ZTE Avid 4G (MetroPCS) review: Despite LTE, speed and call quality disappoint

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MSRP: $149.00

The Good The ZTE Avid 4G has LTE connectivity, runs on Android 4.0, and requires no contract.

The Bad The Avid 4G's display can be unresponsive and it has a noticeably blue tint; call quality is mediocre; and the phone's processor is slow.

The Bottom Line Though the Avid features Ice Cream Sandwich and operates on MetroPCS 4G network, the carrier has other LTE devices that are faster, smoother, and sometimes, even cheaper.

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6.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

Despite its rather enthusiastic and optimistic name, the ZTE Avid 4G isn't a phone to write home about.

Other than simultaneously featuring Android 4.0 and LTE, this mid-range device doesn't have much else. In addition to its bland construction and low-resolution screen (which takes a few hard presses to register), its processor falls on the slow side and its call quality failed to impress.

Furthermore, while its $149 price tag falls right about in the center of MetroPCS Android lineup, the carrier has a handful of other LTE handsets that can give you a smoother, faster experience. Even better, some of these phones sport a smaller price .

With its uninspiring, black-slab aesthetic, you won't turn any heads with the ZTE Avid 4G. Its sharply rounded top corners and curved, tapered bottom edge make it look like it's half the ZTE Score M and half the Anthem 4G. It measures 4.88 inches tall and 2.58 inches wide, and it has a trim, 0.47-inch profile. At 5.25 ounces, it is a bit on the heavy side, but it fits comfortably in front jean pockets, and you can maneuver it easily with just one hand.

On the left are a Micro-USB port and a silver, easy-to-press volume rocker. Up top are a power/sleep button and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The back houses a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash. To the right of it are two small slits for the output speaker. In the lower right-hand corner is an indent you can use to pry off the backplate. Inside, you'll get ahold of the 1,730mAh battery and expandable microSD card slot. The plate is made out of a lightweight plastic coated in a matte finish that limits the visibility of fingerprint smudges.

ZTE Avid 4G
The Avid 4G has a 4-inch TFT display with a 480x800-pixel resolution. Josh Miller/CNET

The 4-inch TFT display has a 480x800-pixel resolution. While text and icons rendered clearly, there were a few unfortunate things I noticed with the screen. First, there was an odd blue hue that overlaid the entire glass, and it was really obvious if you viewed a white image. Second, the display itself looked very speckly, and it was riddled with subtle but visible splotchy markings. Gradient patterns also looked streaky and the display had a narrow viewing angle.

Above the screen is VGA front-facing camera and an LED notification light. Below are three hot keys (back, home, and menu) that light up whenever they're activated.

Software and features
As previously mentioned, the device is MetroPCS' only ZTE handset running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. As such, it has the Google apps you come to expect: Chrome, Gmail, Plus, Latitude, Local, Maps with Navigation, Messenger, Search, Talk, and YouTube. There's also Google Play Books, Magazines, Movies and TV, Music, and Store.

Other apps include Yahoo answers, a media sharing app called Full Share, Facebook, a mobile office suite known as Kingsoft Office, and a media portal called Pocket Express.

The phone also comes preloaded with Rhapsody's music subscription service. For an extra $5 a month, on top of a $60-a-month unlimited talk, text, data, and e-mail plan, you can search and download thousands of albums and artists on major U.S. record labels. Despite the fact that you can't play songs offline unless you add it onto a playlist, the service is intuitive and easy to use.

ZTE Avid 4G
The Avid 4G has a 5-megapixel camera and a front-facing VGA camera. Josh Miller/CNET

There's a handful of MetroPCS apps as well, including M Studio, which stores media files like ringtones; the carrier's native app store; MetroPCS Easy Wi-Fi; Metro411, which searches and locates for nearby businesses and restaurants; an entertainment and media app called MyExtras; Metro Block-it, which allows you to block calls and texts from unwanted persons; a 4G mobile hot spot app; the device locator called Total Protection; and MyMetro, which lets you check your account balance and plan.

Simple task managing apps include a clock with alarm functions, a calculator, a calendar, a native e-mail client, a news and weather app, a notepad, a timer, a voice dialer, and a world clock.

Camera and video
The 5-megapixel camera includes a 4x digital zoom, geotagging, a flash, a timer, and compositional grid lines. There's also panoramic shooting, four color effects, auto and touch focuses, five white balances, an exposure range (-2 to +2), a brightness meter, and four photo sizes (1 megapixel to 5 megapixels).

Video options include the same flash, geotagging, white balances, zoom, and color effects. You also get a few time-lapse options, five video sizes (from 352x288 to 1,280x720), a timer, and the ability to take photos while recording video.

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