The ZTE C88 is middle-of-the-road as far as features go. It doesn't have EV-DO, so you won't find any high-end video or music services, but you do get a few multimedia features as well as the basics. The C88 comes with a 500-entry contacts list, with room in each entry for four numbers, an e-mail address, and notes. You can organize contacts into caller groups and pair them with one of 20 (72-chord) polyphonic ringtones. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, an alarm clock, a calendar, a tip calculator, a world clock, and a voice memo recorder. On the higher end, there's also stereo Bluetooth and a voice-command function. However, do note that you can only use the voice dialing if you already have contacts listed in the phone--we were not able to voice dial a number that wasn't in the phone book, for example.
The music player on the C88 is pretty bare-bones--all you can do is play/pause, mute/unmute, and play it on loop/normal. The C88's camera isn't too advanced either, with a VGA camera instead of a higher quality megapixel. You can take pictures in four resolutions (640x480, 320x240, 176x144, and 160x120), three quality settings, five white-balance presets, and three color effects. Other camera options include a self-timer, three shutter sounds (including a silent option), brightness and contrast settings, plus up to 5x zoom. As far as VGA cameras go, the picture quality wasn't too bad. Images were saturated with color, and colors seemed true to life. That said, the VGA camera resulted in horribly blurry and pixelated photos, and suffered badly under low light conditions. The C88 comes with a healthy 59MB of internal storage, which is good enough for the C88's low multimedia needs.
You can personalize the C88 with a selection of wallpaper and ringtones, many of which are available from MetroPCS's @metro data services portal. The C88 comes with Sudoku, but you can always download more games from @metro, as well.
We tested the dual-mode (CDMA 850/1900) ZTE C88 in San Francisco using the MetroPCS service. Call quality was excellent--callers thought we were calling from a landline, and we too heard them loud and clear. Voices sounded natural with plenty of volume. Speakerphone calls didn't fare so well, though--sound quality was tinny and callers often had to ask us to speak up. We successfully paired the C88 with the Jabra BT8040 Bluetooth headset, and made and answered calls just fine.
As was our experience with the speakerphone, sound quality from the phone's speakers was predictably tinny and hollow, with little to no bass. The sound quality streamed over to the headset was much better, however. The C88 has a rated battery life of 3.3 hours talk time and 5 days standby time. We managed to get a tested talk time of 3 hours and 2 minutes. According to the FCC radiation tests, it has an SAR rating of 1.17 watts per kilogram.