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Review: ZTE Force for Sprint

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Mar 27, 2013, 1:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE's Force for Sprint is no farce. See what makes this little Android smartphone a solid pick for the Now Network.

Is It Your Type?

The Sprint Force, made by ZTE, is a low-cost Android smartphone that still manages to offer must-have specs, such as LTE 4G, Android 4.0, and a 4-inch display. If you're a budget-minded buyer, the Force is a tempting smartphone.

Body

The ZTE Force may be a simple phone, but it isn't without its own sense of style. It's a smallish slab that avoids the boring design traps into which so many other phones fall.

First, the Force uses more than one color/shade, without going overboard; it sticks to two: black and shiny metal. There is a really nice metallic band that wraps around the sides and forms the shoulders of the device along the back and top. The metal surface is semi-speckled and really catches the light in an attractive way. It also gives the Force plenty of strength. Metal always makes me happy in any phone design, and it is put to good use here.

In the hand, the Force feels solid. The materials aren't cheap. The glass front, textured battery cover, and metallic sides really help the Force stick in the hand. Thanks to the smaller screen (I can't believe I am referring to a 4-inch screen as small, but that's the reality of today's phone market,) the overall footprint of the Force is small enough that I found it easy to grasp and hold onto. It isn't overly thick, and fits in most pockets easily. The weight is just right, and ZTE did a good job manufacturing the parts and piecing them all together tightly.

 

Body

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

As expected, the front of the Force is made of glass, and mostly display. There's a thin, silver-y earpiece speaker grill above the display, and three capacitive buttons below the display (Back, Home, Menu). The capacitive keys worked well and gave me no trouble. They offer haptic feedback if that's what you want. The Force's display was better than most at showing me nasty finger grime, though; it requires frequent cleaning.

There are four side buttons. The volume buttons are on the left. ZTE skipped the toggle, and chose two separate buttons, instead. They have an excellent profile and offer the perfect amount of travel and feedback. It is quite easy to tell them apart. Surprisingly, there is a two-stage camera button on the right side of the Force. The button has the same shape and feel as the volume buttons, and the two stages are very well defined. ZTE also did a great job with the screen lock button, which is perched on the top edge of the Force. It is positioned perfectly, has a great profile, and amazing travel and feedback. Other phone makers should strive to make lock screen buttons as good as this one.

Ports on the outside are limited to a stereo headphone jack on top and a microUSB port on the side. Neither has a hatch, but both are embedded in the metal framing, which gives them plenty of strength.

The battery cover forms the entire back surface of the Force. It is a cinch to remove, but still clings tightly to the Force's frame. The battery is rather large in terms of length/width, but it is fairly thin front to back. The microSD card can be accessed without removing the battery. The SIM card must be embedded within the device, because it is not accessible at all.

In all, the Force feels like a phone that should cost twice its $49 price point.

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