Straight Talk ZTE Solar

Specs – Straight Talk ZTE Solar Availability

straight-talk-zte-solar-gsm
Dimensions Height 5 1/4″ x Width 2 1/2″ x Thickness 3/8″
Weight 5.55 Ounces
Form Factor Large 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 1.2 ghz Dual Core
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 – 4.1.2
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels with LED flash
Screen Size 4.5″ 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 $179.99

About the ZTE Solar

straight-talk-zte-solar-gsmThe ZTE Solar is the premier ZTE device currently available from Straight Talk running the Android Jelly Bean OS. Don’t get me wrong, this is no Galaxy S4 or anything but for the price, this is an excellent phone.  If you’re pondering the difference between this one and the Majesty, the answer boils down to the coverage area. The Solar will use GSM which is AT&T or TMobile while the Majesty uses CDMA which is Verizon or Sprint.  Since Straight Talk uses regular contract carriers, this means that Straight Talk will activate it with the GSM carriers mentioned above. As always with the Straight Talk Androids, you will need to use the $45 unlimited card.

There are two main points here, first is the powerful 1.2 ghz processor. This processor makes the Solar the most powerful of the ZTE bunch. Next, is the large 4 1/2″ screen which again is the largest of the ZTE Straight Talk phones along with the ZTE Majesty. There’s probably no need to mention this because you probably already know it but the Solar has built in WiFi and GPS capabilities for use with Google Maps and Navigation. So if you’re into larged screen devices this one might be the one for your..

Specs

ZTE is really stepping their efforts in the spec department. At least for their set of Straight Talk phones that is. As mentioned, the Solar has a class leading (in the ZTE straight talk bunch) 1.2 ghz processor. Considering this phone costs a tad under 200 bucks, this is quite noteworthy. Keep in mind that it has Android Jelly Bean so the speed on this one rocks! Everything is silky smooth including videos and apps.

Next of course is the large 4.5″ screen which is clear , bright and very crisp. This is always a plus on these larger screened phones when compared to their smaller cousins. Now the screen is plastic but that’s ok considering the price.  The screen is plenty large in that it gives you a great multi media experience when watching Youtube and the like. That said, this is by no means a compact phone as it is rather large. It measures over 5″ in height so it might be challenge storing this one in your pocket. On the plus side, it is fairly slim, coming in under 3/8″.

The camera on the Solar is average for a smartphone these days as it comes to us with a 5mp camera. That said, it does have an led flash. If for some reason, you need a front facing camera, then you might want to check out the ZTE Majesty because the Solar does not have one. Pics aren’t the absolute best but they are as good as any other phone in this price group.

Android Jelly Bean OS

The Android OS here is standard. That is to say, everything we expect from it is there. Namely, the Play store, Navigation, Google Maps and Youtube to name the most notable ones. There aren’t any extras on this phone such as FM Radio which is not a huge deal in my book. The phone comes with 5 home screens and each has a little round icon just below it with it’s number, that is the little 3 you see on the phone pic. I haven’t seen this on any other Straight Talk Android to date so I find it kind of neat. In case you’re wondering, the Majesty does not have these little numbers marking each screen.

Performance here is excellent. I found it to be very smooth while navigating each screen. I was pleasantly surprised to see the crispness in video quality on the Youtube app.  Overall, I was very impressed with the Android performance. The Solar feels and acts like a much more expensive phone than it actually is.

Design & Look Feel

The Solar does not really bring anything to the design table. In fact, the design is pretty much the same as every other ZTE Straight Talk phone. This means that you get the 3 capacitive button layout just below the screen. Again, like the other new ZTEs the buttons are back lit and it does have a light sensor for a tad bit of battery savings.  A quick tour around the phone, we find the volume button on the left, the power/lock & 3.5mm head phone jack on the top. The charge port is on the bottom.  On the back, we find the camera with LED flash note that the Solar does not have a front facing camera.  It is always strange to see why they decide to put one feature on a phone then not a similar one costing the same.

Construction wise, the phone is all plastic including the screen. There is a  black bezel around the screen and a rubberized feel battery cover which is easy to take off and reveals the SD card port and yes, this one comes with an included 4gb card for your convenience. One design element that makes the Solar stand out from the Majesty is the silver metal look trim that goes around entire phone in between the screen bezel and battery cover. This gives the phone a more sophisticated look than the Majesty in my opinion.

Final Thoughts

For the sub $200 price, you really can’t do much better than the ZTE Solar. It’s got plenty of horsepower to keep even the most demanding user satiated. The ZTE class leading 1.2 ghz processor is a real plus and performs great with the Jelly Bean OS. If  a high powered budget phone is what you seek, then the ZTE Solar is probably the ticket. I would pick it over the Majesty if the CDMA and GSM coverage areas are the same in your area.