Straight Talk ZTE Rapido Review

Specs – Straight Talk ZTE Rapido

zte-rapidoZTE RapidoCheck Availability
Dimensions Height 5.30″ x Width 2.60″ x Thickness .42″
Weight 4.94 Ounces
Form Factor Medium Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA LTE, WiFi/Activated with Verizon
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Quad core
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.0
Digital Camera 8 mega pixels/1mp front facing camera/LED flash
Screen 4.5″ Diagonal , Gorilla Glass
Battery Life 15 days stand by & up to 11 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $179.99

About the ZTE Rapido

The ZTE Rapido is an all new CDMA LTE phone from Straight Talk. This particular phone is noteworthy because it is the first Straight Talk LTE device for the Verizon calling area. This is a quality device that has some unusually higher end features for a phone in the sub $200 category. This is probably one of the better LTE devices currently available.

zte-rapido-2

Specs

The noteworthy specs on the Rapido are the 4 1/2″ Gorilla Glass screen, the awesome 8 mega pixel camera and the 1.2 ghz quadcore processor. In my mind, these are probably the best dollar to spec ratio in the Straight Talk LTE device family. That is to say, you are not going to find another Straight Talk LTE phone with these specs for anything less than $200.

I was quite surprised to learn that this phone came with a Gorilla Glass screen because that is usually reserved for devices costing $200 or more, particularly when they are of the LTE variety. Not only will this screen give you durability, it’s also quite slick to the touch. Unlike some of the plastic screened devices, the screen offers little resistance when you swipe your finger on it. This makes the phone feel extremely responsive, more so than its plastic screened counter parts. Now I don’t know if it’s the glass, but I found this phone to be especially bright and crisp so videos and the like look great!

zte-rapido-5 zte-rapido-3

The next spec worth talking about is the 8mp camera. This is another rather high end spec not typically found on a phone at this price range. The camera has an LED flash and a 1 mp front facing unit as well for the selfie loving crowd. One neat camera feature were the available filters such as sketch, neon, emboss, sepia and a few others. I think there are around 10 such filters available for selection prior to taking an image.

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I was really impressed with the specs of this phone. These higher end specs are unusually for the ZTE brand at this price range so this phone is an excellent choice.

Design & Look Feel

I found the design of this phone to be quite attractive. The phone features a black chrome look bezel that surrounds the screen. So this is not a boring simple black rectangle by any means. The remaining design is pretty typical. Below the screen, you find the typical 3 button Android layout that are backlit. The power button is located on the top right, the volume on top left, charge port on lower left and headphone jack is on top.

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One item that makes this phone feel like a quality unit is the Gorilla Glass screen as it does not have the cheap plastic feel to it. Not only that but your fingers glide smoothly when swiping the screen. I think this makes a huge difference over the plastic screened units. This isn’t really noticed until you try a plastic screen unit side by side. In short, this is a device that looks and feels much more expensive than it really is.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I would rate this phone as one of the best LTE devices available from Straight Talk at this price range. You will simply not find a better LTE phone under $200 at the moment. The one caviat is that you will need to have Verizon LTE coverage in order to activate this phone in your area.

Compare the ZTE Rapido LTE and Alcatel OneTouch Pop Star LTE

Today we are comparing two all new LTE phones from Straight Talk. Namely in the form of the ZTE Rapido and the Alcatel OneTouch Pop Star. These two phones are worthy of comparison because both are of course LTE phones and both are in the same sub $200 price range. Both of these phones are unique in that the ZTE Rapido is the first Verizon LTE device while the Pop Star is the lowest priced LTE Straight Talk phone to date.

Check Straight Talk Availability

zte-rapido

ZTE Rapido

Rapido Availability

 

alcatel_pop_star

Alcatel Pop Star

Pop Star Availability

 

Phone Dimensions 5.30″ x2.60″ x 0.42″ 4.80″ x 2.51″ x 0.36″
Screen Size Diagonal:4.5″ Diagonal: 4.00″
Gorilla Glass Screen Yes No
Processor Speed 1.2ghz Quadcore
1.2ghz Quadcore
Weight 4.94 oz 4.66 oz
Android Version 4.0 4.3
Technology & Calling Area CDMA LTE/WiFi (Verizon, Check your local LTE coverage) GSM LTE Activated via AT&T(Check your local LTE Coverage)
Speaker Yes Yes (Excellent audio quality!)
Headphone Jack 3.5mm (iPod type) 3.5mm (iPod type)
SD card slot Not Included, supports up to 32gb Not Included, supports up to 32gb
Camera 8 mega pixel/LED flash/Front facing 1.0mp
5 mega pixel / LED Flash/front facing 1mp
Price $179.99 $149.99

