ZTE is a little-known brand in the U.S., but the Chinese manufacturer is slowly but surely making its presence felt in the U.S. cell phone market. It kicked off its U.S. debut earlier this year with a couple of entry-level phones, such as the ZTE C88 for MetroPCS, and now it has released a slightly more advanced phone for MetroPCS, the ZTE C79. The C79 is a slender flip phone with multimedia features such as a 1.3-megapixel camera and a music player, but aside from that, there's nothing special about it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though; the C79 is still a solid midrange handset for people who want a simple multimedia phone. The ZTE C79 retails for $159 without a contract.
Aside from the striking red border around the perimeter of the phone, the C79 has a pretty simple flip phone design. Measuring 4 inches long by 2 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick, the C79 is a slim and attractive phone with a glossy black front and a nice soft-touch cover on the back. It's lightweight at only 3.7 ounces, and yet it feels solid.
On the front of the phone is a 1-inch external display that supports 64,000 colors and a 96x64-pixel resolution. It displays the usual date and time information, as well as the battery life and signal strength. Even though it has caller ID, it does not support photo caller ID because the address book doesn't let you add pictures to contacts (More on that in Features). You can't adjust any settings of the external display, and we weren't able to use it as a viewfinder for self-portraits, either.
To the right of the external display are the music player controls, which consist of the two track shuttle keys plus a Play/Pause key arranged in a vertical line. Pressing the Play key prompts the music player to load, and it will start to play a paused song immediately. The music player control keys have a bubblelike tactile feel and are significantly raised above the surface of the phone, which we liked quite a bit.
Rounding out the exterior of the phone, there's a camera lens above the external display, while a volume rocker and dedicated camera key are on the left spine. The right spine is home to a microSD card slot and a charger/headset jack.
Flip open the phone and you'll find a decent 2-inch diagonal display with support for 262,000 colors and 176x220-pixel resolution. We quite liked the bright and vivid display, especially how the colorful certain images appeared. We wish the phone had a more vibrant menu interface, but that's a little nitpicky. You can adjust the screen's backlight time, the clock format, the menu style, plus the size of the dialing font.
Under the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a circular toggle, and middle confirmation key, a dedicated music player key that also doubles as a speakerphone key during a call, a Back key, plus the Talk and End/Power keys. The circular toggle also acts as shortcuts to the Contacts list, the @Metro store, the Messaging menu, and the MetroWeb browser. Underneath the navigation array is the number keypad. With the exception of the circular toggle, we found the keys were a little bit flat to the surface of the phone. The keys had a slightly cheap feel to them as well. That said, there are clear delineations between each key, and they all have a nice give to them when pressed.