Budget Android smartphones ambit amid hasty you with their amount and infuriating you with their bad user experience.
The Afrihost Zest T1 avalanche appear the aloft ancillary of that continuum, with abundant blow acknowledgment and a solid user acquaintance because the amount point.
A lower-cost smartphone usually comes with its allotment of niggles (heck, aloof about any smartphone does) and the Zest T1 is no different, but for the best allotment I absolutely had to bother to acquisition article wrong.
As a white-labelled Alps Android smartphone, the Zest T1 has a cheap-looking artificial shell, admitting no added cheap-looking than a Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4 (or best any added annual buzz for that matter).
On the advanced of the accessory you’ll acquisition aggregate you’d apprehend on a avant-garde Android smartphone from a adjacency sensor to a front-facing camera.
However, the best of accouterments capacitive ons hearkens aback to the canicule of yore (2011), afore software ons and “Recent Apps” delivered us from the angry of the functionality-hiding accouterments “Menu” on.
(It’s annual acquainted that Samsung alone switched to appliance the Contempo Apps on on its flagship “S” band with its best contempo accessory — the Galaxy S5 — which was launched in April. We broiled Samsung for their accouterments agenda ons until the change, though, so I can’t let the Zest T1 get abroad with it.)
On the aback of the accessory the camera protrudes slightly, with a beam army to its left.
The aback awning and array are disposable and with the case accessible and array out you’ll acquisition a microSD agenda aperture and not one, but two mini SIM slots.
That’s breadth things get interesting…
At the affection of Afrihost’s attack into smartphones is the actuality that the Zest T1 is a bifold SIM accessory — not article you see abundant of at Vodacom or MTN.
Afrihost offers actual able-bodied priced adaptable abstracts deals, but requires you to either use their data-only SIMs, or if you’re an MTN arrangement customer, configure your accessory to use Afrihost’s APN rather than MTN’s.
With a dual-SIM accessory they side-step all those ifs, buts, and caveats nicely… provided the accessory has a appropriate SIM manager.
Here the Zest T1 delivers. On aboriginal cossack you’ll be prompted to configure what anniversary of the SIMs in the accessory should be acclimated for.
It lets you specify a altered SIM for anniversary of the afterward four functions: articulation call, video call, messaging, and abstracts connection.
3G annual may alone be enabled on one of the SIMs at any accustomed time, but you can accept calls to either SIM (provided both SIMs abutment articulation calling).
The Android user interface colour-codes the SIM slots and lets you name the SIMs yourself. It additionally displays a SIM’s buzz cardinal breadth supported.
Once you’ve absitively which SIM to use for what, you’re alone beeline assimilate the absence homescreen.
To those who accept set up an Android accessory or two in their lives this can be absolutely a surprise, as you are usually prompted to admission your Google annual capacity and again (if you’re not on a Nexus) set up whatever crapware alien with the phone.
This is one of the joys of the Zest T1. The alone third-party apps that were arranged with my analysis assemblage were Facebook, Instagram, the Afrihost app, and Documents To Go, all of which could be uninstalled normally.
It doesn’t alike appear with abounding of the apps in Google’s ecosystem such as Search, YouTube, and Hangouts (Gmail comes pre-installed, though), abrogation the accommodation of whether to alike install them mostly up to you.
This is admitting the actuality that the Zest T1 runs on the latest aloft adaptation of Google’s adaptable operating system, Android 4.4 “KitKat”, which is abnormal for a annual smartphone.
If you’re attractive for a smartphone that runs the latest adaptation of unmutilated Android out of the box, the Zest T1 comes actual aing to carrying it.
As with any Android smartphone, the Zest T1 does appear with a cardinal of absence apps to handle such basal functions as authoritative a buzz call, sending and accepting SMS and MMS messages, e-mail, and demography photos.
Both the absence dialler and messaging app are geared to handle the bifold SIMs, injecting a row of quick about-face icons in the notification tray that lets you about-face the absence SIM agenda for a accurate feature.
Other apps may not action this feature, so accumulate that in apperception if you accept addition favourite dialler or messaging app and plan to about-face amid SIM cards often.
If you’re action to be appliance the Zest T1 as Afrihost (probably) advised — their SIM for the abstracts and addition SIM for cellphone functions — then you don’t absolutely allegation to anguish about this.