Technology and Calling Area

If there is one key item to take note of, it is the calling area. The ZTE Rapido requires Verizon LTE coverage while the Pop Star will require AT&T LTE. Please check your local calling area before you purchase either phone. One noteworthy item here is the fact that the ZTE Rapido is the first Verizon LTE phone available from Straight Talk. All other Straight Talk LTE devices to date have been for AT&T.

Specs

There are three key differences between these phones other than the above mentioned calling area. The first is the fact that the Rapido comes to us with the durable Gorilla Glass screen, while the Alcatel device does not. Next, is the camera. The ZTE Rapido comes with an 8 mega pixel digital camera while the Pop Star has a 5 mega pixel unit. Both of the phones have 1 mp front facing cameras and LED flash. Yet another difference on the cameras is the fact that the Rapido has various preset image filters which you can use to take some cool pictures. For example, it has an Emboss, Neon and Sketch filters which you set prior to taking a picture and result in some really cool images. The Pop Star does not have these filters. Last, is the screen size as the Rapido has the slightly larger 4.5″ screen versus the 4″ screen on the Pop Star.

Other than the above mentioned differences, the main specs are pretty much the same. Both phones have 1.2 quadcore GHz processors so both perform quite good.

Design & Build Quality

I think it’s pretty obvious that the ZTE unit has a much better build quality than the Alcatel as it comes with the Gorilla Glass screen. The Alcatel on the other hand is all plastic including the screen. Not only that but when you look at these two phones, the ZTE Rapido stands out because it has cool black chrome looking trim that goes around the perimeter of the phone. The Pop Star does not have any such trim. Instead, the battery cover not only covers the battery but extends to the sides of the phone so the Volume and Power buttons are part of the battery cover. The entire phone is all black and the battery cover is of the rubberized finished type.

Additionally, the Rapido has an excellent speaker that yields a much better sound quality. The Alcatel was a bit tin can sounding for me. While on the multimedia topic, the ZTE also had a brighter and sharper screen which makes for an excellent multimedia experience.

I found the ZTE Rapido to be a much more attractive phone with excellent overall build quality.

Conclusion

I would say that the ZTE Rapido is probably the best Straight Talk LTE device. I really liked the design and build quality. The Gorilla Glass really sets the Rapido head and shoulders above the Pop Star.

Straight Talk Alcatel One Touch Pop Star LTE

Specs – Straight Talk Alcatel One Touch Pop Star LTE

straight-talk-alcatel-pop-star
Dimensions Height 4.80″ x Width 2.51″ x Thickness .36″
Weight 4.66 Ounces
Form Factor Medium Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology GSM LTE with WiFi/Activated with AT&T
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Quad core
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.3
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/1mp front facing camera/LED flash
Screen Size 4.0″ Diagonal
Battery Life 15 days stand by & up to 11 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $149.99

About the One Touch Pop Star LTE

Here is another long named Alcatel device from Straight Talk. This phone can be considered the baby brother to the Alcatel Sonic  and even smaller brother to the Alcatel Pop Mega. This is because the One Touch Pop Star has a much smaller 4″ screen. Essentially, all other specs are quite similar to the a fore mentioned Sonic. One notable feature is the fact that the Pop Star comes with the newer Android 4.3.

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The main feature here is that the One Touch Pop Star comes with the fast LTE data which would be activated with either AT&T or TMobile.  I would recommend this phone if you want the fast LTE data in a smaller form factor than the other Alcatel One Touch devices.

Specs

I think that this little phone has some nice specs for the $149.99 price tag. In fact, this is the lowest priced LTE Straight Talk device to date.  To begin with, the Pop Star comes with fast LTE data. The next item worth talking about is the 1.2ghz quad core processor. This fast processor coupled with Android 4.3 makes the Pop Star a super fast performer. I think this phone is a bargain for the specs.

