Hands-On: New Cricket Phones
Phone Scoop spends some time with the ZTE Engage and the Alcatel Authority, two new Android phones headed to Cricket in the coming weeks.
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The ZTE Engage is set to shake things up at Cricket Wireless. For a smartphone sold by Cricket, it packs a lot of punch. It's a slab-style smartphone that surprises with a good display and solid software.
The Engage, which will be announced more officially in early October, runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It's a bar-style touch phone that has a wee bit of personality. Looking at the device, it has crimped corners that round out what would otherwise be a boring rectangle. It's a black device, but uses different materials for the back and side edges that give it a two-tone look.
The Engage isn't going to win any awards for being thin. It's a somewhat thick device, but is surprisingly light. The plastics aren't top notch, either, be we were warned by the Cricket staff that that the devices on hand were preproduction units. The build quality could definitely be better, but for now we'll chalk that up to the preproduction units we saw. Despite the thickness, the Engage was comfortable to hold and use, and didn't feel unbalanced.
The display measures 4 inches and crams in 800 x 480 pixels. This combination of size and pixel density works out well for the Engage, as the screen looks very nice. It's not HD, but on-screen elements looked clean and free of any gross and obvious pixels.
The controls on the outer edge of the device were no problem to use. The volume toggle on the left and lock button on the top worked as intended.
The Engage is powered by a single-core 1.4GHz processor. Android 4.0 didn't seem to cause it any trouble. The demo device has a speedy user interface, and I didn't see the device slow down for any reason. It appears to be running a mostly stock version of Ice Cream Sandwich, and I didn't notice any odd software programs with the exception of Cricket's MuveMusic.
Perhaps the Engage's most appealing feature will be the camera. It has an 8-megapixel shooter. The software controlling the camera worked well, but we were unable to sample any results. If ZTE can get this feature right, it could have a hit on its hands.