Straight Talk LG Optimus Fuel

Specs – Straight Talk LG Optimus Fuel

straight-talk-lg-fuel
Dimensions Height 4.28″ x Width 2.32″ x Thickness .47″
Weight 4.0 Ounces
Form Factor Compact Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA 3g (Activates 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
SD Card/Internal Memory 4gb SD card included, supports up to 32gb
Android OS Kit Kat version- 4.4
Digital Camera 3 mega pixels/no LED flash
Screen Size 3.5″ Diagonal
Battery Life 9 days stand by & up to 5 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive Touch and physical push with multi color LED light
USB microUSB v2.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $59.99

About the LG Optimus Fuel

straight-talk-lg-fuelThe LG Optimus Fuel is a very affordable device with great features. While you don’t pay alot for this phone, you get a phone that’s quite similar in specs to phones costing 2 to 3 times as much, with the exception of the screen size that is. Despite the low price, the Fuel is a fully functioning Android phone with all of the Android apps found on more expensive devices. Overall, this is a great little phone at an even better price. A great phone for children, teens or someone who wants an affordable phone.

Specs

Specs are quite impressive on this little phone even though it only costs $60. You get a 1.2 ghz processor, Anroid 4.4 and 3mp digital camera (no LED flash). What’s impressive here is that this phone has Android Kit Kat which is one of the newest versions out there. This is one of the first Straight Talks to come with Kit Kat. Lastly, it comes with a preinstalled 4gb SD card. The screen on this one measures only 3.5″ diagonally. This is both good and bad because while it makes for a very small device, the screen resolution leaves somewhat to be desired. You will find videos to be a bit more grainy that you find on larger phones. Images also don’t look as good as they do on bigger phones. This is always one of the drawbacks of small screened phones. On the positive side, the phone has a great speaker with excellent sound quality.

Design & Look Feel

The Fuel is very minimalist in the design department. That is to say, there isn’t a whole lot of bells and whistles here. It’s got all of the functional bits, it just doesn’t do it in a very fanciful way. For starters, it has the typical 3 button Android layout. The buttons are of the capacitive push variety but do not light up when pressed. The middle button is not capacitive, but rather is of the push button type. The middle button does have a cool little feature though as it has LED lighting around it which changes colors depending on what the phone is doing. For example, it lights up green on incoming calls, multicolored when the alarm goes on, red when charging and other modes. As expected, the phone is of the all plastic construction variety including a plastic screen. The battery cover has a textured finish and is easily removable. The remaining phone buttons are located as follows: volume on the left, headphone jack on top, power/lock on the right and the charge port on the bottom. Overall, this is by no means a fancy phone but it does it’s job in easy to use fashion.

Final Thoughts

The Optimus Fuel is a great little phone for the price. Probably the best performing phone at this price range from Straight Talk to date. It has plenty of power to perform any task you ask of it. This would be a perfect budget phone though it does still require the $45 unlimited card.

Straight Talk Motorola MOTO G

Specs – Straight Talk Motorola Moto G

straight-talk-moto-g
Dimensions Height 5″ x Width 2 1/2″ x Thickness 1/2″
Weight 4.9 Ounces
Form Factor Compact Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology XT939G – GSM 4g data with Wifi/Activated with either AT&T or TMobileNote that this is not LTE but 4g which is enhanced 3g
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 8gb built in/no expandable memory
Android OS Final Jelly Bean version- 4.3
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/front facing camera/LED flash/Unique Interface/Geo Tagging
Screen Size 4.5″ Diagonal/Gorilla Glass
Battery Life 9 days stand by & up to 5 hrs talk
Button Types No buttons/Android buttons built into Android
USB microUSB v2.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $169.99

About the Moto G

straight-talk-moto-gIt’s been a while since Straight Talk introduced and offered a Motorola device so the Moto G is a welcomed mid level device to their line up. The Moto G is offered as a GSMphone so will work in AT&T/Tmobile calling areas. While the Moto G is new to Straight Talk (released in May), the phone has been available since late December 2013. Specs geared more towards making the phone affordable but still comes with some neat items like Gorilla Glass, a water resistant coating and color battery covers (sold separately).

While on paper, the Moto G looks quite average, the phone has a very upscale look feel you can only find on the higher end brands like Samsung, HTC, Nokia, etc. This is a great phone for those who want an affordable device and a solid brand.

