Orange San Francisco Android Mobile Phone, also known as the ZTE Blade.
I've had this phone now for about a week and I thought I would offer my views just in case anyone was on the fence about buying this device. My last Android device was the T-Mobile Pulse and it put me off Android a bit as it was very slow at navigating and starting new applications and as the San Francisco is the new budget phone 'to have' I thought I would take a chance and see what you would get for your money these days.
So to kick this off and to get the biggest PRO about this phone is its £99 price tag (not including the £10 top-up you have to purchase). For £99 you get a lot, and i do mean a lot, for your money:
- Android 2.1 Eclair
- 600Mhz Qualcomm MSM7227 Processor
- 512Mb Ram
- 3.2 MP AutoFocus Camera
- 3.5" 800x480 WVGA OLED Capacitive Touchscreen
- 802.11 b and g WIFI
- FM radio
- Digital compass
- Light sensor
- Proximity sensor
What you get in the box:
- The phone itself
- 2Gb MicroSD Card
- 1250Mah Battery
- Micro USB cable
- Hands Free Headset
- UK Plug to USB charger
The look of this phone is on part with most other android handsets out there, grey with silver or chrome highlights, the phone itself has a slightly rubberized feel to it which is a welcome thing as having a glossy backed phone means lots of fingerprints and they arent very comfortable to hold. It certainly feels like a £99 device but it is solid no flexing or creaking.
The front of the San Francisco has the 3.5" OLED Touchscreen and below this the home menu and back button which also serves as LED notification, a small light underneath the key will flash when you have new notifications which brings me to my first niggle with this device is there is no physical navigation button, most android devices have at least an optical trackball or a physical d-pad and this phone has neither so its frustrating when you make a spelling mistake and have to stab your finger around the word till you get the correct place to delete the offending letters.
On the top is the 3.5mm headphone jack and the Power/Sleep Button which brings me to my second niggle about this device is how cheap the power button feels, it wobbles around and sits uneven but this is a relatively minor niggle. On the left hand side is the micro usb port and the right the volume up and down buttons and the speaker, there are no other physical buttons on this phone. On the back is the 3.2MP AF camera which is raised from the back cover.
I'm not going to go into detail on the OS as the first thing I did was unlock the phone then replace the customised Orange ROM with a de-branded 2.1 ROM. For general usage this phone is really snappy I was surprised how quick it was considering my last android device wasn't a pleasant experience. Swiping your finger around the OS is a joy as everything moves fluidly, Apps and Widgets load instantly, 3D apps such as games run well with a hint of low frame rate but games are more than playable I loaded Angry Birds on and it was just as fluid as the iPhone version I had played previous.
My favourite thing about this handset is the OLED screen, quite how they managed to squeeze this much hardware into something so cheap is nothing short of amazing, the 800x480 resolution coupled with the OLED screen makes things very crisp, clear and bright, colours are nicely saturated and you can view the phone from any angle and not get any sort of colour distortion, one thing i found is that in daylight the screen has a blue tint but inside under incandescent lighting the screen can take a reddish tint.
The camera is nothing to write home about, it has adequate performance outdoors in daylight but without a flash of any kind its indoor/dark light performance leaves a lot to be desired.
All in all £99 is a steal and I highly recommend purchasing this phone if you are on the fence or on a budget.