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ZTE F102 review: ZTE F102

The F102 is one of the cheapest 3G phones you can currently buy. Despite its low price tag, it looks classy and offers some unexpected, but welcome, features, such as a microSD card slot. If its battery life were better, it would be a near-perfect budget handset

James Dylan
3 min read

The ZTE F102's main claim to fame is its incredibly low price. Available for just £30 on a pay-as-you-go deal with 3, the F102 is probably the cheapest 3G phone you can currently buy. Despite its low asking price, however, it's got some interesting features than you might not expect at this level.


ZTE F102

The Good

Cheapest 3G phone out there; Skype support; app-switching feature.

The Bad

Small screen; short battery life.

The Bottom Line

Despite its low price tag, the ZTE F102 looks classy and offers some surprisingly useful features, including 3G connectivity. If it weren't for its short battery life, it would be very nearly the ideal budget phone

Cheapskate's delight 
The F102 certainly doesn't look like a budget phone. It has a fairly classy, glossy black finish on both the front and rear, and there are chrome highlights on the central navigation pad, as well as the app-switcher and cancel buttons.

The phone is small too, measuring just 47 by 105 by 12mm. As you'd expect, its chassis is made entirely from plastic, but it actually feels quite well built, and doesn't creak and flex under pressure as much as some budget phones we've seen from big-name brands.

On the top left-hand edge of the phone, you'll find the headphone jack, but you'll need an adaptor if you want to use your own cans. A mini-USB port on the bottom of the phone is used for both charging the handset, and connecting it to a PC so you can transfer photos and music. Surprisingly for such a cheap phone, the handset also has a microSD slot that accepts cards of up to 8GB.

The F102 sports a simple 2-megapixel camera on its glossy black rear

The F102's rear is home to a very basic, 2-megapixel camera that lacks features like a flash or autofocus. Considering the price of the handset, its shots aren't too bad, and colours look fairly vibrant, but you won't see a huge amount of detail.

The phone's menu system is pretty basic too, but it's laid out in an easy-to-follow grid system, so anyone who has used a low-end Sony Ericsson or Nokia handset will feel right at home. By default, there are annoying key tones turned on that make it sound like you're playing Pac-Man when you're rustling through the menus. Mercifully, these can be turned off.

There are some interesting applications pre-installed, including the Skype VoIP software for making cheap calls over the Internet, and Windows Live Messenger. Although the F102 lacks a dedicated YouTube player, you can watch YouTube videos via the phone's impressive browser. 

As with 3's INQ handsets, the phone has an app-switcher button on the front that lets you quickly jump between open apps. This is very handy and something that even the iPhone doesn't have.

Budget blues
The F102's budget price manifests itself in the small, 56mm (2.2-inch) screen. It's an old-fashioned STN display and, as a result, colours tend to look washed-out. It also feels cramped when you're using the browser, but we can't complain too much, given the phone's low price.

The biggest issue with the F102 is its battery life. You'll only get up to 5 hours of talk time, which isn't ideal if you tend to make heavy use of your phone. It's a shame, as the F102's call quality is good and the ear piece is loud.

The ZTE F102 is an impressive handset, given its price. We didn't expect to find features such as a microSD slot, app-switching capability and Skype support on a handset as cheap as this. In fact, it's only really its short battery life that lets it down.

Edited by Charles Kloet