Specs

As we mentioned above, specs aren’t really mind blowing on the Moto G. Don’t get this confused with the higher end Motorolas because this phone was designed for the mid level consumer. For starters, the phone comes with a 1.2ghz quadcore processor which is plenty quick to run the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean OS.  Keep in mind that  this processor is much more powerful than your run of the mill dual core and single core units found on the other mid level Straight Talk offerings even though it is labeled as 1.2 ghz.

While the phone has plenty of horse power to run the latest Android Kit Kat, Straight Talk is shipping this with Android 4.3 which is still considered to be Jelly Bean all be it the highest Jelly Bean version before Kit Kat.

Moving on, we find a rather pedestrian 5mp camera which is somewhat disappointing but still good enough for most.  I found the pictures to be of good quality though they can be somewhat blurry in lower light situations.  I did like the camera interface as it is quite intuitive and different than most. It has a cool carousel type interface that you swipe and spins around, think Wheel of Fortune here, to reveal all the options. Another cool thing on the camera is that you can zoom by swiping up and down instead of the slider type zoom interfaces found on other devices. Also worth mentioning is the Geo tagging feature that allows you to tag the location where the image was taken. Lastly, it does have a 1.3 mp front facing camera which I found to be quite good when compared to other phones in this segment.

One bummer about this phone is the built in 8gb memory without an micro SD card port. This means that this phone’s storage capacity cannot be expanded by inserting a larger sd memory card. Another somewhat slight bummer is the non replaceable battery which cannot be what they call “user removed”.

Overall, the specs look somewhat average for a mid level phone but be aware that the processor on this thing is much more powerful because of its quadcore nature.  Also keep in mind that there is no other Straight Talk that will come with Gorilla Glass at this price point.

Design & Look Feel

The design of the Moto G is very familiar. That’s because it is designed in similar fashion to just about every other Android out there. One thing I will mention here, is that the phone has the curved back found in much more expensive phones instead of the flat brick like backs on the ZTEs and the like.  This and the rubberized cover make this one feel real nice in the hand. With that said, there are a few of design elements on this phone which are cool and out of the ordinary for a Straight Talk.

The first, is the water repellent coating that’s built into the phone. This means you can use the phone in rainy weather and the like. Don’t mistake this for waterproof because the phone is by no means waterproof.

Another cool element on this phone is the “floating” button design. What this means is that the phone does not have any physical buttons below the screen. Instead, this one has sort of buttons that are almost just like the Android icons and float above the Operating System screen at the bottom of the screen. This is easier seen than explained but can been in the in image above. Suffice it to say, this is a pretty cool element and one we have not seen on a Straight Talk device before.

Finally, there are colored battery covers that can be swapped out in lieu of the usual charcoal black job that it comes with. There are several colors available but must be purchased separately. One item of note there is that I couldn’t find where to buy them online but they are supposed to be out there someplace.

Final Thoughts

The Moto G is an excellent premium mid grade device. What is pleasantly surprising here is that the Moto G is actually cheaper thn other mid level Straight Talk ZTEs. The Moto G will give you far superior performance and quality for your money but there are some drawbacks such as a 5mp camera and non expandable memory. If you are looking for a mid level phone but don’t want to settle for the off brands, then the Motorola Moto G might be worth a good look. Another plus is tha Straight Talk is offering for both GSM and CDMA calling areas.

Comparing the Straight Talk Alcatel OneTouch Sonic and ZTE Unico

Today we compare two very similar phones from Straight Talk, namely the ZTE Majesty and ZTE Unico. This is a good comparison because both are very similarly sized spec’d. That said, they are different technology phones altogether, particularly when it comes to data speeds because the ZTE Unico is an LTE phone thus providing you with up to 10x data speeds.

Check Straight Talk Availability

straight-talk-zte-unico

ZTE Unico

Unico Availability

 

straight-talk-alcatel-sonic
Alcatel Sonic

Sonic Availability

 

Phone Dimensions 5.25″ x 2.59″ x 0.43″ 5.25″ x 2.75″ x 0.45″
Screen Size Diagonal: 4.5″ Diagonal: 4.6″
Processor Speed 1.2ghz 1.4ghz
Weight 4.95 oz 5.45 oz
Android Version 4.1.2 Jelly Bean 4.1 Jelly Bean
Technology & Calling Area GSM LTE Activated via AT&T or TMobile (Check your local LTE coverage) 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 8gb Included, supports up to 32gb Not Included, supports up to 32gb
Camera 5 mega pixel/LED flash/Front facing vga
5 mega pixel / LED Flash/front facing VGA
Price $199.99 $179.99

Technology and Calling Area

Today we are comparing two GSM LTE 4g phones. Both of these phones will be activated with either AT&T or Straight Talk. My bet is AT&T.  Note that neither of these phones will work with Verizon or Sprint so you will need AT&T or TMobile LTE coverage in your area to get the 4g LTE speeds. If LTE is not available in your area from either of these carriers, then you will get standard 3g speeds.

