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ZTE Fury (Sprint) review: ZTE Fury (Sprint)

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Additional apps include several basics like an alarm clock, a Web browser, a calculator, a calendar, a world clock feature, a music app other than Google's, a news and weather app, a notepad, a sound recorder, a video player, a voice dialer, and voice search. Otherwise, the handset is pretty light on the bloatware. The only other app is Docs To Go, a Microsoft Office-esque suite that lets you edit or view Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, and other files.

The camera features numerous photo options. Along with flash, geotagging, and autofocus, it has five exposure options ranging from +2 to -2; five picture sizes; three picture quality choices (super fine, fine, and normal); four color effects (none, mono, sepia, and negative); five ISO options (auto, and then a range from 100-800 ISO); five white-balance options (auto, incandescent, daylight, fluorescent, and cloudy); an antibanding feature; five levels of saturation, contrast, and sharpness; three shutter tones; and a timer.

If you want to record video, you can choose from the same four color effects and white-balance options. You can also decide the quality you want (VGA, CIF, QVGA, or QCIF), how your video will encode (MPEG4, H263, H264), how your audio will encode (AMRNB or AAC), and how long your video will be (up to 30 seconds, 10 minutes, or 30 minutes). If you're not sure about any of these options, you can choose "video mail" or "long video" before recording and the device will choose appropriate settings for you.

I tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) ZTE Fury in San Francisco using Sprint's network. Unfortunately, call quality was mediocre. Though voices were audible and I could understand what my friend on the other line was saying, the sound was muffled--as if she were talking underneath a thin sweater or cloth. Putting her on speakerphone yielded similar results. During both scenarios, the volume was fine and quite loud on the maximum level, but it still sounded stifled. On the upside, when I used the phone indoors and outdoors, there was no extraneous buzzing or static.

ZTE Fury call quality sample Listen now:

The camera's photo quality was surprisingly decent, again, given the price of the device. Objects did not appear as bright and vibrant as they were in real life, both in scenes taken indoors and outdoors, but images were quite clear, save for some graininess. However, the autofocus and shutter speed on this camera are slow. After you click to take a photo, you have to hold the Fury still for a couple of seconds. What's more, you can't make the camera focus anywhere but the general center; choosing individual objects to focus on in other areas of the photo is not an option.

In this outside shot, some parts of the background are underexposed, but the foreground is well in focus.

Aside from the washed-out lighting and the underexposure on the left, this indoor shot is decent.

In our standard still life, the white balance was great, but colors did not appear as vibrant as in real life.

Video quality was subpar. The default settings give you 30 seconds maximum to record, and during my shooting time, images were heavily pixelated and blurry. Colors were muted and grainy, as well. Feedback lagged a little, but wasn't too bothersome. Audio pickup, however, was admirable--the low humming of a train or a baby's cry could be distinguished during playback. Since there's no focusing feature, lighting was over the place. Some objects were washed-out while other dark objects were hard to make out.

For the most part, Sprint's 3G network (EV-DO Rev. A) was reliable, and the phone got demoted to 1X only once during my test period. Loading the CNET mobile site took an average of 25 seconds, while loading our full site took 55 seconds. The New York Times' full site took a shorter time on average, clocking in at 33 seconds, and its mobile site took a mere 6 seconds to load. ESPN's mobile site took 11 seconds, and its full site loaded in 21 seconds on average. The 18.34MB game Fruit Ninja took 11 minutes and 52 seconds to install. Ookla's Speedtest app, which is 2.99MB, took a minute and a half to download, and showed me an average of 0.68Mbps down and 0.75Mbps up.

The phone's reported talk time is 7 hours. Although I haven't finished our battery drain tests, anecdotally, battery life is satisfactory. I still had about a third of the available battery power left at the end of the day, after I surfed the Web, played games, and watched YouTube videos. According to FCC radiation tests, the phone has a digital SAR rating of 1.14W/kg.

Although I don't know what's got the ZTE Fury so upset, I doubt it will make anyone angry. The device is cheap as they come, and it doesn't skimp on the specs. Setting aside the disagreeable Sprint ID feature and disappointing call and recording quality, it has a zippy processor, a responsive touch screen, an adequate camera, and all the apps you want without all the ones you don't need. If you're looking for a handset to give to your child, I recommend this. It has a nice amount of features so your kid won't feel duped, and it could be our secret that you bought it for less than you spent on that pair of jeans you're wearing.

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