One of the items I really like on this phone is the same 5mp digital camera that comes with the One Touch Sonic. The camera on this little phone takes excellent images. In addition, the camera has built in LED flash so you can take decent low light images and a front facing 1mp unit. Granted, it’s not the 8mp unit found on the similarly priced ZTE Rapido.

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One disappointing item on this phone, is the rather poor sound quality. This one has the dreaded tin can sound to it. So this is not the best multi media phone out there. The screen is good but not as bright and and clear as some of the other LTE phones.

Overall, specs are great on this phone and you really can’t go wrong considering the relatively low cost.

Design & Look Feel

Perhaps the one and only slight disappointment on the Pop Star is the rather pedestrian looks of the phone. As with the other One Touch models, the Pop Star has the usual 3 button Android layout below the screen. All other items are in typical locations with the power/lock on the top, the headphone jack is also found on the top, the volume buttons are on the top right and finally the charge port is on the bottom.

One design element that I am not crazy about is the wrap around battery cover. This means the volume and power buttons are both incorporated into the battery cover. The phone is void of any design elements or trim so it’s a totally flat black phone. As expected on a low priced device, the screen and entire body is all plastic construction.

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So despite the Pop Star name, the phone isn’t exactly a Pop Star in looks. I think this is ok because this phone is all about great specs at an excellent price.

Final Thoughts

Like all the other Straight Talk One Touch series phones, the Pop Star LTE has some impressive specs for the price. Despite the sub $200 price tag, this phone is an excellent performer. I also like the compact form factor while still retaining the LTE data speeds. I would not hesitate to recommend this phone to anyone that has GSM LTE coverage in their area. That said, this isn’t the best looking phone in the world.

Compare The ZTE Quartz and Alcatel OneTouch Pop Mega

In today’s comparison, we have the battle of the “Heavy Weights” by way of the ZTE Quartz and Alcatel OneTouch Pop mega. Both of these phones are of the large form factor variety so if you like this type of form factor then this comparison may be of interest to you.

Note that the Pop Mega includes a Bluetooth “Buddy” device that allows you to make and receive phone calls and texts. (Device not pictured)

Check Straight Talk Availability

 quartz

ZTE Quartz

Unico Availability

 

straight-talk-alcatel-mega-popAlcatel Pop Mega

Sonic Availability

 

Phone Dimensions 6.05″ x3.10″ x 0.37″ 6.39″ x 3.30″ x 0.35″
Included Bluetooth Device None Includes Bluetooth “Buddy” device
Screen Size Diagonal:5.5″ Diagonal: 6.00″
Processor Speed 1.2ghz Quadcore
1.2ghz Quadcore
Weight 7.00 oz 6.55 oz
Android Version 4.3 Kit Kat 4.3 Kit Kat
Technology & Calling Area CDMA 3g/WiFi (Verizon or Sprint) GSM LTE Activated via AT&T or TMobile (Check your local LTE Coverage)
Speaker Yes Yes (Excellent audio quality!)
Headphone Jack 3.5mm (iPod type) 3.5mm (iPod type)
SD card slot Not Included, supports up to 32gb Not Included, supports up to 32gb
Camera 8 mega pixel/LED flash/Front facing 1.3mp
8 mega pixel / LED Flash/front facing 2mp
Price $199.99 $249.99

Technology and Calling Area

This I would say is main difference between the two devices. On the one hand, we have the ZTE Quartz which is a CDMA device, as such it would be activated with Verizon. Additionally, the phone is standard 3g so you do not get the fast LTE data. The Alcatel Pop Mega on the other hand, is a GSM phone with fast 4g LTE data. This means it would be activated with AT&T. Be sure to have LTE coverage in your area before purchasing this phone.

Conclusion, the Pop Mega will facilitate much faster data downloads so it’s worth the extra 50 bucks.

Specs

Specs are pretty much a wash. Both phones have excellent 8mp cameras with LED flash. They both have 1.2ghz Quadcore processors so both phones will perform basically the same. Then there is the large screens, the Mega has the larger 6″ screen compared to the 5 1/2″ unit on the Quartz. Truth be told, both screens look pretty much the same and both phones have measure pretty much the same as well.

The one item I will mention is the fact that the Pop Mega has much better sound quality when on speaker as it has a much larger speaker opening. It’s probably 4 times larger than the Quartz. There is definitely a noticeable difference between the two.