Specs

I was pleasantly surprised by the Sonic specs. It’s got a 1.4 ghz dualcore processor to the Unico’s 1.2 ghz unit. The screen size is another element where the Sonic is better. Both of these phones come to you with 5mp cameras, led flash and front facing VGA cameras.

I just felt the Sonic to be a better performer in the specs department. Everything performed quickly and without that annoying hesitation. That’s not to say the Unico is a dog by any means, I just felt the Sonic experience was better. One item of note is that the Sonic does not include a preinstalled SD card so I dock 1 point for that =).

Screen, Audio Quality and Phone Size

Both of these phones are more or less the same physical size. Though the Sonic is a bit wider by 1/4″. That said, the Sonic comes with a larger 4.6″ screen versus the 4.5″ screen found on the Unico. Additionally, I found the display quality to be superior on the Sonic. That is to say, the screen was sharper, brighter and overall more pleasing to watch videos on.

On the Audio Quality, I was quite impressed with the crisp sound coming out of the Sonic. This is attributed to a better speaker placement and larger speaker opening. The Sonic is the hands down winner here.

Design & Build Quality

Build quality is about the same on both of these devices. Both phones are all plastic construction, sorry no Gorilla glass on either of these. Both feel like quality devices, that is to say they don’t feel cheap in any way despite their relatively low price. The Unico does have a metal look design trim going around the phone so it looks better overall. The Sonic on the other hand is all black with semi gloss plastic surrounding the phone. Both have the semi rubberized batter covers.

While the design is pretty much the same on both of these, I felt that speaker placement on the Sonic was much better thus winning extra design points in my book.

Conclusion

If you haven’t noticed, I felt that the Alcatel Sonic was the vastly superior device in this comparison and that’s not because it’s the cheaper of the two. I thought the Sonic outperformed the ZTE in just about all aspects. I will go so far as to say it is the best Straight Talk device I’ve reviewed in the sub $200 category.

Straight Talk Alcatel One Touch Sonic LTE

Specs – Straight Talk Alcatel OneTouch Sonic

straight-talk-alcatel-sonic
Dimensions Height 5.27″ x Width 2.74″ x Thickness .44″
Weight 5.55 Ounces
Form Factor Large Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology GSM 4g LTE Data 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 1.4 ghz Dualcore
SD Card/Internal Storage SD card not included/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Final Jelly Bean version- 4.1
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/front facing camera/LED flash
Screen Size 4.6″ 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 $179.99

About the One Touch Sonic

sonic-4Alcatel has been making feature phones for Straight Talk and Tracfone for years but this is their first  Straight Talk Smartphone introduction.  The one notable item on the Sonic is the HUGE 4.6″ display. This is actually the largest display on a non Samsung Galaxy S Straight Talk to date with a $179.99 price tag to boot.

The other item worth talking about is the fast 4g LTE data speeds. The cool thing here is that it does not cost us any extra as the $45 cards will work on this phone and still get you the LTE data speeds. Now keep in mind that this is prepaid so excessive use is subject to data throttling which means they can either reduce your speed and or amount of data you can use. .

Despite the impressive screen size and LTE, the Onetouch Sonic can be considered more of a mid level device so quality is not quite up to say iPhone or Galaxy S standards. That said, this is a very good phone for the specs and features. I’ll go so far as to say this is probably the best sub $200 Android from Straight Talk right now.

Specs

As I touched on before, this phone has a really large 4.6″ screen that is super bright and crisp. The processor here is a 1.4 ghz Dualcore unit that runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The camera is a 5mp unit with LED Flash and front facing VGA camera. You do get a bit of a bonus by way of FM radio which will work even without a cell phone signal.

Storage is about normal for Straight Talk phones as this one only has 2gb of built but you can expand it up to 32gbs via micro SD cards. One note is that this phone does not include a pre-installed card so you will need to run out and buy one should you desire the extended storage capacity.

Overall, this is an excellent performer for the price and you can’t get a bigger screen without spending Samsung Galaxy S money. The camera isn’t the absolute best I can certainly deal with that considering the price.

