Itâs usually the case that nabbing a smartphone off-contract requires lots of concessions. Not so with the $199 ZTE Warp 4G. Flaunting a swift 4G LTE data link, a big 4.5-inch screen, and sturdy build quality, this compact Android handset is currently the shrewdest option on Boost Mobileâs network. It certainly makes a heck of a lot more sense than forking over $350 for the privilege of owning a Boost-connected Samsung Galaxy S3. Now factor in the Warp 4Gâs satisfyingly long battery life and relatively unmucked-around-with Android Jelly Bean software, and Iâm sure youâll forgive the phoneâs effective but less-than-stellar processor.
My jaw dropped and eyes popped wide open when I learned of the ZTE Warp 4Gâs low $199 no-contract price. Thatâs because when I scooped the device up and placed it in my hands, it felt good, I mean really good, an emotion rarely conveyed by plastic handsets. Not only does the phone have a sturdy and solid construction that doesnât bend or flex, its textured back is easy to grip and repels grease and fingerprints. As a matter of fact, I prefer its backing to the Samsung Galaxy S3âs slippery back cover; Boost sells the S3 at a steeper $349.99 price.
The Warp 4G may lack the faux-silver accents of Samsungâs newer smartphones, namely theand . Even so, I found the deviceâs all-black color scheme sophisticated if a bit conservative. Dark gray, almost metallic, highlights ring the Warp 4Gâs body and add an extra touch of distinction.
Measuring 5.2 inches tall by 2.6 inches wide and 0.41 inch thick, the Warp 4G is by no means wafer-thin. The Galaxy S3 (5.4x2.8x0.34 inches) is slightly larger, but the Warpâs profile is noticeably thicker. Tipping the scales at 4.7 ounces, however, the Warp 4G has the exact same weight as Samsungâs 2012 superphone.
Above the warp 4Gâs sizable 4.5-inch screen is a 1-megapixel front-facing camera and notification light. Sitting below the display are three backlit capacitive buttons for basic Android control (Back, Home, and Menu) represented by easy-to-comprehend symbols.
Along the phoneâs left edge are two discrete buttons for adjusting volume up and down. Here, too, is a Micro-USB port for both charging the phone and physically connecting to PCs to transfer files. The right side of the device houses a dedicated camera key that engages the Warp 4Gâs imaging system. It will not wake the handset up from sleep, though, to launch the camera app. Up top is the power button plus a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack for plugging in wired headsets.
Fans of battery swapping will appreciate the Warp 4Gâs removable 2,070mAh battery hidden under the phoneâs back cover. Separate slots for SIM cards and microSD memory cards are located here as well.
ZTE, the manufacturer of the Warp 4G, decided to go big in terms of the phoneâs screen size. The device flaunts a large 4.5-inch 720p HD LCD panel (1,280x720 pixels). While this canât measure up to the Samsung Galaxy S3âs bigger 4.8-inch OLED screen in terms of color saturation, contrast, and viewing angles, it boasts the same 720p resolution.
That said, the Warpâs display gets decently bright, and its IPS (in plane switching) LCD technology does an admirable job of showcasing photos with lifelike colors and pleasingly crisp details.
Software and interface
The Warp 4G runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, not the most recent OS iteration from Google, Android version 4.3. In the Warpâs defense, though, none of Boost Mobile's other phones features Android 4.2, let alone 4.3. There's not that much of a difference, either, in terms of features and functionality, between Android 4.1 and Android 4.2. Additionally, the handsetâs software is mostly stock and therefore unadulterated, with a funky skin or unfettered by bloatware. That's always a positive trait in my book.
You have five home screens on the Warp 4G to customize, either by dropping widgets or app shortcuts onto. There are some carrier-branded apps preloaded , such as the Air G youth-targeted social media network, and Boost Zone to access your wireless account or view Boost-suggested applications.
Since the Warp 4G is a genuine Android phone, it links to Googleâs vast ecosystem of software and services. These include all the usual suspects such as Gmail, Google Search, the Google Play digital storefronts for music, video, and books, plus the Chrome mobile browser. The Warp also links to the Google Play store to download apps from its wide selection of third-party software developers.