Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
2/2/2012 3:14:21 PM
Decent build quality, a BlackBerry-esque handset for a fraction of the price, solid OS
Android wasn't developed for such a small screen, camera could be better
Many consumers won't have heard of ZTE but it's now one of the world's top five handset manufacturers, ahead of the likes of RIM, HTC and Motorola. The Chinese firm has been churning out OEM handsets for the likes of Orange for some time but the Tureis bears its own logo, so we're hoping that it's something the company is proud of.
On first glance, you'd be excused for thinking you were picking up a BlackBerry. Made of black plastic with a soft-touch rear, ZTE has produced a well-built piece of kit that’s very tactile with no squeaks or groans. Sporting a four-row QWERTY keyboard with the usual row of shortcut keys either side of the D-pad, the Tureis looks audaciously similar to one of RIM's Curve or Bold handsets. It's only once you push the power button on the top edge of the chassis that you're welcomed by a familiar looking droid. Elsewhere on the handset you have a volume rocker on the left side, a Micro USB data and charging port on the right, a 3.5mm headphone jack on top next to the power button and a camera lens and loudspeaker on the back.If you like your handsets with physical keyboards, this is one of the better ones. The keys are nicely profiled and spaced enough to ensure that you won't be wearing out the backspace correcting your mistakes. There's a reassuring click and bounce-back to the keys and the sharing between letters and symbols seems amicable enough. As we mentioned, the Tureis runs on the Android platform, specifically the Gingerbread-flavoured 2.3 version, which is as up to date as you can hope for on a budget smartphone. As such, the hard keys either side of the D-pad are the familiar Home, Menu, Search and Back buttons, with the unusual addition (for an Android) of Call Answer and End keys.
The display is a 2.6-inch QVGA touch-screen, which equates to approximately 153ppi. While not huge, it's acceptable for a handset with a keyboard but a bit weird for an Android device. For starters, it's landscape, so the dialer, browser and apps tray have been placed vertically on the right hand side of the screen. On its own that works, but once you start adding shortcuts or widgets things get very cluttered. If you've ever used a big screen Android device such as the ZTE-produced San Francisco you're going to hate such a cramped display.
Inexplicably, the Tureis still has accelerometer orientation sensing, although why you'd want to turn a handset with a keyboard on its side, we have no idea. In its defence, the screen is as responsive as any of its bigger rivals with full Android multi-touch technology.Inputting data is a doddle with the physical keyboard, and if you press one of the numeric keys from one of the home screens it takes you straight to the dialer, which is a handy shortcut. There's also a shortcut key that fires up the 3.2-megapixel rear-facing camera. It's understandably not the greatest quality snapper but our testing of the stills and video proved more than acceptable for quick snaps and Facebook fodder. As is always the case with Android handsets, connectivity is first-class, with Wi-Fi, 3G, GPRS and Bluetooth to share those photos around.The Qualcomm 800MHz chip is comparable with many other Android handsets including the HTC ChaCha and Orange San Francisco II, and there are no noticeable glitches or lag while you're scrolling through the menus or webpages. Storage is also like-for-like, with 512MB on-board memory and microSD support of up to 32GB.
If you really must have a handset with a physical keyboard then the ZTE Tureis offers a cost-effective solution. The trade off is that the touch-screen takes some of the enjoyment out of a droid. The directional pad, which seems to exist purely to complete the BlackBerry look, is virtually redundant. If you're BB fan but feel let down by RIM's reliability, this could be the answer, but if you're on a budget and are looking for the full Android experience, save yourself forty quid and consider the ZTE-built Orange San Francisco II.