Digital Camera

The sonic comes with a 5mp camera which can be viewed as a bit of a drag but lets not kid ourselves, this phone costs 1/2 to 1/3 the price of the big boys. Pictures are excellent in bright light and a bit above average in low light situations. That said, it does have an LED flash. Here are various shots under different lighting conditions. Overall, I was quite pleased with the image quality this low cost phone turned out.

IMG_20140604_171520 IMG_20140604_171431IMG_20140604_173803

Additionally, you get a front facing VGA camera. What’s most impressive are all the camera goodies such as  digital zoom, auto focus ,  nifty camera modes like  Geo Tagging/HDR/Action/Burst/Smile shot/Panorama and more.  If that’s not enough, video quality can be shot as high as a reported 1080p. For the price, I have not seen a better camera on another Straight Talk Android to date at this price point.

sonic-7 sonic-5

Design & Look Feel

Design here is shall we say typical. Looks and feels like your average Android. That is to say, you get the 3 button Android layout with all plastic construction. The capacitive Android buttons light up when you touch them allowing you to see them in the dark. The phone does not have a light sensor though so they do light up even in the day when touched.

sonic-3 sonic-2

The Sonic is void of any metal look trims as it features an all black semi gloss finish around the perimeter of the phone. The battery cover does have a slight rubberized texture to it. If you’re looking for a bit of bling on your phone, then the Sonic might not float your boat but I think you can overlook that because it’s quite good in just about every other aspect that matters.

About the only look feel aspect worth noting is that the screen expands to just about the very top of the phone and did I mention it is quite LARGE. Despite the rather large screen, the phone still maintains some decent dimensions and still fits in the pocket.

Performance

I think performance is where the Sonic really shines. For starters, the screen is super bright and crisp, probably one of the better screens you will find at this price point. Zooming and rotating in apps such as Google Maps are a breeze and does not have that annoying lag that the lesser powerful phones have. Do remember that this has a 1.4ghz dualcore CPU so it will run just about any app on the market.

One item that I was impressed with is the excellent sound quality of this device. The speaker opening is at the top left so it is not in a place where your hand will cover it. Additionally, the speaker opening is fairly large for a phone like this so rest assured this phone is an excellent performer in the multimedia arena.

Final Thoughts

The Alcatel OneTouch Sonic is an excellent phone for the cash. You just about the best specs and features you will find south of $200 bones.  This would be a great phone for multimedia lovers out there.

Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy Ace Style

Specs – Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy Ace Style

straight-talk-galaxy-ace-style
Dimensions Height 4.75″ x Width 2.46″ x Thickness .41″
Weight 4.16 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
SD Card/Internal Storage 2gb built in/Capable of up to 32gb micro SD card
Android OS Jelly Bean version- 4.3
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels
Screen Size 3.5″ 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 TBA

About the Samsung Galaxy Ace Style

The Galaxy Ace style is another entry level compact device. This one is quite similar if not nearly identical to the popular Samsung Centura. In fact, the Ace Style does not really bring anything new to the smartphone table but it is an attractive and reliable device.  While design wise, this one looks just like the Centura, it is an updated device as it brings a newer Android OS and more powerful processor. That said, most everything else remains the same.

Specs

Specs here are quite typical for this type of phone. The processor is of the 1.0 ghz variety which improves on the weak 800mhz unit found in the Centura.  The screen is still compact measuring  3.5″ inches. As mentioned above, this one comes with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.  This phone uses CDMA technology so Straight Talk would activate it with either Verizon or Sprint.

Design Look Feel

One of the things that might make this one popular is the fact that it looks just like their best selling Centura. The button design is even the same though I would say a bit dated for a new phone. This one still comes to us with a physical push button flanked by two capacitive touch buttons. Not much more to mention here because we’ve already seen this phone before.

Final Thoughts

While this phone looks just like the Samsung Centura, specs are much improved over the meager Centura specs. This one brings a more powerful processor and faster Android 4.3. Much of what people like about the Centura remains, namely in the form of a compact body. Conclusion is that the Ace Style is quite a good phone. It may be a bit more pricey than its ZTE counterparts but then again you are paying for the Samsung name.

Comparing The Straight Talk ZTE Unico and ZTE Majesty

Today we compare two very similar phones from Straight Talk, namely the ZTE Majesty and ZTE Unico. This is a good comparison because both are very similarly sized spec’d.  That said, they are different technology phones altogether, particularly when it comes to data speeds because the ZTE Unico is an LTE phone thus providing you with up to 10x data speeds.

