Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy Ace Style

Specs – Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy Ace Style

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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 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 5 mega pixels
Screen Size 4″ 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 149.99

About the Samsung Galaxy Ace Style

The Galaxy Ace style is newest entry level compact device in the Straight Talk Galaxy family. This one is quite similar if not nearly identical to the popular Samsung Centura in terms of looks but boasts specs that are far superior.  While design wise, this one looks just like the Centura, it is an updated device as it brings a newer Android OS and a much more powerful processor.  While it may look like the Centura, rest assured, this device is light years ahead in terms of specs and performance.

Specs

Specs here are quite typical for what we now expect for a phone at this price range. The processor is of the 1.2 ghz dualcore variety which vastly improves on the weak 800mhz unit found in the Centura.  This makes the phone perform much faster and reliably than the Centura. Another spec item of note is the larger 4.0″ screen.  The screen is one of the main selling points on this phone as far as I’m concerned. The reason for this is the clarity and brightness that makes videos and images look great. While I’m on multimedia, I will say that the sound quality is really good on this phone as the speaker is well placed on the top to the right of the camera. This prevents your hand from fully covering it when holding the phone in either portrait or landscape mode.

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Another item worth talking about is the newer Android 4.3. While not the absolute latest, this is one of the newer Android’s available on Straight Talk, in fact, this is only the second or third phone to be available with this OS.

Finally, we have the 5 mp camera which captures excellent images. In fact, I will say that this one has one of the better cameras of any Straight Talk phone at this price range. I found the images taken by this phone to be extremely clear given it’s only 5mp. While it does not have an LED flash, it takes good low to medium light images. Another thing I liked about the camera was the unique camera interface that has different image modes. The interface is presented in a carousel style where you can swipe through various different modes such as night, action and the like.

One item on the specs that I do not like is the fact that it does not come with an included SD card so you will need to buy one as this phone only has about 2 gb of built in memory with about 1 gb used up by the operating system.  You will for sure need to get at least a 4 gb SD card if you want to use this as your primary music playing device or if you enjoy lots of apps.

As far as cellular technology goes, this phone uses CDMA so Straight Talk would activate it with either Verizon or Sprint. On the downside, this phone is standard 3g so you do not get the faster 4g or LTE data speeds. That said, that is fairly standard on the lower spectrum phones.

Digital Camera

As I touched on previously, I was really impressed with the images coming from this phone’s camera. While it’s only 5mp, the images were clear and crisp void of that cell phone taken picture graininess. I will say that this is probably one of the best image takers in the entry level Straight Talk phone category. Below are some sample images.

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While the camera preformed admirably, I was disappointed by the fact that it doesn’t have an LED flash. Surely Samsung could have sprung for the extra $1 or $2 it costs to install one. This is one item where the ZTEs shine as most of those have built in LEDs. That said, the Ace Style does have a front facing VGA camera for the selfie taking bunch. Anyhow, even though it does not have an LED flash, it does take some excellent low light shots such as the one below. Yes, that is beer!

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One item on the camera that I really dug was the mode interface. While you could say it’s a bit of a gimmick, I really liked the carousel interface it is presented in. While most other phones have a boring mode interface, this one looked really cool and impressed me enough that I thought it worth mentioning. I believe this is a Samsung proprietary thing as I have not seen it on any other Straight Talk phone to date. Here is a shot of the phones screen showing the carousel style mode.

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Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Ace Style really shines in the performance category due to it’s newer Android OS and 1.2 dualcore processor. One of the best places to test performance is on Google Maps and this phone does not disappoint as it handles maps with ease. You can pinch zoom and rotate without any noticeable lag or hesitation. The same can be said with videos as they super smooth and look amazingly near HD quality.

I think this phone will handle just about any Google Play store app with ease. Every app that I tested performed flawlessly and without hesitation. Despite the price, this is no dog!

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 since the middle button is of the push button variety.  While the center button is of the push variety, they did put a bit of chrome trim around it so it doesn’t look terrible. The other Android buttons are of the capacitive touch. The remaining layout elements are located in typical fashion with the volume on the upper left, the iPod type head phone jack on top, the power/lock on the upper right and the charge port on the bottom.


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One of the things I have always liked about the Samsung Galaxy phones is that they look just a bit more sophisticated than their entry level brethren from LG and ZTE. I particularly like the chrome look bezel surrounding the screen. Another design element that I really like is the slate look front face that surrounds the screen. For some reason, this minor element just makes the phone look a bit more expensive than it really is.

