Review: ZTE Anthem 4G for MetroPCS
The Anthem runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Yes, I know. I want to throttle MetroPCS and ZTE by the neck, too. Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) has been out for a year now. There's very little excuse for this device to ship with Gingerbread. There's no word yet from MetroPCS if this device will ever be updated to Ice Cream Sandwich.
That complaint aside, the Anthem has the exact same user interface experience as found on the Coolpad Quattro 4G, Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G, and other recent smartphones offered by MetroPCS.
Here's what you need to know: There are no lock screen shortcuts. There are five home screen panels that are packed with MetroPCS stuff. You'll have to do a lot of rearranging to make the home screens your own. The main app menu can only be viewed as a grid, but at least you can move the apps around within the grid. Everything in the settings menu is stock Android.
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In terms of customization, the Anthem doesn't offer more than the expected features. You can switch up wallpapers, use your own ringtones, and that type of stuff. The Anthem doesn't offer themes or profiles or any other fancy customization tools.
In terms of processor speed, the Anthem performs fine. I didn't see any problems or blips while using the device. The user interface and overall capabilities of the system software and processor were well matched.
The only thing unique about the Anthem's handling of the phone and contact applications is the ZTE-designed contact widget. It'll fill one of the home screen panels with your assigned "Favorites" all arranged in a nifty little box. The animations are pretty cool, and the widget lets you quickly access this selection of contacts. Everything else about the Anthem's calling and contact features is identical to other Android 2.3 Gingerbread devices.
The Anthem includes the stock Android messaging tools. The only additional tool is the MetroPCS IM and Social application, which acts as a messaging center for Twitter, FaceBook, AIM, Yahoo, and Windows Live. It's OK as far as collecting direct messages and sending responses are concerned, but it doesn't support advanced features, such as sending attachments. You're better off using the native Facebook and Twitter apps (which you have to download yourself) to do those things.
The Gmail, SMS, Google Talk, Google+ and Google+ Messenger apps all work fine.
MetroPCS had the ZTE Anthem 4G on hand at an event in New York City. Here are our initial impressions.
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