Check Straight Talk Availability

straight-talk-zte-unico

ZTE Unico

Unico Availability

 

straight-talk-zte_majesty
ZTE Whirl

Majesty Availability

 

Phone Dimensions 5.22″ x 2.59″ x 0.41″ 5.40″ x 2.60″ x 0.41″
Screen Size Diagonal: 4.5″ Diagonal: 4.5″
Processor Speed 1.2ghz 1.2ghz
Weight 4.8 oz 5.45 oz
Android Version 4.1.2 Jelly Bean 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
Technology & Calling Area GSM LTE Activated via AT&T or TMobile (Check your local LTE coverage) GSM Activated via AT&T or TMobile
Speaker Yes Yes
Headphone Jack 3.5mm (iPod type) 3.5mm (iPod type)
SD card slot 8gb Included, supports up to 32gb 4gb Included, supports up to 32gb
Camera 5 mega pixel/LED flash 5 mega pixel NO LED Flash
Price $199.99 $179.99

Technology and Calling Area

This is the main difference between these two devices. The Unico GSM (AT&T or TMobile) while the Majesty is CDMA (Verizon or Sprint). The other big difference here are the data speeds, the Unico offers 4G LTE data and is currently the only Straight Talk sold phone with this capability at this price range. The other Straight Talk LTE phones are either the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S series which are both 2 to 3 times more expensive as the Unico!

If you aren’t familiar with 4G LTE, this means you will get 5 to 10 times faster data speeds when accessing the internet, videos, etc.  Check your local AT&T LTE coverage before purchasing this phone because LTE is not fully available everywhere. The Unico will behave the same as the Majesty if you do not have LTE coverage in your area so there is no point in spending the extra 20 bucks if the capability is not available in your area.

Screen and Phone Size

These phones are essentially identical in this regard. Both phones have 4.5″ diagonal screens and are basically the same in body size. The Majesty is slightly heavier by about 1/2 an ounce or so.

Design & Build Quality

Again, the design is very similar here. As you can see in the images, the Unico is a bit more square than the Majesty. Both phones are all plastic construction and offer the same quality. I will say that I find the Unico a bit more attractive because the trim around the phone looks a bit better to me.

Conclusion

Both of these phones are essentially the same in all regards. If you’re pondering one or the other, the only thing you need to know is that the Unico gives you significantly faster 4g LTE data speeds.  Please check your local LTE coverage before you go spending the extra 20 bucks because LTE coverage is not all equal. If do not have AT&T LTE coverage, then the Majesty would be a better choice.

Straight Talk ZTE Z930L Unico LTE

Specs – Straight Talk ZTE Unico Availability

straight-talk-zte-unico
Dimensions Height 5.22″ x Width 2.59″ x Thickness .41″
Weight 4.8 Ounces
Form Factor Medium Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology LTE cellular data network and 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
SD Card/Internal Memory Pre-installed 4gb sd card, Up to 32gb microSD compatible
Android OS Jelly Bean – 4.1.2
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels/frong facing camera/LED flash
Screen Size 4.5″ Diagonal
Battery Life 9 days stand by & up to 5 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v2.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $199.99

About the ZTE Unico

straight-talk-moto-gThe ZTE Unico is the first affordable LTE phone from Straight Talk. Expect to pay $199.99 for a new one from either Straighttalk.com or Walmart. The ZTE Unico device is of the GSM variety which means Straight Talk would activate this with either AT&T or TMobile.

The main attraction on this particular ZTE phone is basically the fast LTE internet connectivity at an affordable price.  If you are not that familiar with what this means exactly, it boils down to the internet on this phone will be 5-10 times faster than the typical 3G phone (Most other Straight Talk models). For this convenience, you will pay about $20 more over similar Straight Talk models with similar specs and no LTE.

Be aware that LTE will not improve call quality, dropped calls, etc, LTE will only speed up your internet connection. Other than LTE, there are no new features to be found on this phone that are not offered on lower cost Straight Talk devices.  I would say the ZTE Unico is on par with the ZTE Solar since both are GSM devices.

Check ZTE Unico Availability

Specs

Other than the LTE connectivity, specs are fairly robust to average. In other words, this is not going to have super high end specs. For starters, we find a 1.2ghz processor which is about average for devices these days, though still plenty fast for just about all apps and games you can download. One nice thing is that the phone comes with a 4gb SD card already preinstalled for you.