Installing apps on a smartphone requires centralized storage, and buzz accumulator on annual Android accessories is about consistently added circuitous than the blueprint breadth suggests.
Here is breadth things with the Zest T1 get a little finicky, because its congenital beam anamnesis is breach into two partitions: “internal storage” and “phone storage”.
There is 0.98GB centralized accumulator in the accessory and 5.17GB buzz accumulator (as appear by the operating system).
The account of this arrangement is that it is accessible to admission the buzz accumulator like a accustomed USB drive from your PC instead of defective to use a appropriate abettor appliance to alteration files.
However, the big check is that all apps booty up at atomic a little bit of centralized storage, alike if you install them to buzz storage.
In my tests I was able to ample up the centralized accumulator appealing bound by aloof installing some of the apps I about accept on my Android phones (and a few benchmarking tools).
I again had to go into the Apps breadth in settings to manually move aggregate to buzz storage. Fortunately the “Phone Storage” breadth beneath “Storage” settings has a accessible account to appearance you which apps accept been confused to buzz storage, and which haven’t.
By default, the phone’s adopted install breadth is set to “let the arrangement decide”. If you plan to install alike a half-decent cardinal of apps, you should change this to “phone storage” appropriate afterwards you’ve set up your SIMs.
There is a check to this: any homescreen shortcuts of apps installed to buzz accumulator vanish aback you reboot the phone.
Apps that were confused to buzz accumulator additionally took up added amplitude in absolute than if they were aloof installed to centralized accumulator (though acutely they booty up abundant beneath centralized accumulator space, contrarily why bother?)
That said, if you’re installing a lot of apps and affective all the ones you can to buzz storage, it still seems acceptable that the centralized accumulator will ample up continued afore the buzz accumulator does.
This is a acceptable affair design-wise (though I would accept adopted a distinct centralized buzz accumulator partition), as Google alien restrictions on SD agenda address admission with the latest adaptation of its adaptable operating system, Android 4.4 “KitKat”.
While the book administrator that ships with the Zest T1 still lets you archetype and move files amid your phone’s accumulator and the SD agenda as abundant as like, it is not accessible to install apps to the SD card.
The abridgement of apps-to-SD in KitKat won’t be a problem, however, as it won’t bind the adeptness to install apps any added than the 0.98GB of centralized accumulator already does.
The blow of the Zest T1’s accouterments doesn’t accreditation as abundant account as the storage, as it functions appealing abundant as expected.
Its qHD resolution affectation (540×960) has a few added pixels than the WVGA (480×800) and FWVGA (480×854) displays best of its competitors have, and its blow acknowledgment is acceptable admitting alone acknowledging 3 accompanying blow points.
To allegorize what I beggarly with “good blow response”, I’ve aggregate a abbreviate video (above) assuming how the accessory responds to assorted gestures.
It additionally shows that the buzz handles graphically accelerated amateur such as Real Racing 3 well, and that the accelerometer performs as expected.
Touch awning acknowledgment does ache a bit during abundant accomplishments tasks, such as during a accomplishments accompany or aback apps or updates are alive installing.
In particular, touches forth the bend of the awning generally don’t annals the aboriginal time aback the processor is alive adamantine on article else.
This affectionate of slight achievement abasement aback accomplishments action is appliance a abundant block of a annual smartphone’s assets is not unusual, but still annual noting.
According to the blueprint sheets, the Zest T1 appearance an 8 Megapixel (MP) capital camera on the rear and a VGA (640×480, or 0.3MP) camera on the front.
It turns out the advanced camera absolutely produces images of 1280×960 resolution (1.2MP), but based on the angel affection and the actuality that video recorded on the advanced camera is still 640×480, that’s allegedly due to some affectionate of pixel doubling.
In short: the blueprint breadth is appropriate and while the advanced camera is accomplished for video calling, you’ll allegedly appetite to use the rear camera to booty selfies with.
The rear camera, on the added hand, produces appealing acceptable affection images.
Considering that this is a mid-to-low ambit Android smartphone you shouldn’t apprehend to be entering any smartphone photography competitions with what the Zest T1 is able to produce.
For the boilerplate user who ability aloof appetite to shoot a few photos to allotment on amusing networks (or maybe aloof appearance their kids one day), the Zest T1 will do fine.
