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Review: ZTE C88

Form Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  2  

Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

There's no way to mince words about the C88's plain-Jane appearance. Its sense of fashion will not win it any awards. I doubt even the designers from 'Project Runway' could do much to dress it up, despite their genius at using lettuce leaves to make evening gowns. But that doesn't mean it doesn't look good. It's far from ugly. The inky black plastic surfaces were not sculpted in the shape of a Maserati, but the simple lines give it an elegance that means it is comfortable in any environment.

If you think Chinese-made might mean shoddy quality, you'd be sorely mistaken. The C88 is tightly put together. Every aspect of the C88 feels strong, sturdy, well thought out and well made. The hinge was as solid as a rock. There was no play or give at all. The battery cover fit snugly, and was not difficult to remove. All the seams were matched together well and it has that well-machined feel you expect from a finely made automobile (if not the look).

It's been a long time since my hand reacted this positively to the feel of a mobile phone gripped tightly. The C88 just feels nice to hold. There are no edges protruding, no ledges, no lips, just slightly rounded surfaces that are comfy cozy against your skin. Its weight is also balanced. It doesn't feel too heavy or too light (yes, there is such a thing!). The balance and feel of the phone does not change when opened. It's just as comfortable either way.

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Digging your thumb in and popping open the top is a breeze. The seam between the top and bottom halves of the phone isn't so tight that you have to pry it open with your fingernail. Closed or open, your fingers are easily able to find an use the volume rocker and camera key on the left side of the phone. Both buttons had great travel and feedback. My one complaint would be that the camera button is a little on the small side, and oddly placed. A lot of phones put the camera button on the side of the phone, but the C88 is held vertically to take pictures. This would lead you to expect the camera key to be somewhere on the keypad.

Speaking of the keypad. The keys are all generously sized. They are flat and embedded in the surface of the keypad, similar to a RAZR. There is a tic-tac-toe pattern of lines that run up and down, and back and forth to separate the keys a little bit, but it was barely discernible. I hardly noticed the lines as I moved my thumb to and fro across the keypad. Also, the nubs on the "5" key were not large enough to attract attention. Bottom line: it takes a little bit of getting use to, as there are fewer cues to let you know exactly where your thumb is positioned on the keypad. The buttons all have good feedback, though. There's just the right amount of travel and "click" that pushing them is satisfying.

The navigation cluster is pretty much the same. The D-pad is squarish in shape, and is flanked with three buttons to each side. On the left are the soft key, speaker phone key and send key. On the right are the other soft key, back key and end/power key. All of them are large and provide the same level of feedback as the number keys. For some reason, however, I thought the D-pad itself felt a little scrunched on the sides. I had a tendency to accidentally hit the back or speaker phone key, rather than the left or right nav buttons. As I've said before, I might just have fat thumbs.

 
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