My journey through the world of super-budget phones considers screen quality, entertainment options and photo taking. Also photo regretting.
It’s to be expected that if you buy a cheap handset, you get a cheap handset. I knew that coming in to budget phone week, but what’s surprised me are the things that have or haven’t mattered as much to me.
Like, for example, the ZTE Open’s low resolution display. It’s only 320×480 at 165ppi, which means it’s super grainy.
The odd thing is that I find this doesn’t massively fuss me. Of course, I’d prefer something far more modern, and it makes images and video suffer a bit, but it’s not entirely unwatchable — just a bit unpleasant.
On the photo side it’s a bit mixed. Firefox OS builds its photo app in HTML5, like everything else on the phone, and while it’s a bit slow, it’s perfectly functional, with a camera shortcut built directly into the lock screen. The only factor of note there is that it absolutely expects you to have already installed a microSD storage card, because it can’t take photos without them. The same is true on the music front if you wanted some tunes while you used the phone.
That’s not bad for a budget phone, but what is bad is the actual camera. The ZTE Open has a 3.2 megapixel rear camera, and it’s not good. It’s very slow to shoot, it’s very hard to take pictures, and I can frankly say that I absolutely hate it.
I’ve been testing it against the other phone in my pocket, an iPhone 5S. Now that is an admittedly unfair test on the face of it, but it makes the contrast all that more stark.
The one upside with a low resolution camera is that individual shots aren’t actually all that large. I’ve shrunk the iPhone5S shots down a little, because I do need some server space for all the words, but have left the ZTE Open shots untouched. Click on each ZTE Open photo to open it full size (if you’re feeling brave).
Here’s a lemonade bottle shot with the iPhone 5S:
And here’s what the ZTE Open managed to make of the same scene
How about a close up mushroom? Again, the iPhone 5S
And here’s the ZTE Open
While I was out getting details on the SFX used in The Wolverine, I stopped at Sydney’s Central Station late at night. Here’s how it looked according to the iPhone 5S
And this is what the ZTE Open saw
It’s actively made me not want to take photos, and that’s not a good thing. I know it’s meant to be very cheap hardware, but I’m not entirely sure it has to be quite this woeful.
What it’s also highlighted to me is how much I’ve grown accustomed to having something capable of taking at least passable pictures on me at all times. That’s very much a sign of the times — a few years back the ZTE Open’s performance might have been passable — and it’s something I’m seriously looking forward to once this week is up.
I wouldn’t say that I’d buy a smartphone purely on the basis of the camera, but it has highlighted to me how much I assume that it’ll work to at least an acceptable level.
Monday:Can I survive on Firefox OS?
Tuesday: Firefox OS and productivity
Wednesday: Can Firefox OS keep me ‘appy?
Thursday: I see what you did there: Screens, cameras and entertainment
Friday: Do we really “need” fast phones?