Lastly is the so called “Buddy” device that comes with the Pop Mega. This little device looks like an old school feature phone device. It woks by connecting to the phone via Bluetooth thus allowing you to make phone calls and text without using the main phone. The buddy device is quite small so you may find it more convenient to use when making phone calls.  It’s not very text friendly though because it’s alpha numeric.

Design & Build Quality

Build quality is again a wash on both phones. they are both plastic construction and neither has Gorilla Glass screen. I do find the Quartz to be a better looking phone because it has an aluminum look trim between the battery cover and phone bezel. The Pop Mega is all black with no such trim.

Android buttons are basically the same on both of these. Both phones have back lit buttons. Lastly is the battery cover with both phones having a slight rubberized feel to them. While I am writing about batteries, I will mention that both phones have permanent batteries. That is to say, they cannot be replaced when they go bad. Keep that in mind if you are the type to use your phone for a long time. Both batteries will probably give you over 2 years of service before you have to worry about it.

Conclusion

My conclusion is that the Alcatel OneTouch Pop Mega is the superior device here mainly because you get the fast LTE data speeds, larger screen without it being much bigger. You also get the “buddy” device which you can use to make a quick phone call. Before you buy the Pop Mega be sure to check your coverage area for LTE coverage from AT&T.

Straight Talk LG Access LTE Review

Specs – Straight Talk LG Access

lg_access
Dimensions Height 5.00″ x Width 2.60″ x Thickness .40″
Weight 4.5 Ounces
Form Factor Compact Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology GSM 4G LTE (Activates with AT&T or TMobile)
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Quadcore
SD Card/Internal Memory SD Card not included, supports up to 32gb
Android OS Kit Kat version- 4.4
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels with LED flash & .3 mp front facing
Screen Size 4.5″ Diagonal
Battery Life 10 days stand by & up to 7 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive Touch with center push button
USB microUSB v2.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $229.99

About the LG Access

lg_access_4The LG Access is an all new 4G LTE phone for Straight Talk. Highlights on the Access are 4g LTE data, Gorilla Glass screen, 1.2 ghz quad core processor, handsome design and extra apps such as Infra Red TV/Cable/Satellite remote app. The LG Access is an excellent phone with features typically found on higher end devices.

Specs

The base specs on the Access are excellent beginning with the 4G LTE fast data. Additionally, you get a Gorilla Glass screen and a fast 1.2ghz quadcore processor. This device comes with Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) so you get one of the latest Android Operating Systems out there.

While the price tag on this phone seems a bit high, you do get some extras not found on any other Straight Talk Android device at this price range. One of the coolest, is the built in Infra Red TV/Cable Box/Satellite remote which gives you the ability to control said devices directly from your phone. Programming the remote is quite easy as it guides you through the entire process. I was able to program it for my Sony LED TV and it worked great!

lg_access_2 lg_access_3

I also found some surprising little features in the settings as this phone comes with the face recognition capabilities so that it knows when to pause videos when you are not looking at it.  Finally, the last cool feature I found is the so called knock code. This allows you to program a sequence of touches to 1 of 4 quadrants on the screen. When this is programmed, you can bring the phone right out of sleep/lock by simply entering the touch sequence on the screen.

A bit of a let down was the 5mp camera as the resolution is a bit low for a phone at this price tag. I think this phone should have come with an 8mp unit. You do get an LED flash and a front facing .3 mp camera as well.

While there are other Straight Talk LTE devices for less money and similar specs, this is the only Straight Talk device I have found with the TV remote app.

Design & Look Feel

The Access design can be summed up as handsome. While this isn’t a super flashy design, it is what I would call attractive. What I really like about the Access is the size as this phone falls in the just right department. In other words, this phone is not too small that you can’t watch videos but it isn’t super large that you can carry it in you pocket.

lg_access_4 lg_access_5

Design elements include an aluminum look trim in between the screen bezel and battery cover. The phone bezel is a dark gray color that’s almost black.  The layout is as follows: volume button is on the upper left hand side, power/lock on the upper right hand side, head phone jack is on the top left and the charge port is on the bottom center. The android buttons are both capacitive touch and physical push. The touch buttons are to either side of the physical push one. Unlike similarly designed Straight Talk LGs, this one does not have the multi colored LED light surrounding the physical push button. Additionally, the capacitive touch buttons are not back lit. Lastly, is the gloss dark blue almost black patterned battery cover.