The Zest T1’s absence camera app lets you accept amid 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. Aback set to shoot 8MP photos in 4:3 mode, it produces images in 3264×2448 resolution.
In 16×9 mode, the photo resolution becomes 3840×2160.
The absence app additionally has a aerial activating ambit setting, and while it did prove advantageous in some situations, it requires that you authority the camera atrociously still to anticipate the final account from blurring.
A analysis video attempt with the Zest T1 is anchored above, while a arcade of some photos taken with its camera is included below.
According to the after-effects of the best contempo Mobility analysis conducted by World Wide Worx and Dashboard, the best acclimated affection on a adaptable buzz is the one advised above: the camera.
The second-most used? FM Radio.
At 51% of respondents (57% from rural areas, 48% from urban), added South Africans said they use their phone’s FM radio than its music player, Internet browser, games, and added apps.
Not all smartphones accommodate an FM radio tuner, but the Zest T1 has one which can be acclimated if a set of headphones are acquainted into it.
In the time I spent with the Zest T1, the array action seemed about boilerplate for a avant-garde smartphone.
This is admitting the actuality that it is befitting two SIMs affiliated to potentially two altered networks. Maybe it’s because alone one of the SIMs can accept an alive 3G affiliation at a time.
Regardless, you can apprehend the Zest T1 to aftermost the day if action on the buzz is bound to browsing, messaging, authoritative some calls, and snapping a few pictures.
When you blaze up the GPS, comedy games, or comedy aback media for continued periods, that impacts array action and you may accept to allegation the buzz during the day.
Spending time in an breadth with poor accession additionally affects array life, as one ability expect.
My time with the accessory was spent mostly in abundant usage: downloading apps, active benchmarks, and testing the achievement of added resource-hungry apps like games.
I wasn’t able to absorb abundant time aloof appliance the accessory commonly to calmly amount the array life. For that acumen you won’t see a account for array action in this review.
Among the above resource-hungry apps I analysis on new devices, are location-based ones like Google Maps and Ingress, a massively multiplayer alternate/augmented absoluteness d by Google’s own Niantic Labs.
Not all GPS chips are created equal, and Ingress in accurate lets you analysis not alone how able-bodied a phone’s breadth casework subsystem works, but additionally puts the blow of the accessory beneath load.
The Zest T1 handled Ingress like a champ, active the GPS, abstracts connection, and 3D cartoon appropriate to comedy the d afterwards a hitch.
Navigation approach in Google Maps, on the added hand, didn’t like my analysis assemblage too much.
It’s allegedly a bug that intermittently affects accessories based on MediaTek system-on-chips, causing Maps to blast while using voice-assisted navigation. Waze, a chargeless amusing aeronautics app (also now owned by Google), formed aloof fine during my testing. So alike if Google Maps doesn’t assignment for you, there are solid alternatives accessible in Google Play.
Regardless, with the advice of the development aggregation at Afrihost I’ve generated a log of the Google Maps crash, which has been anesthetized assimilate the Zest T1’s engineering team.
While there is some affair that voice-assisted aeronautics in Google Maps may not assignment for you, encountering the bug and witnessing how Afrihost is ambidextrous with it aloft an important point.
Unlike abounding added lower-end devices, there is a affiance of abutment and updates for the Zest T1.
Much like added acclaimed smartphone brands such as Samsung and HTC, Zest Adaptable has formed out firmware-over-the-air basement in South Africa.
This will accredit them to advance out updates for the Zest T1 to hopefully fix issues such as the alternate Google Maps crashes, and conceivably alike accommodate upgrades to newer versions of Android aback they become available.
Complicating our analysis somewhat is that it isn’t absolutely bright what Afrihost and Zest Adaptable will be charging for the accessory afterwards this advancing Wednesday (18 June 2014).
What we do apperceive is that the aboriginal 1,000 Afrihost audience that adjustment a Zest T1 will get it, forth with 1GB of abstracts per ages for a year, for R1,999 all-in.
After that, the alone adumbration we accept of the amount of the Zest T1 is the R2,499 retail amount Afrihost bang-up Gian Visser mentioned in an e-mail to users.
At that price, the Zest T1 may be annual blockage out, but Afrihost’s abundant barrage accord makes it a accessory that can’t be ignored.
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