Though Chinese manufacturer ZTE has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years, it still has a small presence in the United States. Its phones are available only at regional carrier MetroPCS, and even then you're limited to relatively low-end models. In the last year, we've reviewed the ZTE C79 and the C88 and we now turn our attention to C78. Sporting a candy-bar design in a unique purple hue (purple phones are in, by the way), the C78 offers mid-range features with decent call quality. At $119, it's on the pricey side, but keep in mind that MetroPCS doesn't require service contracts.
The C78 has a standard, candy-bar design. Apart from a ribbed surface on the rear face and the aforementioned purple color, there's not much you can say about its appearance. At 4.3 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.55 inch thick and weighing 3.5 ounces, it's compact and lightweight, but it has a solid feeling in the hand.
The 2-inch display supports 262,000 colors and 220x176 pixels. Colors were bright, but graphics looked a tad fuzzy. Only the backlight time, the font size, and the clock style are adjustable. The menus are simple and easy to use; you can choose from icon or list styles.
The navigation array is spacious and tactile. There is a four-way toggle and a central OK button, two soft keys, a dedicated speakerphone control (nice!), a back button, and the Talk and End/power keys. The backlit keypad has a similar design. The individual buttons are relatively large and are raised above the surface of the phone. We had no problems dialing or texting quickly. Users with visual impairments may find that the letters on the keys are a bit small, so we suggest giving the C78 a test drive before buying.
The C78's volume rocker sits on the left spine below the 2.5mm headset jack. Over on the right spine you'll find the Mini-USB charger port and a dedicated camera button. The camera lens sits on the top end of the phone's rear side. Take care not to cover it with your finger when snapping pictures.
The C78's phone book holds 500 contacts with room in each entry for four phone numbers, an e-mail address, and notes. You can save contacts to groups and you can pair them with one of 21 polyphonic ringtones. Unfortunately, the C78 does not support photo caller ID.
Basic features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a speakerphone, a calculator, an alarm clock, a calendar, a tip calculator, and a world clock. The C78 also packs in a few higher-end features. Stereo Bluetooth is a big plus, and you'll also find Web-based POP3 e-mail, instant messaging, and a very basic MP3 player.