Overall, the design is minimal yet sophisticated. I liked the fact that it’s not solid black as it has just the right amount of design trims to break it up a bit. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of back light on the Android buttons but this was by no means a deal breaker for me.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I found the Access to be quite a nice little phone. I really liked the little remote control app simply because I have never found this capability on other phones, at least not without having to pay extra for an app. The Gorilla Glass and LTE speeds really set this phone apart from other similarly designed LG phones. That said, I did find a bit overpriced but I think it’s mostly because I have come to expect most Straight Talk LGs to be priced in the sub $200 price range.

Straight Talk Alcatel One Touch Pop Mega LTE

Specs – Straight Talk Alcatel OneTouch Pop Mega LTE

straight-talk-alcatel-mega-pop
Dimensions Height 6.39″ x 3.32″ x 0.34″
Weight 6.42 Ounces
Form Factor Xtra Large Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology GSM LTE 3g with WiFi/Activated with either Verizon or Sprint
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Dual Core
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.3
Digital Camera 8 mega pixels/2mp front facing camera/LED flash
Screen Size 6.0″ Diagonal
Battery Life 22 days stand by & up to 14 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $249.99

About the One Touch Pop Mega

The Pop Mega is the grandaddy of them all when it comes to the Alcatel One Touch series. As the name implies, this phone is over the top HUGE. Make no mistake, this phone is bordering on phablet territory, it’s still a phone but almost a tablet.  This is by far the largest screened budget device Straight Talk has released to date. Of course the large screen implies that the phone body is large and it is indeed. This thing measures close to 6.5 inches in height! It’s also rather wide at over 3.25″ wide, most phones are around 2.5″. The good news is though that it is quite slim measuring in at just .35 inches in thickness.

Aside from the obvious large size, the other notable aspect of the Pop Mega is the fast LTE data speeds.  Be aware that this phone is GSM so will require either AT&T or TMobile LTE coverage. In short, I think this is about as close to the S4 in terms of size you are going to find at this price range.

Specs

I think the star here is obviously the ENORMOUS screen size. This one comes in at around 6.0″” measured diagonally. This one is not for the faint of heart when it comes to size and don’t even think about it if you are a pocket carrier because this thing will NOT fit in any pant pocket.

Yet another star on this phone is the excellent 8mp camera. It’s one of the only budget Straight Talk devices with that many megapixels at its disposal. Most other phones in the Straight Talk line come in at the usual 5 mp resolution.

Lastly, is the 1.2ghz Dualcore processor that’s coupled with the 4.3 Android version. This one has plenty of horsepower to drive the massive screen.

Design & Look Feel

The most obvious design feature here is the impressive size. Other than that, everything else is pretty standard on the phone. It comes with all black plastic construction which is typical for a budget line phone and everything is located where one would typically find things on a phone of this nature. The Android buttons below the screen are capacitive touch and per usual, you only get the 3 button layout. The phone is void of any decorative type elements such as chrome trims and such.

The one cool feature is the fact that there is very little wasted space on the face as the massive screen takes up just about 100% of it. It’s quite efficient on real estate usage to say the least.

Final Thoughts

You really need to be a HUGE fan of large form factor phones, no pun intended. This phone can be summed up with it’s name sake MEGA. If that’s your ticket, then I highly recommend this phone as it has Samsung S like features and size at a very sub $300 affordable price tag.

Straight Talk ZTE Quartz

Specs – Straight Talk ZTE Quartz

Default
Dimensions Height 6.11″ x Width 3.00″ x Thickness .36″
Weight 7.00 Ounces
Form Factor Compact Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA 3g Data with WiFi
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz dualcore
SD Card/Internal Storage 2gb built in/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card. No SD card included.
Android OS Jelly Bean version- 4.3
Digital Camera 8 mega pixels
Screen Size 5.5″ Diagonal
Battery Life 12 days stand by & up to 12 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons with physical push center button
USB microUSB v2.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $199.99

About the ZTE Quartz

Today we examine the all ZTE Quartz from Straight Talk. This is a ginourmously large screened device that doesn’t break the bank. If you like large screens but don’t want to spend a ton, then perhaps this one is worth taking good look at. Other than the large screen, the Quartz features and excellent and Straight Talk class leading 8mp digital camera so this one is a great choice for the selfie and picture loving taking bunch!

