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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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?