ZTE Kis

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/ Updated: 29 February 2012 5:28 pm GMT

We're going phone crazy with all the new handsets over at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This time, it's the turn of ZTE's Kis -- a stripped-down smart phone that dispenses with the bells and whistles.

Hopefully it will come with a dirt-cheap price tag. There's no word on what this will be yet, or on its availability in the UK, but I'll update you as soon as I hear more.

I've gone hands-on with the new phone at ZTE's stand, so stay tuned for a full review soon. 

Design

The most striking aspect of the Kis is its metallic shell that runs around the edge. I don't think it actually is metal -- because it's expensive and doesn't normally get used on budget handsets -- but you woudn't know it from a distance. The edging is slightly thicker at the top and considerably chunkier at the bottom, making it look rather like a smaller phone that's been put into one of those fat battery-extending cases.

The Kis isn't going to win 'prettiest phone of Mobile World Congress', but its slightly unusual design is inoffensive enough and will likely win a few hearts. Around the back is an expanse of plain black plastic, punctuated by the 3.2-megapixel camera. There's no flash on this guy, so if you're expecting to take some snaps with your new phone, you'd better find a well-lit spot.

ZTE Kis camera
You'll find a 3.2-megapixel snapper on the back, but there's no flash.

It's roughly 10mm thick -- I didn't have the exact measurents to hand. That's by no means fat, but it isn't pushing the super-skinny limits of phones like the Huawei Ascend P1S, which is almost thin enough to slice veg. While it may look as though it's been hewn out of metal, it doesn't feel heavy and it sits quite comfortably in your hand.

Screen

The screen is a 3.5-inch affair, sporting a resolution of 480x320 pixels. Sadly, that's really not a lot, even for a budget phone. It resulted in icons looking a little too soft for my liking.

While it will just about manage to display your Facebook page or Twitter feed, it's not going to suit those of you who like to browse the web a lot. A smaller resolution means that it shows less of a web page at once, so you need to do a lot of swiping about in order to read everything.

It's reasonably bright and handles colours about as well as we'd expect for a phone of this level. It won't become your mobile media buddy, but it's adequate for a spot of YouTube or displaying the latest games you found on Android Market.

ZTE Kis screen
The screen resolution is not great, which makes icons look a little soft.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread

Getting to the bottom of which operating system the Kis is running caused me a headache at Mobile World Congress. The information attached to the phone at ZTE's stand stated that it was running Ice Cream Sandwich -- a claim backed up by the assistant, who swore blindly that it was accurate. Then I showed him the settings that list the phone's OS, which listed an earlier version of Google's Android OS, Gingerbread .

He then explained that ZTE intends to update the phone to the latest version of Android. As we all know, waiting for an Android update can be an excruciating process that may or may not ever happen. I'd be surprised if ZTE spent much of its money on creating and pushing out an update any time soon for such a budget model. Either way, it's really not on to be advertising a phone as having the latest kit on the basis that it might be updated at some point.

Still, Gingerbread is by far the most popular Android OS yet, and I personally think it's the better choice for phones that don't pack the burly processors that you'd find in phones like the LG Optimus 4X HD or the new Huawei D Quad.

You get the usual multiple home screens to fill up with apps and widgets. Naturally, you get access to the Android app market, so you can join the thronging masses hurling birds at pigs in the infamous Angry Birds.

ZTE Kis Android
Is it running on Android Ice Cream Sandwich or Gingerbread? ZTE fudged the issue when I asked.

Inside is an 800MHz processor, which isn't going to produce the sort of power to write home about, but it's about what I'd expect on a phone of this level. Operation wasn't a totally smooth process, with some jerky transitions between home screens and varying amounts of delay evident when opening apps. But it was about on a par with what I've seen from phones like the HTC Explorer and Orange San Francisco 2 .

Outlook

The ZTE Kis may not have the greatest screen or the most powerful processor, but it seems to offer a generally acceptable performance and a design that's likely to appeal to at least a few of you.

If you're looking for a cheap entry into the smart phone world, the ZTE Kis might be worth a look. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review soon.

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ZTE Kis

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