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Hands-On with the ZTE Score for Cricket

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Oct 12, 2011, 2:59 PM   by Rich Brome

The Score for Cricket is ZTE's first smartphone for the US. If the primary factor in your purchasing decision is price, the Score is hard to beat, coming in at only $150 full retail price, and $90 after instant discount. The next-cheapest smartphones in Cricket's lineup start at $180 before discounts, making the Score one seriously affordable Android phone. Naturally, there are some compromises to achieve such a low price. Read on to find out what we thought as we go hands-on.

The Score is small and light, with a very plastic-y feeling, although the plastic sides and buttons feel high-quality and fit together extremely well. The side buttons look flat and small, but have enough unique shape to them to work well. The dedicated camera key is appreciated.

The front and back of the Score don't... score... as well as the sides. The surfaces are cheap, glossy plastic that attracts glare and fingerprints (and probably scratches) like crazy. It doesn't have a look of quality out of the box, and gets much worse with use.

The display is what you'd expect from the cheapest Android phone on the market. It has a washed-out, blue look to it and poor viewing angles. Naturally it's also quite low-resolution. It works, but that's the best you an say about it.

 

ZTE Score

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Cricket's headline feature for this phone is Muve, their unlimited music service. It's there and it works, and it's quite a significant differentiator, especially compared to Boost and Virgin Android phones, which come with almost zero carrier software.

 

Score Interface

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The rest of the software is mostly stock Android. ZTE has added some visual pizazz to the home screen, but it only seems to be skin-deep. One really odd interface issue we noticed is that the camera controls are located almost in the center of the viewfinder, instead of the side where they belong. It's not clear if that's a bug, but since they Score is already on store shelves, we can't chalk it up to a pre-release issue. The camera is still usable; the icons are just really annoying.

But again, if you want Android and you're on a serious budget, this may be your phone. Just check current discounts to see what might be on sale that week. For example, the Kyocera Zio is currently discounted down to the same $90 street price as the Score, and offers a dramatically better display.

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