Screen size is 4.5″ so I would put this in the medium category. It’s not super huge but it isn’t exactly tiny either. I personally like the 4.5″ screen because it’s plenty large for watching movies yet not obnoxious in size so that it doesn’t fit in your pocket. Despite the fairly large screen, the phone still remains relatively compact measuring just 5.25″ high by 2.6″ in width. While I’m on the screen, I will mention that this phone has a very nice and crisp resolution. The user interface looks super clean and smooth, videos also look great.  Another worthy mention is the excellent audio quality on this phone. The speaker is on the back but it sounds great.

zte-unico-1 zte-unico-2

 

About the only weak spec here for an LTE phone is the camera as it only has 5mp of resolution. At this point, I would expect better from a phone of this caliber. I say that because you can find 5mp cameras on other Straight Talk ZTEs that are much cheaper than this. Another item worth mentioning with the camera is that it is a bit slow to take pictures. It takes a few seconds for it to focus and finally snap the shot. I wouldn’t call it a deal breaker, just something to keep in mind. Now on the plus side it has a front facing camera and built in LED flash on the back. The LED flash works really well to turn out decent images when shooting in low light rooms and such. Below are some low light shots taken with the phone to demonstrate. Overall, the image quality on pictures is good.

unico_low_light1 unico_low_light2

Design & Look Feel

As is often the case with these Straight Talk ZTEs, the design is somewhat pedestrian. The phone is all black plastic construction and while it does not have much of a “bling” factor, it does have a nice silver decorative trim that runs the perimeter of the phone. While it is not metal, it looks pretty good and does a decent job simulating it. Moving onto the back, we find a rubberized battery cover with the camera and flash top center. Both the camera and flash look to have a thin metal trim around them.

zte-unico-4zte-unico-7

The layout on this one is pretty much the same as it is on other ZTE models. Just below the screen we find a 3 button capacitive touch layout which is common to all other ZTE Phones currently on the Straight Talk page. The phone has a light sensor at the top which controls the backlight on these buttons. That is, they light up in dim light and not in bright. This is another common feature on many ZTEs.  The remaining items are laid out in a fairly typical manner with the 3.5mm head phone jack top left, power/lock top right, volume upper left and charge port lower right.

zte-unico-5 zte-unico-6

Interfaces

The interfaces on this phone are all very user friendly making them a breeze to use.  The screen responds nicely to touches. There is no lag or hesitation when performing touches.  As with all Androids, this phone supports both vertical and horizontal orientations.

Like most standard Androids, the ZTE Unico comes with 5 homescreens. One cool thing about this one is that you can add more homescreens if you wish so you can organize your icons.At the bottom of the homescreen, you find a place for 4 customizable icons and the center main menu icon. The stock icons consist of the phone dialer, messaging, browser and camera. You can remove and add different icons rather easily.

As far as the texting, browsing and phone interfaces go, all perform great. They are laid out well and are all easy to use. The phone keypad for example is nice and bright with fairly large squares for the numbers. The texting screen is also easy to use with everything you need on the main screen.  The phone comes with the standard Android keyboard. Finally, is the internet browsing, this works well supporting the pinch zoom feature as well as horizontal and vertical orientations.

zte-unico-10  zte-unico-8

Final Thoughts

The Unico is an excellent offering for those who want LTE speeds without spending Samsung Galaxy S money.  This feature will essentially cost you about $20 more than other similarly spec’d Straight Talk devices. Be sure that you have good GSM LTE coverage in your area, either AT&T or TMobile. If you don’t have said coverage or you simply don’t care about internet speeds, then you may be better off with either the ZTE Majesty or ZTE Solar which both have about the same specs for a bit less money.

Anyhow, back to the Unico, Specs are good though not great for an LTE device. What I really like about it, however, is the affordable price tag which under cuts the Galaxy S by more than half. That said, don’t expect the same performance but as with all things in life, this is a bit of a compromise.

Compare the Straight Talk ZTE Valet and the ZTE Whirl

In this comparison, we look at the Straight Talk ZTE Valet and the ZTE Whirl. The Whirl is a GSM phone which means Straight Talk will use either AT&T or TMobile. The Whirl on the other hand, is a CDMA phone. This means, Straight Talk will activate it using either Verizon or Sprint. There are a few other differences between the two that makes the Valet the phone to pick.