Specs

The Quartz features some eye popping features for the price. First and foremost, I must mention the large 5.5″ screen. Yes, that’s right, the 5″ screen! This screen looks amazing for the cost. Videos, images and web sites look simply amazing with the high resolution so those who enjoy their multimedia should really take a close look at this phone.

Another feature really worth mentioning is the the class leading 8mp digital camera. By class leading, I mean for Straight Talk mid to entry level devices. No other Straight Talk phone has this high a camera resolution to date, that is this far south of the Galaxy S class and iPhone. Suffice it to say, this phone will take one mean selfie and/or picture.

The remaining specs are quite typical for a phone at this price range. With the Quartz, we get Android 4.3 and a 1.2 ghz dualcore processor. One item of disappointment is the fact that you do not get an SD card included with the phone and you will need to run out and get one if you plan on storing lots of music and/or images as the phone really only has about 1 gig worth of usable space.

Design Look Feel

The design on this phone is typical ZTE. That is to say, all plastic construction (including the screen). One thing I really like this phone is the fact that they made the screen take up just about the entire face of the phone. This is a good thing because this device is quite large so real estate is at a premium here.

The layout is fairly typical in that you get a 3 button layout just below the screen. The strip that houses the buttons is quite small because again, the screen is the real star here. The rest of the layout reveals a slightly different than usual layout with the both the volume and power/lock button living on the right had side of the phone, the headphone jack on top and the charge port on bottom.

Now this phone is more squarish than round so it tends to feel quite large in the hand. That said, I don’t think a rounded design would make this one feel any smaller because the phone measures slightly over 6″ in height. One thing you will find, if you’ve never handled a large phone like this, is that it tends to feel very top heavy when you hold it from the bottom, like in a texting in Portrait mode situation.

Final Thoughts

This phone is really large so pocket carriers need not apply! Additionally, I felt that while the phone is nice enough, it is a bit overpriced considering you don’t event get LTE. That said, this is a good multimedia device for video lovers on a budget. Do keep in mind that the sound quality is not the best though acceptable. Finally, the high resolution camera is great but I’m still not sure the phone is quite worth the price tag. If you like large screened devices and have AT&T LTE coverage in your area, I would rather go for the Alcatel OneTouch Pop Mega being that you get much more for just $50 more.

Tracfone Alcatel One Touch Pop Icon

Specs – Tracfone Alcatel OneTouch Pop Icon

straight-talk-alcatel-pop-icon
Dimensions Height 5.55″ x Width 2.84″ x Thickness .38″
Weight 5.30 Ounces
Form Factor Large Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA 3g data with WiFi/Activated with either Verizon or Sprint
Calling Plan Tracfone Android plan
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz Quad Core
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.4
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/front facing camera/LED flash
Screen Size 5.0″ Diagonal
Battery Life 15 days stand by & up to 11 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price

149.99 Check Availability

About the OneTouch Pop Icon

Besides being  a mouthful to say, this Alcatel device is a large screened entry level device for the multimedia lovers out there. Highlight here is an enormous 5.0″ screen. One interesting feature on the phone is what they call “Simple Mode” which is designed with novice smartphone users in mind. When in “Simple Mode”, the icons become jumbo large and the navigation is simplified to 3 basic screens, the contacts screen, main home screen with phone dialer/text and the apps menu that displays all apps from A-Z in a running table similar to a contacts type view.

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Specs

For the price, the Pop Icon brings great specs to the Tracfone Android plan.  This phone is far superior to the basic Androids previously available. For starters, you get a quad core 1.2 ghz processor along with one of the newer Android versions in the form of Android 4.4.  The most obvious item of course is the huge 5.0″ screen which looks great when watching movies and the like. This is currently the largest screened device currently available direct from Tracfone.

The phone also has a great digital camera as it comes with a 5mp unit and built in LED flash. Additionally, you get a .3 mp front facing camera located in the upper right hand corner.

Last but not least, is the excellent speaker yielding great sound quality when on speaker or watching videos. The Pop Icon has a fairly large speaker on the bottom rear of the phone. For sure the best sound quality having Tracfone currently available.

