Test driving the new ZTE Racer

ZTE, whose F930 we looked at here, are back with another medium spec handset, to the delight of budget conscious shoppers everywhere. ZTE invited Latest Gadgets to have a play with their newest attempt to win the hearts and minds of the average mobile phone shopper.

ZTE-racer

The ZTE racer is an Android powered smartphone, that shuns the latest and greatest for “quite good”. Unveiled to an audience of spec hungry tech journalists, there was distinct apathy at the Racer’s humble offering, running Eclair, or Android 2.1. However, people who have to actually pay for their phones will probably see one key figure and rejoice – the handset is £99 on PAYG from 3. Compared to a £599 iPhone 4, the cheap and cheerful handset gives owners pleanty to smile about.

Mr. Wu Sa, director of mobile device operations, ZTE (UK) Ltd, explained that ZTE are not necessarily in the business of placing cutting edge technology in the hands of the elite (although they do have an eye on the high end). The Racer is instead part of a move to democratize technological advances, “making smart phones available to the UK market at prices affordable by th majority of UK consumers”. £99 PAYG is pretty cheap by any measure, and arguably puts Internet access into the hands of a greater number of people – people, who want Facebook, Twitter and email on their phones rather than those obsessing over Snapdragon processors.

So what does £99 get you? A 2.8″ QVGA touchscreen, 3.2 Megapixel camera and 7.2 Mbps HSDPA. More meaningfully you gain access to a reasonable variety of internet services – Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, Google Maps and the Wild West of mobile apps that is the Android Marketplace.

Oddly the handset most threatened by the ZTE racer is the ZTE F930. For a few dollars more you can jump into the world of smart phones. I remember recommending the F930 as an ideal handest for students, teens or people on a budget. Now the ZTE racer is on the scene I’d have to recommend spending that extra £30.

Beauty is in the eye of the ZTE-holder: The new ZTE F930

Fancy a mobile phone that will enable you to access your mail, Facebook and Twitter accounts but don’t feel like dropping hundreds of pounds of waiting hours and hours in queues for shiny new iPhones? Well thanks to a new handset collaboration between ZTE and 3 you may not have to.

ZTE and 3 invited us down to have a play with the F930 and to talk a little about the future of mobile phones. The F930 is a cheap and cheerful touch screen 3G handset, targeted at students or first jobbers who don’t necessarily have the disposable income to drop on the latest and greatest but who still need access to social media on the go.
The F930 is smooth and pebble like and more chic than any phone that cheap has any right to be. The virtual keyboard was a little too small for my chubby fingers and I struggled to type fluidly. However the slender-fingered lady next to me had no problems at all and Mr. Wu Sa, director of mobile device operations, ZTE (UK) Ltd, was quick to point out there had been a stylus neatly tucked away in the corner of the phone all along that made typing much easier.

Unsurprisingly for a 3 phone, the F930 works well with Skype and has a host of features that are slowly becoming standard on low-end phones – a capacitive touch screen, Bluetooth, multimedia music player and a three mega-pixel camera. I took a few pictures of the slender fingered lady, which were unspectacular but fine for a casual shot at a party – exactly where I could see this phone being used. Planet 3 – an App store from the days before the App Store, also works and has a host of simple games and utilities as well as musical offerings.

If I was a parent looking for a functional phone for my tweens, a student on a budget or a just someone who didn’t want all the bells and whistles of a smartphone … but did want some bells and whistles I’d be happy with the ZTE F930. The F930 is £69.99 on a Pay As You Go contract and free on certain Pay Monthly tariffs.

ZTE and Three UK are also announcing an online competition that will give consumers the chance to win an F930 and a bespoke handbag to house the new handset. The competition will go live later this month and give five lucky winners a luxury leather handbag valued at £500, which will be customised according to the winner’s preferences and include a ZTE F930 compartment.