Aio's prepaid, Android 4.1 ZTE Prelude (hands-on)

May 21, 2013 7:26 PM PDT / Updated: May 21, 2013 9:09 PM PDT
ZTE Prelude (Aio Wireless)
The Prelude operates on AT&T's prepaid Aio network, which launched earlier this month. Lynn La/CNET

LAS VEGAS -- In conjunction with the news that AT&T will be launching its own prepaid network called Aio Wireless (which the company actually announced earlier this month), the ZTE Prelude made an appearance at this week's CTIA tech show.

Available for $49.99, the device is a compact, entry-level smartphone that surprisingly runs the more recent Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS.

Design
Measuring in at 4.6 inches tall, 2.4 inches wide, and 0.43 inch thick, the Prelude is small and compact, and weighs 4.4 ounces.

Its design isn't anything to write home about, though I do appreciate the unique detailing of the back plate. The battery door is made out of matte plastic, which fends off fingerprints, and is stylized with gray curvy lines.

The left edge houses a volume rocker, while up top you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack and sleep/power button. The handset also features a 3.5-inch TFT LCD display (with a 320x480-pixel resolution), and three hot keys below it for back, home, and menu.

On the rear, you'll get a 2-megapixel camera (with no flash, unfortunately) that's capable of shooting VGA video, and below that are two slits for the audio speaker.

Features
For such a basic smartphone, I was pleased to see that the Prelude ships with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. In addition to the standard family of Google apps, like Chrome and YouTube, you'll also get Aio-specific apps like My Aio, which lets you check your phone's usage info, and productivity apps like Kingsoft Office.

The handset is powered by a 1GHz single-core processor and a 1,400mAh battery. Additional features include 512MB of RAM, 4GB of ROM, 32GB of expandable memory via a microSD card slot, and Bluetooth 3.0.

ZTE Prelude (Aio Wireless)
The device features a 2-megapixel camera and a stylish battery door. Lynn La/CNET

Outlook
As one of the first few Aio handsets, the ZTE Prelude is a good start for users looking for an affordable handset on the new carrier. The fact that it runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is also noteworthy. However, ZTE has a handful of other, more-high-tech devices that would be even more advantageous to port over to Aio, so let's hope that the Prelude really is just a sign of better things to come.

Check back with CNET for all the news unfolding from this week's CTIA 2013 show.

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Where to Buy

ZTE Prelude (Aio Wireless)

Part Number: Z993 Released: May. 9, 2013

MSRP: $49.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date May. 9, 2013
  • Weight 4.4 oz
  • Technology GSM / WCDMA
  • Service Provider Aio Wireless
  • Diagonal Size 3.5 in
  • Sensor Resolution 2 megapixels
About The Author

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics.