When choosing a cell phone, you look at price and features with the former being the biggest player, right? Ok, calling/data plans are also a big deal, but most consumers just want a cheap phone regardless. That much we can agree on. But what happens when you don’t want to deal with one of the larger carriers and you’ve got MetroPCS in the area, a carrier that offers unlimited plans?
Since MetroPCS offers unlimited plans with no contracts, it basically boils down to the device. They’re not subsidized so you won’t be getting anything for free. So now what? Well, you can always go for one of the big players like Samsung or Motorola, but a little known company out of China has quietly infiltrated the US market with a relatively feature-rich clamshell. ZTE’s C88 isn’t necessarily the prettiest thing to look at, but its feature set is pretty decent. It includes Bluetooth, IM, a VGA camera, an MP3 player, Web browser and a few other things.
But is it any good?
Call quality is perfect. I didn’t have any issues and others I phoned didn’t know I was on a cell phone. And most of my calls were roaming so I’m sure it’s even better, if that’s possible, in MetroPCS areas. I can’t vouch for most of the other features as it’s limited because of roaming, but I don’t see them being terribly great or bad, for the most part. The hardware seems pretty solid and the OS is fairly snappy. For a basic handset with some decent features, the C88 performs well.
To be perfectly honest, there isn’t a whole lot about the phone that I don’t like other than its looks. It looks like your typical no-frills clamshell, but it does what it’s meant to do well, so I guess I can get past its looks. I’d say its other downfall is that it’s on MetroPCS. Once you go out of the area, you’re pretty much screwed because anything involving data goes out the door. But then again, if your carrier is MetroPCS then you may not leave the immediate vicinity all that often.
The C88 retails for $139 and that may seem like a lot, but you have to consider that MetroPCS plans are cheap and you have no contracts to sign, either. That is, in and of itself, worth it. It fits in well as a mid-tier device and chances are I’d go with it if I were in the market for a phone on MetroPCS. I’m sure as heck not going to fork over $179 for a Moto SLVR, which is the next phone in the line-up and the UTStarcom 1450M basically has the same features but it’s a candybar shape and is only $10 cheaper. ZTE positioned this phone well for the limited market within which it finds itself. I’m curious to see what else they bring to the market and if their devices will hit major carriers.