ZTE Score M (MetroPCS) review: ZTE Score M (MetroPCS)

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MSRP: $99.00

The Good The ZTE Score M's design is sturdy but light. Call quality is decent and the battery is longer lasting.

The Bad The Score M's display has a narrow viewing angle, the processor is sluggish, and it comes with a lot of bloatware.

The Bottom Line Though the ZTE Score M makes satisfying calls, its sluggish processor and network speeds aren’t worth the trouble.

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4.0 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 5
  • Performance 5

Because they are nearly identical devices, our review for the ZTE Score M on MetroPCS’ network heavily borrows from our review of the ZTE Score on Cricket Wireless.

If you think you're having deja vu, you're not. You've seen the ZTE Score M before, but as a Cricket Wireless device (there it didn't have the "M" in its name). When it was on that network, it featured a smaller battery (1,200mAh, compared with 1,500mAh in this one) and Cricket's Muve Music service.

But don't despair, music lovers, as MetroPCS has your back. If you pay an extra $60 a month on top of the $99 no-contract price, you get not only unlimited talk, text, data, and e-mail, but also unlimited song downloads from Rhapsody Music. Otherwise, the phone's specs remain relatively identical, meaning it still has the same set of problems. Despite its decent call and audio quality, I just couldn't get past the glacial processor and lousy display.

Editors' Note: Because they are nearly identical devices, our review for the ZTE Score M on MetroPCS’ network heavily borrows from our review of the ZTE Score on Cricket Wireless.

The ZTE Score M is slightly bigger than the original Score because of the bumped-up battery. The M measures 4.4 inches tall and 2.44 inches wide. At 0.54-inch thick, it has a very sturdy build, but it's a little bulky when slipped into a slim jean pocket. This doesn't mean it's too heavy, in fact it only weights 4.8 ounces, but its thickness is apparent.

The device has a black glossy coating, and the back is made out of a rubberized textured material that gives the handset a sporty feel to it. I personally wasn't a fan of it (I have a thing against clusters of small holes), but it did make the phone easier to grip.

The ZTE Score M’s rubber back provides friction against smooth surfaces.

On its left side, you can charge the device using the Micro-USB port that's protected by an attached door. On top is the sleep/power button and a 3.5mm headphone jack. On the right, there's a volume rocker and below it is a small door for your microSD card slot. The included SD card is 2GB. To get it out, you have to press it so it pops up. This might be difficult for anyone who has short nails or large fingers, but it's not impossible.

Below that slot, there's a dedicated camera button. Hold this down for a few seconds and the camera app will open. This only works if the display is on and your phone is unlocked.

On the back of the handset is the camera lens. At the bottom, there's a small slit for the speaker. You can pop off the backing easily by a little indent on the device's left side, where you'll find a lithium ion battery.

The Score M's 3.5-inch HVGA touch screen displays a resolution of only 320x480 pixels at 165ppi, so don't expect lush graphics. Aside from the heavily pixelated images that I saw from menu items and videos (even the simple outlines of circles in the Settings app was fuzzy), I also thought the screen appeared "streaky." Whether it was my eyes that were the problem, scrolling through my apps became a bit nauseating because of all the fuzzy lines that came across the icons. The display also has a narrow viewing angle. If I tilted the device just a little from any side, it became difficult or nearly impossible to make out what was on the screen.

Below the screen are the four usual menu, home, back, and search buttons that dimly light up whenever you touch them. My biggest problem with the original Score on Cricket's network was that its display was quite unresponsive. I had to push down firmly it in order for it to register my movements. On the MetroPCS unit, however, I found it to be much more sensitive.

The ZTE Score M runs on MetroPCS network and is powered by a 600mHz Qualcomm processor. Both factors don't make it the fastest thing on Earth, but for some of your basic features like making calls, calculating tip, and text messaging, it'll do the trick. Speaking of text, the phone does come preloaded with the Swype typing feature.

As an Android handset, you'll find a lot of standard Google apps such as Google Books, Gmail, Maps with Navigation, Search, Places, Talk, and YouTube. Since this isn't the latest and greatest thing on the market, don't expect the hottest OS, either -- the device ships with Gingerbread.

There are also a handful of MetroPCS apps that some might find useful. And, because they can be uninstalled, you don't have to be stuck with them. These include: Metro's own brand of maps, mail, app market, and Web browsing; M Studio, which stores media files like ringtones; a Wi-Fi hot-spot app called MetroPCS Easy WiFi; Metro411, which searches and locates for nearby businesses and restaurants; an entertainment and media app called MyExtras; and myMetro, which let's you check your account balance and plan.

You'll also find a number of basic task management applications common in most devices, such as a clock with alarm features, a calculator, Bluetooth 2.1, a calendar, text messaging, a voice recorder, and a news and weather app. Uncommon apps include IM and Social, which consolidates all your social networking portals; the mobile media suite known as Pocket Express; and Loopt, which lets you share your location and restaurant check-ins with friends. There is also three Yahoo branded apps: the sports news app, Sportacular, Yahoo Movies, and Answers.

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