Cricket Wireless announced the newest device to its 4G LTE lineup today, a 4.5-inch handset known as the ZTE Source. The phone will be available on Sunday, October 20, for $219.99 in retail stores and online.
The Source measures 5.31 inches tall, 2.64 inches wide, and 0.4 inch thick. Though the build quality was solid, at 5 ounces, the device did feel a bit dense and heavy.
And while its design certainly is no sea change (in fact it looks rather similar to the Virgin Mobile Awe, also by ZTE), I did like its black matte battery door cover since it fends off fingerprints easily.
The 4.5-inch TFT display has a 480x854-pixel resolution and 218ppi. During my brief time with it, the screen appeared to be responsive, and icons and text looked crisp. However, when cranked up to maximum brightness, I thought the screen could stand to be a bit brighter.
On the left edge are a Micro-USB port and volume rocker. Up top is a 3.5mm headphone jack and the right edge houses a sleep/power button. Located on the back are the rear-facing camera lens and flash.
Using a small indentation on the bottom left corner, you can pry off the battery door to access the microSD card slot (which is expandable up to 32GB), and the removable 2,070mAh battery. The battery has a reported talk-time of 15.2 hours and a standby time of about 10 days.
Features and core components
The device runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and features ZTE's user interface called "MiFavor." Although I prefer a more pure, minimalistic version of Android (which has been featured in previous ZTE handsets), the UI is intuitive and features clean icons that are easy on the eyes.
Powering the smartphone is a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor. From what I gleaned during my hands-on time with it, the Source operates smoothly enough. Swiping through the home page, opening up the lock screen, and navigating into the app drawer were all executed smoothly.
On the back is a 5-megapixel camera with a F2.8 aperture lens that's capable of shooting 720p HD video. Above the display you'll find a 1-megapixel camera. Unfortunately, while the rear-facing camera has autofocus capabilities, the front-facing camera only has a fixed-focus lens.
As a Cricket device, the Source will have Muve Music a music subscription service from the carrier. Now in its fourth iteration and with two million subscribers under its belt, the service enables users to access and play thousands of songs and albums offline.
Additional features include 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, and Bluetooth 4.0.
At around $220, the ZTE Source is one of the carrier's cheapest 4G LTE handsets. Other devices around that price point, for example, include the Samsung Galaxy Admire 2 at $249.99 and the HTC One SV at $279.99. Although those manufacturers have a history of making smoother and more reliable smartphones compared to ZTE, the Source will be able to fill that niche for Cricket customers who are looking for a fast Web experience on a budget.
Of course, we won't officially pass judgment until we spend more time with the device, so be sure to check back with CNET once we get our hands on a full review unit.