As expected, the entire phone is made of plastic, this includes the screen so we do not net to enjoy the benefits of Gorilla glass on this phone. That said, the phone has a substantial feel to it and does not feel cheap.

Perhaps one of the more unique things I found about this phone is the fact that despite the 4″ screen, the phone still feels very compact. Maybe it’s because of the rounded corners and semi rounded back. Suffice it to say it feels much smaller than it really is.

Final Thoughts

While this phone looks just like the Samsung Centura, specs are much improved over the meager Centura specs. This one brings a powerful processor and faster Android 4.3. Much of what people like about the Centura remains, namely in the form of a compact body and good looks.

On the downside, the phone is a bit pricey when compared to other Straight Talk phones in this class. Of course you are paying for the Samsung brand and quality. My conclusion is that the phone is well worth the money as it simply looks and feels better than the cheaper ZTEs and LGs. I think this would make an excellent phone for those who value quality over price.

Straight Talk LG Optimus Fuel

Specs – Straight Talk LG Optimus Fuel

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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

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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.

Straight Talk Alcatel One Touch Sonic LTE

Specs – Straight Talk Alcatel OneTouch Sonic

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ZTE Z930L Unico LTE

Specs – Straight Talk ZTE Unico Availability

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Straight Talk ZTE Whirl Review

Specs – Straight Talk ZTE Whirl Availability

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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.

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.

Straight Talk LG Optimus Dynamic 2 LG L39C

Specs – Straight Talk LG Dynamic 2 Availability

straight-talk-lg-dynamic-2-small
Dimensions Height 4.44″ x Width 2.55″ x Thickness 0.45″
Weight 4.50 Ounces
Form Factor Compact Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology CDMA 3g cellular data network and 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 800 mhz
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
Digital Camera 3 mega pixels
Screen Size 4″ Diagonal
Battery Life 11 days stand by & up to 8 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons, center push button
USB microUSB v2.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price TBA

About the LG Dynamic 2

straight-talk-lg-dynamic-2Today we take a look at the Straight Talk LG Dynamic 2 or part deux as I like to call it. This is an all reworked version of the popular Straight talk Dynamic/Logic phones. The Dynamic 2 comes to us with an all new body design, larger screen and newer Android version.

Visually, the first thing that jumps out at us is the new body design. LG has ditched the very rectangular design for the more traditional oval type cornered design. In fact, they have kind of married the oval with square in that this one looks a bit fatter than the previous versions with all new rounded corners. Another thing that’s new here is a larger screen taking up more real estate. While the original Dynamic was a fine looking phone, it suffered from a rather cramped screen and lots of wasted space on the front. The Dynamic 2 has a more ample 4″ with very little space wasted.

Next on our tour, we find a new button layout. Gone is the physical push button in the middle while revisiting the origial 4 button Android layout. The buttons on the Dynamic deux are all of the capacitive push button variety with backlight of course.

I really like this new layout and ample screen. I also like the fact that the screen now takes up more of the phone’s face. I think they did an excellent job reworking the design here.

Specs

Specs have also been reworked. To start, the screen is now 4″ instead of the 3.2″ found on the original phone. Perhaps the most notable difference here is the much newer Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS which runs circles around the old 2.3 gingerbread os. The Dynamic 2 now performs more like what we would expect on a higher end phone. Next up is the 1 ghz processor which again is an upgrade from the previous 800 mhz job found on the original Dynamic/Logic phone. This processor paired with Android 4.1 leaves the old phone in the dust!

On the camera side all I can say is, the more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s because the Dynamic 2 still retains the good ol’ 3mp camera. So that’s a bit dissapointing there. The same can be said about the CDMA technology since that also stays the same as the previous version. Straight Talk will activate this one with either Verizon or Sprint. As expected, the phones comes with WiFi networking, GPS, motion sensor, MP3 player and all that jazz.

The Android features are about the same but work a whole lot faster. Of course you get Google Play, Google Maps, Navigation, YouTube and all the app downloads your little heart desires.

Final Thoughts

This is an excellent update on a very popular model. Lot’s of new stuff here starting from the overall design of the phone which has done away with the more annoying aspects of the original. I really like this phone because it makes for an excellent compact device that’s easy on the wallet.

