ZTE Fury

Could a device that is only $19.99 on a two-year contract hold any relevance in the Android world in 2012? It seems that lately you can either drop a couple of hundred dollars to get yourself a highly spec'd device or you can take the cheaper route and grab a mid range device, but what do you sacrifice by doing that? ZTE has been trying to become more reputable, they recently also released the ZTE Warp, and now they have brought the ZTE Fury to Sprint.

On paper the device has specs of what we saw in most 2011 devices, so that leaves us wondering -- is the ZTE Fury a year late to the party? Let's hit the break and check out how the device performed as it was put through the paces, and see if it could be enough to make it as your next daily driver.


The Good

For the price the ZTE Fury is a moderately spec'd Android device. The 3.5-inch screen is one that many will enjoy, it allows the device to have a nice small overall feel.

The Bad

Locking into a device like this on contract will ensure to keep you far behind on the Android technology. Camera is pretty bad, and barely even worth using.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for an entry-level device, and having the latest and greatest device isn't a big thing for you this could be a great option. The ZTE Fury is priced at a point to sell, but price shouldn't be everything.

Video Hands-On


Youtube link for mobile viewing

The Hardware

When looking at smartphone's it is pretty safe to associate the price of the device with the overall spec's that are included inside. This being said, the ZTE Fury is priced at $19.99 on a two-year contract, so as you could imagine this device is aimed to be an entry level device, to mid range. Now that we have established this, let's take a further look at it.

Featuring a 3.5-inch touch screen it is far from the largest screen on the market, but 3.5 inches seems to be quite a sweet spot for many. A large advantage to the "smaller" screen is the increased battery life, and that is a big deal. 

ZTE Top Side  ZTE Fury Bottom

When it comes to the overall layout of the phone there isn't much here that we haven't seen in the past. The front of the device has the speaker at the top, and the four capacitive-touch buttons on the bottom. One thing to note, there is no front facing camera on this device, not a huge loss as most of them aren't the greatest but it is a nice thing to have included.

ZTE Fury Left Side  ZTE Fury Right Side

On the left side there is a volume rocker at the top, and the micro-USB charger at the bottom. The right side is pretty simple with just a dedicated camera button at the bottom.

ZTE Fury Top

Up top you will find the 3.5mm headphone jack in the center, and the power button just to the right of that, and the bottom of the device features just a notch for removing the battery cover. 

ZTE Fury Back Side

Flipping the device over you will find the 5MP camera with LED flash in the upper left corner, and then down the bottom there is a speaker. The rest of the back is filled with a slick battery cover that features a circular dot pattern and the ZTE logo down the bottom.

ZTE Fury Back

Removing the battery door will bring you to the 1500mAh battery that is included with the device, and will also reveal the micro-SD card slot right below the camera. It is nice that the memory card is not right near the battery because you can easily access it without having to remove the battery.

What's under the hood

It would be safe to say that the ZTE Fury is like a Toyota Corolla, reliable, comfortable and when needed it can be fast enough to avoid any issues. 

Powered by a 1GHz processor the device moves around pretty quickly and with minimal screen lag. While moving from one screen to the next, or playing a graphic intensive game there will be times some lag can be noticed, but that is with just about every device available. Included internally the device has 512MB of RAM, but on the plus side they have included 4GB of memory.

Sitting with only 512MB of RAM, it would be safe to say that odds are that this device will remain with Gingerbread for a long time to come, unless by some miracle ZTE pushes an update (we have seen crazier things happen). Of course there is always the amazing Android community to bring ICS unofficially to the device, but that will depend on how many users end up with one of these in their hands.

No 4G, LTE, or Wi-Max to be seen here, no extra features, and nothing to make it really stand out above the rest. One thing I have noticed during my time with the Fury is that the radio on the device (whether just this unit or all of them we are unsure) seems to be rather weak. I have had a hard time staying connected to the 3G network, and the device seems to drop back to 1X quite often. Could be this unit only, or could be something they will address through an update, but definitely something to note.

Battery life was pretty standard, if you are looking to get through the day you should have no issues. No promises can be made beyond that, and of course depending on your usage habits your results will vary in either direction.

The software

ZTE Fury Home Screens

A phone running Gingerbread is sure to be a huge disappointment, right? Well to some yes, but to the average consumer they likely won't notice, and since a majority of devices are still with Gingerbread it is still rather acceptable. One thing to note here is that ZTE has chosen to include a rather vanilla Android experience, and no crazy skins throughout. 

ZTE Help

Featuring the stock Gingerbread launcher you have access to the phone and Sprint ID packs easily from the bottom, and then there are five home screens which you can load with widgets and icons as you please. ZTE includes a set of tutorial widgets which help walk through the operation of the device for new users. 