Check Straight Talk Availability

straight-talk-zte-whirl-gsm ZTE Valet

Majesty Availability

 

straight-talk-zte-valet-small
ZTE Whirl

Solar Availability

 

Phone Dimensions 4.5″ x 2.5″ x 0.5″ 4.25″ x 2.5″ x 0.5″
Screen Size Diagonal: 3.5″ Diagonal: 3.5″
Processor Speed 1.0ghz 1.0ghz
Weight 4.5 oz 4.25 oz
Android Version 4.1 Jelly Bean 4.1 Jelly Bean
Technology & Calling Area CDMA Activated via Verizon or Sprint GSM Activated via AT&T or TMobile
Speaker Yes Yes
Headphone Jack 3.5mm (iPod type) 3.5mm (iPod type)
SD card slot 4gb Included, supports up to 32gb 4gb Included, supports up to 32gb
Camera 3 mega pixel/LED flash 3 mega pixel NO LED Flash
Price $79.99 $79.99

Technology and Calling Area

The main difference here is the calling area. The Valet would be activated with Verizon or Sprint where. On the flip side, Whirl would be activated with AT&T or TMobile.

Screen and Phone Size

Both of these entry level phones come with a 3.5″ screen measured diagonally. There is a slight difference in dimension and weight as you can see in the table above. The reality of the matter is that both phones are basically the same in this category.

Design & Build Quality

There is no real difference between the design and build quality. Keep on mind that both of these phones are entry level so both come with all plastic construction. This includes a plastic screen. The Whirl gives you a bit more of a rounded shape while the Valet not as much.

Digital Camera

Here is another main difference between the two. The Valet has both a dedicated camera button and LED flash while the Whirl has neither. For some, this main not be a big deal but for others it may.

Conclusion

The ZTE Valet is probably the better value because it comes with an LED flash and dedicated camera button. That said, the main thing to consider here is the calling area. Choose which ever phone is most compatible with where you live. Again, the Valet would be activated with Verizon or Sprint while the Whirl would be activated with either AT&T or TMobile.

Compare the Straight Talk ZTE Majesty and ZTE Solar

Today we compare the Straight Talk ZTE Majesty and the ZTE Solar. This makes for a great comparison because both phones come to us with large 4.5″ screens and very similar specs. The obvious difference between these phones is the fact that they use different calling areas. The Solar is a GSM phone which means Straight Talk will use either AT&T or TMobile. The Majesty on the other hand, is a CDMA phone. This means, Straight Talk will activate it using either Verizon or Sprint. This difference will cost you and extra $10 should your coverage area have better AT&T or TMobile coverage.

Check Straight Talk Availability

ZTE Majesty

Majesty Availability

 

straight-talk-zte-solar-gsm
ZTE Solar

Solar Availability

 

Phone Dimensions 5.4″ x 2.6″ x 0.4″ 5.24″ x 2.6″ x 0.4″
Screen Size Diagonal: 4.5″ Diagonal: 4.5″
Processor Speed 1.2ghz 1.2ghz
Weight 5.45 oz 5.55 oz
Android Version 4.1 Jelly Bean 4.1 Jelly Bean
Technology & Calling Area CDMA Activated via Verizon or Sprint GSM Activated via AT&T or TMobile
Speaker Yes Yes
Headphone Jack 3.5mm (iPod type) 3.5mm (iPod type)
SD card slot 4gb Included, supports up to 32gb 4gb Included, supports up to 32gb
Camera 5 mega pixel/Front facing camera/led flash 5 mega pixel & LED Flash/NO front facing camera
Price $169.99 $179.99

Technology and Calling Area

As I mentioned at the start, this is the main difference between these two phones. As such, the Majesty would be activated with Verizon or Sprint where the Solar would be activated with AT&T or TMobile. This is really the main thing to look at when deciding between these two phones.

Screen and Phone Size

As you can see in the table above, both phones have a 4.5″ screen measured diagonally. The Solar is slightly smaller, at least on paper. In reality, both phones are essentially the same size. Both phones offer super bright and crisp displays that look great when watching videos and the like.

Design & Build Quality

Both phone essentially have the same design and build quality. Both phones come to us with all plastic construction including the screen. You will notice in the images that the Solar is a little more squareish in shape. Both phones have the same button layout. So design wise, there’s really not much of a difference between the two.

Digital Camera

About the only other difference between these two phones is the fact that the Majesty has a front facing camera while the Solar does not.

Conclusion

Both of these phones offer a superb large form factor experience for the price. The deciding factor here boils down to your local coverage area, the $10 difference in price and perhaps the front facing camera should that mean something to you. For the price, you cannot go wrong with either phone.