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Design & Look Feel

The design is nothing super special here. It comes to us with the prototypical 3 button Android layout that has now become standard fare on entry level devices.  An all black plastic body highlights the simple and easy to use design.  The body is all black without any fancy chrome looking trims. The back battery cover is flat black with a bit of a rubberized feel to it. The bezel around the phone is satin black. As expected, the screen is also plastic so no Gorilla Glass on this one.

pop-1 pop-2

Moving on the rest of the layout, on the top you find the usual 3.5mm headphone iPod style jack. The volume and power buttons are located on the right hand side and finally the charge port is located on the bottom. One thing to mention is that this one does not come with a preinstalled SD card so you will need to purchase one to store your music and the like. This one supports up to a 32gb card.

Ease of Use

One of the items worth mentioning on this phone is the ease of use feature called “Simple Mode”. What this does is to simply make navigation more intuitive by reducing the navigation down to 3 screens. The first screen is the contacts, the main screen contains the main phone dialer and text messaging icons and finally the last screen lists all of the apps in a running table similar to how you would see a contacts list. The phone comes configured with this out of the box.  Lastly, when in “Simple Mode”, the icons become jumbo large so they are easily visible without putting on your pair of reading glasses.  This feature can easily be defeated by by going into the Settings and turning the simple mode off. I have reviewed well over 100 phones and this is the first time I see this feature so it seems to be something unique to this specific model.

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Since you get a 5″ screen, the texting keyboard is quite easy to navigate because the icons are a bit larger than is typically found on smaller phones. The phone dialer also has large icons making that easy to navigate as well. One thing I will mention is that all other apps remain the same as far as navigation and ease use (or lack there of). The icons on the apps also remain the same size as if the phone were in regular mode.

Final Thoughts

I always like Alcatel phones because they have great features for the money. The OneTouch Pop Icon is no exception. For $149.99, you get excellent specs and a large screen.  Before you buy the OneTouch Pop Icon, be sure you are in a Verizon or Sprint calling area. Also keep in mind that this phone is 3g phone only.

Straight Talk Huawei Magna

Specs – Straight Talk Huawei Magna

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Dimensions Height 4.96″ x 2.51″ x 0.43″
Weight 5.29 Ounces
Form Factor Large Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology GSM 4g with WiFi/Activated with either AT&T or TMobile
Calling Plan Straight Talk $45 Unlimited
Downloadable Apps Yes, all apps available through Google Play store. Comes with Youtube, Google Maps, GPS Navigation.
Processor 1.2 ghz
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Android 4.3
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels
Screen Size 4.5″ Diagonal
Battery Life 10 days stand by & up to 10 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v4.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price n/a

About the Huawei Magna

I’m not really sure what to make of the Huawei Magna. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this device. It’s got good specs, an excellent price and it does everything well. My problem with this phone is that it just does not stand out.

There’s not a single item on this phone that I can point out is unique to this particular model.  About the only thing I can say is noticeable is the 4g data speeds. Now don’t confuse this with 4G LTE as it is not the same. This phone is more of enhanced 3g speeds.

Specs

Specs here are fairly average for a phone at this price range. The main reason I have always liked Huaweis was simply because they were inexpensive and reliable. The same can be said about this phone and its specs. I will try to summarize everything here though to be honest, there’s nothing that really stands out about the phone specs wise.

For starters, the phone comes with a 4.5″ screen measured diagonally which is not about the standard size on most new phones.  The screen performs great and displays bright and clear, no complaints there to be sure.

Next, is the 1.2 ghz processor that performs great with Android 4.3. This is not a dualcore unit like the Alcatel LTE devices, which I highly recommend by the way. The equivalent to this device is the Alcatel One Touch Pop Star LTE. Anyhow, continuing on, we next find a typical 5mp digital camera that performs admirably.

Final Thoughts

The Huawei Magna is a fine device with a great price tag for the budget conscious. That said, there is simply nothing on it that stands out for me. I would say this phone is about average compared to most others at this price point on the Straight Talk line up. This is not to say the phone performs in an average manner, it’s just that there are any stand out highlights on it to speak of.

