CES 2015!

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