Straight Talk ZTE Baker Z795G

Specs – Straight Talk ZTE Baker Availability

straight-talk-lg-ultimate
Dimensions Height 5.51″ x Width 2.63″ x Thickness 0.45″
Weight 4.50 Ounces
Form Factor Large Candybar Touchscreen
Network & Technology GSM 3g 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 1.0 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
Digital Camera 5 mega pixels with LED flash
Screen Size 4.50″ Diagonal
Battery Life 15 days stand by & up to 8 hrs talk
Button Types Capacitive touch buttons, center push button
USB microUSB v2.0
Audio Jack & Charging Standard 3.5mm iPod type / micro usb charge/data
Price $169.99

About the ZTE Baker

straight talk ZTE Baker

The Straight Talk ZTE Baker is an all new large screened Straight Talk phone manufactured by ZTE.  This is an excellent value vs price phone because you get excellent features at a very reasonable price.  Talking points here are the 4.5″ large touch screen, 1.0ghz processor, Android Jelly Bean (4.1) and 5.0 mp camera with led flash. Check ZTE Baker Availability

Now if you are looking at this phone, then it may seem very similar to other ZTEs currently on the Straight Talk website an you would be correct because this phone is essentially the same phone as the ZTE Majesty with one major difference, the Baker is GSM while the Majesty CDMA. What this means to you is that the ZTE Baker would be activated by Straight Talk with either AT&T or TMobile.

Specs

Moving on to the, we find quite impressive  specs on the Baker. I say quite impressive because the Baker is a relatively low cost phone for what you get. This can be attributed to the fact that it made by ZTE which happens to be a Chinese company. This may sound like a bad thing but even the iPhone is made in China so this really is no big deal. In fact, for the money the phone is quite solid. As mentioned at the start, the phone comes with a 1ghz processor which performs very well since it is paired with the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS. The Baker will run just about any app you can throw at it without a sweat. This includes streaming apps like Netflix and HBO Go which both perform flawlessly.

Other specs include a good 5.0 mp camera with led flash. If you are comparing to the Majesty, then be aware that the Baker does not have a front facing camera but is the same resolution. Additionally, the Baker comes to you with a 4gb sd card already installed for a total of about 6gbs or so of usable space.

Android Operating System

Despite the low price, the Baker actually comes with one of the newer Android Operating systems in the form of Jelly Bean. This one is not the latest but for a value phone like this, it’s excellent as these lower end phones typically come to you with much older versions. There are phones out there still being sold with version 2.x for essentially the same price.

As expected, the phone includes the Google Play app store, Google Maps, Navigation, YouTube and more. You can download both paid and free apps at will so long as you have an active Google account.

Final Thoughts

I really like the ZTE Baker because the price is right and performance is great. I also like the fact that Straight Talk can activate it with either AT&T or TMobile. This phone really completes the ZTE lineup in that it brings us the much expansive GSM coverage are to the value ZTE phone lineup.

 

Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy S970G AKA S4 Guide

The Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy S970g, better known as the Galaxy S4, is now available for Straight Talk! This is the pinnacle in the Android world, akin to the iPhone if you will. The phone offers tons of features that are too numerous to mention here and have been covered to death on other sites. Instead, we will focus on the Straight Talk specifics you will need to know prior to purchasing the phone.

Check Straight Talk Galaxy S4 Availability

Cost

The first item of note, is cost. Keep in mind that unlike AT&T or Verizon, Straight Talk does not subsidize phone costs. So the first think you need to know is that the Straight Talk Samsung Galaxy S4 will cost full price.  Now keep in mind that you will be saving approximately $50 a month on the service plan when compared to contract carriers so the up front costs will be offset by the savings in about a year’s time.

Features

Features is what the S4 is all about so don’t worry because all functionality is left intact on the Straight Talk model. In fact, everything on the Straight Talk S4 is the same as any other S4 including AT&T or Verizon.  With the Straight Talk S4, you will still be able to download apps, games, etc via the Google play store just as you would with a regular contract phone.  You will also be able to use Google Maps and Navigation because the phone’s GPS features are fully functional as well. All in all, don’t worry about features not working on Straight Talk because everything on this phone remains intact.

Calling Area & Data

Finally, is the calling area and data. Keep in mind that Straight Talk uses local carriers to activate the S4. This particular S4 is GSM so it will be activated with either TMobile or AT&T and yes, the phone will be capable of LTE data where available.  The phone will require the use of the $45 Straight Talk Unlimited plan. On the downside, Straight Talk has been known to throttle data usage when it becomes excessive in their view. So that is about the only downside here though AT&T does have a 2gb cap anyhow so that’s not too bad. You can also always use WiFi if necessary.

Conclusion

Conclusion, don’t worry about the S4 not living up to its capabilities with Straight Talk because everything on this phone is fully functional including downloading apps, GPS, LTE and more. The price will no doubt be high but will more than offset with the savings from the Straight Talk plan. If you’re budget allows, then the S4 is the phone to get.