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Review: ZTE Salute

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The ZTE Salute is a compact vertical slider. It is made from smooth plastics that feel good in the hand. It is a little weighty, but the ounces ought to make most users more confident in the phone's build quality. It is narrow enough that I was able to close my fist around it. That's a rare quality in phones these days. The edges are all rounded, with smooth corners making the Salute a pleasure to use. It easily slides in and out of pockets. It may be a little vanilla when it comes to looks, but the black and silver selections give it just the right amount of conservative coloration.

The Salute has a fairly typical set of controls for its form factor. The D-pad, which is about the size of a nickel, is tucked close to the bottom edge of the Salute (when closed). It has a perfectly-sized ridge that makes it easy to find and use with your thumb. The travel and feedback was excellent.

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The send and end keys are flush with the surface of the surface of the Salute, but their size and proximity to the D-pad makes finding and using them a breeze. The two soft keys are large triangles that stand out starkly from the surface of the Salute. Despite being easy to find, I felt the triangular buttons a bit uncomfortable to use, as my fingers often ended up on the points. Rounder buttons would have been nicer. A large "clear" button is located beneath the D-pad. It also doubles as a mute button, something you don't see on phones too often.

The volume toggle is placed on the left edge of the Salute. It is a bit too flush with the surface for my tastes, making it somewhat difficult to find in a hurry. It doesn't help that a small button for the speakerphone is placed right next to the "down" volume control. It is easy to accidentally turn on the speakerphone when you intend to lower the volume. The travel and feedback of these three buttons is minimal. Below them is the hatch covering the microUSB port. The hatch is fairly difficult to open. I had to resort to using whatever was nearby (pen, pocket knife, etc.) to pry it open.

A 2.5mm headset jack is placed on the right edge of the Salute. It's a shame that ZTE didn't opt for a 3.5mm headset jack. The 2.5mm jack means users will need to use special headphones or an adapter to use most music headphones. There is a dedicated camera button on the right side, as well. It is much easier to find and use than those on the left side of the Salute. It has excellent travel and feedback.

The slider mechanism feels solid and strong. The Salute snaps open with a spring-assisted "thock" and has zero wobbly, side-to-side play.

I honestly can't remember the last time I reviewed a phone with a regular, 12-key dial pad. The Salute's dial pad is average. It lacks a fancy layout or colors, but the keys are large, well-shaped, and have good travel and feedback. Dialing or texting in the Salute with your eyes closed won't be a problem.

The Salute doesn't have a microSD memory card slot, which must disappoint the media lovers out there.

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