ZTE Bloat

Aside from SprintZone and Sprint ID there is next to no pre-installed bloat ware on this device, which is a huge relief. This allows you to have access to more of that included 4GB of space to put your own apps, instead of having apps put there for you that you can't remove.

The camera

ZTE Fury Camera

As stated above, there is only one camera on this device, and that is pretty disappointing. The back of the device features a 5MP camera, which appears to be standard on most devices now-a-day. Keep in mind that the 5MP is just a number, and a lot more than that goes into the quality of the camera. That said the camera is actually quite impressive as long as you aren't using the flash. Macro images come out rather well, but they do take a few seconds to focus, so if you have the patience you can capture some great images with it.

One big problem with flashes on phones is that they sit so close to the camera lens that they often do more negative stuff to the image than they do positive, and that is definitely the case here. As you can see from the images below the flash can highly distort the image and is something you will likely only want to use when absolutely needed.

And then let's talk about the video camera. Let's just hope you won't have to use it much, and if you do the audio is not important. The quality of the camera is sub-par, and the audio is flat out terrible in my testing. The audio gets extremely muffled regardless of how you try to use it, and it's likely you will be disappointed.

Warning: Images below open in full resolution in a new window

Camera with Flash  Camera without Flash

Macro Camera  Tree on Camera

 

The wrap-up

So, is the ZTE Fury worth the $19.99 price tag that they priced it at? The choice is ultimately your own to make, and while it may seem like a good deal at the time of the sale, is this really something you could see yourself spending the next two years with? The device is already about a year late to the party, so add two more years of evolving technology and think of where you will feel with this device.

Performance wise the Fury definitely lives up to expectations, and there is more than enough internally storage space for your favorite applications, but with so many new devices coming around the corner (many of which will likely launch with ICS) is a entry level Gingerbread device worth anyones time at this point? 

 
There are 12 comments

icebike says:

Jared: When I click on the flower (for bigger image), the video overlays it when using Google Chrome. Doesn't happen with Firefox.

sagar76 says:

even i was facing the same problem with my ZTE phone, I contacted customer care, they informed to uninstall the google chrome software.turn of your phone, and again turn on ur phone and install the google chrome software,and after this if ur facing the same problem upgrade the software, this is the information given from customer care, and which helped me, now i am not facing any problem, so contact customer care

jcastag says:

One question. Why?

mozes316 says:

Why not. A great way to start a teen with a smartphone... if they can make it 2 yrs without breaking it, then get them that Evo. lol

jmagnt7 says:

I'm actually looking to get my mom a new phone. Android of course but I need to keep it really simple and obviously not to big. My OG evo is way too much phone for her but I still want her to move up from her dinosaur flip phone. Any suggestions. I'd say this one may be perfect but the camera is one of those things I'll definitely be teaching her to use often and want a good experience in that regard.
Thanks for any info

Fumetsu says:

I gave my mom my Nexus S 4G with ICS installed on it, and while she doesn't even use 5% of the features, she manages to navigate on it fairly well. She too had an ancient flip phone before I gave her my old Nexus and now she's happy because "all the young girls at work say [she] has a better phone than they do". She's obsessed with Live Wallpaper and has changed it about 80 times since I gave it to her. :)

FrasierCrane says:

A smartphone isn't really something you should skimp this much on, unless you really can't afford more, because the carrier subsidizes more of your purchase as you go up the scale. This baby would probably cost under $200 off-contract, so the carrier is subsidizing about $150 on it. On the other hand, Verizon bites off over $500 if you get a Razr Maxx right now. Either way, you pay the same monthly bill, which of course includes a hidden device recoupment charge. So low-end buyers actually subsidize high-end buyers, which is pretty wack if you think about it.

bendee says:

Agreed - this would be a worthwhile device for $149 on Virgin Mobile, but not at all worth it on a 2 year contract. Looking at Sprint's website, the Nexus S 4G is free on contract, and a much better phone at that.

Well said, having a phone for 2 years it makes sense to pay the extra 100 - 200$ to have a top tier phone to make the 2 years fun and the phone also capable. 2 years ago, I went with a sup par nokia phone, it did function well but it wasn't a joyous device to use, I mainly used it for calling and that was it, no messaging, no media consumption, barely any camera use mainly because the camera was 3MP that provided grainy photos. Not going to make the same mistake in 2012, dual core 8MP, brilliant displays and up to date OS should be tops on everyones list unless they could not give a rat's ass about what a phone can do besides calling.

xxeerr says:

Nice with powerful applications.The phone is really good! slim and super light.Loaded with lots of apps..It's very easy to set-up and easy to use.It is my first smart phone, the service is great,very happy with it and it does all the things i wants it to do.

Williams007 says:

I like this phone because it has got very good quality of camera with LED flash and Autofocus, 5 Megapixel!!!! And, the most amazing part is it has got 4GB of Internal Memory...! Amazing phone with amazing features.

we really can't expect quality snappers at this price point.