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ZTE Kis review

Can ZTE break from its network-branded roots with this budget offering?

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Our Verdict

For

  • Decent keyboard
  • Stylish design
  • Loud rear speaker
  • Responsive
  • 12 months' free data

Against

  • Very poor viewing angle
  • No Flash support
  • Lack of Facebook
  • Tiny internal storage
  • Bloatware

What can we say about the ZTE KIS?

We got the phone out of the box and were immediately impressed with the device's looks, and here at the end of the review, we still are.

For a phone that doesn't blow your wallet to pieces you'll be surprised at what you hold in your hands.

Compromises had to be made though, and the 800MHz processor and the low-resolution screen are to name a few.

We liked

We could keep going on about the looks of the ZTE KIS, but you really do need to hold one in your hands to fully appreciate what we mean.

Every time we look at it, we struggle to associate the looks with the price. The capacitive screen was very responsive, as were the four buttons underneath.

Given that this is one of the basics that you can expect from a phone, we were glad to see it done well. The loud speaker was also, well, loud. What more can you ask for?

We were also impressed by the keyboard, as keyboards we have tried on other budget devices have seemed cramped. It was easy to use, and had a good text-prediction feature, as well as a Swype-like text input feature should you want it.

We disliked

We've mentioned it a few times throughout our review, the screen is really poor.

The resolution is low, and the viewing angle is abominable; anything less than head-on is almost unwatchable. Zoomed in, text loses the crisp edges and videos don't play well.

The lack of Facebook or Twitter in today's world is also almost unforgiveable. Yes, you can install these from the Play Store, but this is added hassle that you don't want when you initially set up your phone.

It also means more apps taking up the abysmal interior storage space.

Whilst it's possible to install apps on an external SD card, not every app can be, and Google have yet to build an 'Install to SD' feature into the Play Store, meaning not every app can be downloaded in the first place.

Verdict

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The ZTE KIS was clearly designed to be a budget phone. The low-powered internal components really leave a lot to be desired, as do the external components, namely the screen.

Were we able to trade any of these features off against the price tag though? In short, no.

The price tag may be low, at £59.99, but there are other phones on the market with similar price tags that do a lot more.

ZTE has entered a fierce budget market, facing off against older competition such as the Samsung Galaxy Ace, as well as budget rivals such as the Sony Xperia Tipo, LG Optimus L3 and Huawei Ascend G300.

Leaving the Kis with an almost un-skinned Android 2.3, when other rivals are already releasing Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices, means the Kis is really starting on the back foot.

A poor camera, slow processor and dodgy screen don't win back any points.

This may be the cheapest smartphone on the market today, but the longer we use the ZTE Kis, the more we wish that ZTE had put in a few more features, as, at that price, we would be willing to pay a little more.