Straight Talk ZTE Whirl Review

Specs – Straight Talk ZTE Whirl Availability

straight-talk-zte-whirl-gsm
Dimensions Height 4 1/4″ x Width 2 1/2″ x Thickness 1/2″
Weight 4.25Ounces
Form Factor Compact Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology GSM 3g cellular data network and 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 1.0 ghz
SD Card/Internal Memory 2.53gb usable internal memory built in – Pre-installed 4gb sd card, Up to 32gb microSD compatible
Android OS Jelly Bean – 4.1.1
Digital Camera 3 mega pixels no LED flash
Screen Size 3.5″ Diagonal
Battery Life 11 days stand by & up to 8 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons
USB microUSB v2.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price 79.99

About the ZTE Whirl

straight-talk-zte-whirl-gsmThe ZTE Whirl is a compact entry level device priced at $79.99. This is a GSM device so Straight Talk will activate it with either AT&T or TMobile. The Whirl is a fairly basic device without a whole lot of bells and whistles. If you have looked at the Straight Talk website, you may have noticed a similar phone to this, namely the ZTE Valet. The main difference between these two phones is that the Whirl is GSM while the Valet is CDMA. As such, Straight Talk activates these with different carriers.

The main highlights on the Whirl is the compact size. Keep in mind that this is a 3.5″ screen so it is fairly small. This is a good phone for us pocket carriers.  The next highlight is the 1.0 ghz processor which performs great with the Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean OS.

Specs

For an entry level phone, the specs are excellent on the Whirl. As previously mentioned, the spec highlight is the 1.0 ghz processor. Used to be most of these entry level phones were of the 800 mhz variety, many still are, but since ZTE is what you would consider an “off brand”, they have to make things stand out. This phone performs great for the price, streaming services such as Netflix opperate without a hitch. Suffice it to say, the Whirl will run just about any app you can download.

Next is the 3.5″ screen which makes for a compact phone. One item of note here is that the resolution is not the best. Because of the size, it can be a little grainy at times. Another item of mention on the screen is that the top is slightly darker than the rest of the screen. It could be that this is just the case in my example but I kind of doubt it. This is something to keep in mind when thinking about this phone. It doesn’t bother me any as it doesn’t affect anything, videos still look fine but it is there.

My main gripe on the specs is the camera, not so much because if its relatively low 3mp resolution but because the lack of led flash. Not a big deal in and of itself but the Valet which also costs the same does have an led flash and a dedicated camera button. The Whirl does not have said camera button.

Android Jelly Bean OS

Android 4.1.1 on the Whirl is fairly typical for an entry level phone. That is to say, there aren’t a whole lot of extras to be found, other than the regular Android items such as GMail, Google Maps, Navigation and Google Play store.  The phone comes with 5 home screens which are numbered by small round icons just below the main screen.

Performance is quite good as is usual with Jelly Bean. This phone will handle most apps you can throw at it. Peformance from screen to screen is good. That said, you need to wait about 30 secs or so after you reboot it for it to operate smoothly.  You may find it to be a bit slugish just after it reboots but that goes away shortly thereafter.

The Google Play store works flawlessly and is open to you to download any free or paid app. Of course you will need a Google account to do so because the Play app store is not tied to the Straight Talk service which is good because nothing is restricted.

Design & Look Feel

The Whirl is somewhat basic in the look feel department.  As expected, it is all plastic construction in an all black finish. The bezel around the screen has a textured flat black finish to it. There is a shiny black trim going around the perimeter of the phone in between the screen bezel and battery cover. As with the other Straight Talk ZTEs, the Whirl has the 3 capacitive touch buttons just below the screen. The buttons have a light sensor at the top of the phone so they only light up under low/dark light conditions. This helps to preserve battery power somewhat.

The remainder of the phone is straight forward, on the bottom you find the charge port. The left has the volume buttons and the top the headphone jack/power button.  Looking at the back, you find a real basic looking camera and a plastic battery cover. Finally, you will find the micro SD card under the battery. It does have a locking mechanism which you flip down then pull forward to gain access to the card. This is a bit of an annoyance particularly if you change cards often.

Final Thoughts

For the $79.99, the Whirl is not a bad phone. All things being equal as far as cellular coverage in you area goes, I would opt for the ZTE Valet because it has a few extras that the Whirl does not have. That said, the Whirl is probably the best entry level GSM device for Straight Talk. So if you have better AT&T or TMobile coverage, the ZTE Whirl is probably the way to go.