Straight Talk Audiovox Car Connection Safe Driver Review

Straight Talk Car Connection

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Kit Contents
OBD2 Car Connection device with 10 days initial service, instruction manual
Connection Type
Connects to OBD2 diagnostic port
Compatibility Car must be equipped with OBD2 port – Most 2003+ Makes and Models.
Installation Simple plug and play
Monthly Plan $10 a month or $100 a year
Coverage
Requires GSM you must have either AT&T or TMobile coverage
Price
139.99 – Check Availability

About the Save Driver Car Connection

The Straight Talk Save Driver Car Connection device allows you to monitor various aspects of a car’s health, MPG,  and location by using a cell phone signal to transmit the data to either a smartphone app or online.  In addition, it allows you to set up cell phone restrictions using the Zoom Safer app on a target device. This is an excellent device for monitoring your teen driver or spouse any time anywhere.  The monthly cost is $10 a month or $100 a year.  Initially, I thought the device was kind of gimmicky but I was pleasantly surprised to find the comprehensive data logging very interesting and useful.

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How it Works , Compatibility and Installation

The device works by using a GSM cell phone connection to transmit the cars data to either a mobile app or online.  The data is provided by your vehicle’s OBD2 diagnostic port which is standard on most 2003 and newer cars.  While the device is advertised as being compatible with 2003 and newer vehicles, there are lots of cars with OBD2 ports prior to 2003 which I verified by plugging it into my 2002 Subaru Impreza.

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What’s neat about this device is that you can monitor all kinds of data remotely without having to have your smartphone in the car. So you can be at home yet still be able to monitor the car anywhere there is GSM coverage.  The only drawback that I found is that you must have the device active with Straight Talk or the device is nothing more than a $139 paper weight. Without the Straight Talk service, you cannot get any data out of it since it cannot be connected to either a computer or phone as it does not have Blue Tooth capabilities or USB connector.

Installing the device is very easy. The hardest part is locating your OBD2 port as it varies from car to car. You will need to Google this if you do not know your car’s OBD2 port location. Other than that, you install it by simply plugging it in. It only installs one way so installation is very easy and takes 1 second.

The Data

I found the data provided by this device to be both comprehensive, useful and quite interesting. The device is able to monitor just about all aspects of your vehicle’s health including check engine lights, possible recalls as well as maintenance intervals. One of the coolest thing I found about the device and service was the ability to diagnose a Check Engine light by telling you exactly what triggered it and a description of the fault. Below are some screen shots of the data.

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Next is the ability to monitor the location of the car by its ability to log each trip. The device logs everything the car goes on a trip and parked. Whats really cool about this data is the fact that it logs the max speed to each location. In addition, it is able to detect and alert on items such as what aggressive acceleration. What’s impressive about all this is the fact that you can see this data from either a smartphone app or online from the car connection website.

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Yet another impressive feature is the ability to create “Safe Zones”. With this feature, you can set up an area where you can be alerted when the car leaves said area.  So for example, you can create a zones as large as your city to as small as 600 feet,  so if the car leaves your safe zone, then the device will alert you either by email or text.

The data logging capabilities of this device was very impressive and very accurate since it gets it’s data from both GPS and your cars computer. So for example, unlike GPS only devices, this device can determine your car’s speed extremely accurately.  I found the location data to be very accurate as well. All in all I was pretty amazed with all this thing logs.

Cell Phone Call and Text Restrictions

I was a bit disappointed with this feature. The reason for that is the way this feature is set up and works. The first thing is that you have to install the Zoom Safer app on the target phone.  So if you’re wanting to do this for your teen driver, then you must get their phone and install the app. The app is only available for Android and iPhone so it will not work with a non smartphone or a Windows phone. Anyhow, when the app installed, the service communicates with the app and thus enforces the restrictions you have set up. The problem with this is that your teen can easily uninstall this app without you really knowing it thus defeating the whole purpose of it.  The other problem here is that it of course will not apply restrictions to any other phone in the car.

So while this part of the service works, I just don’t think it will be all that effective.

Conclusion

I was very surprised by the device’s capabilities. I can see lots of benefits for concerned parents and spouses. The vehicle health capabilities were also really cool and beneficial. All in all, I would recommend this service to anyone. The only drawback of course is the $10 monthly price, though you could do the 1 year $100 option. The call restrictions were a bit disappointing but I guess it was because I was expecting it to some how jam all phones in the vehicle. I would say this device is a must for any parent with a teen driver.