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ZTE Warp Sequent (Boost Mobile) review:

Good performer, but not a great value

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The 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera retains a handful of the same features. However, there's no flash (obviously), panoramic shooting, sharpness meter, white balances, exposure meter, touch focus, or timer.

There are only a few video options with the rear-facing camera. These include a flash, 4X digital zoom, geo-tagging, five white balances, and six recording qualities that range from QVGA to 720p. You can also take photos while recording by tapping on the screen. The front-facing camera has two fewer options, since it doesn't have a white-balance module and a flash. Surprisingly, all six recording qualities are retained.

For a 5-megapixel camera, the photo quality was impressive. In ample outdoor lighting, objects were in focus and well defined, and colors were true to life. This was especially true with whites, which were captured accurately. Indoor photos, though noticeably grainier, looked relatively sharp as well. However, colors came off more muted and there was a lot more digital noise.

ZTE Warp Sequent (indoor)
In this brightly lit indoor shot, colors are muted, but objects are in focus. Lynn La/CNET
ZTE Warp Sequent (outdoor)
Flowers in this outdoor shot are bright, true-to-life, and well defined. Lynn La/CNET
ZTE Warp Sequent (SSI)
Though objects aren't the sharpest in our standard studio shot, the white balance is accurate. James Martin/CNET

Video quality was also perfectly adequate. Audio picked up well, there was little pixelation or rendering, and color contrast was accurate. One thing I did notice, however, was that the camera can be slow at times. I noticed a lot of lag when I tried to rapidly click the shutter, and focusing took some time with both pictures and video recording.

I tested the dual-band (800/1900) ZTE Warp Sequent on Boost Mobile's network in our San Francisco office. Call quality was good and volume was at a reasonable level. I had no dropped calls, audio didn't cut in and out, and I didn't hear any extraneous buzzing or static. Outdoor signal quality was also solid, and I heard my friends' voices clearly and strongly. On the other hand, a few of my friends told me that my voice sounded muffled or stuffy, or that I sounded like I had a slight cold. For the most part, however, I was told I could be heard just fine.

Listen now: ZTE Warp Sequent call quality sample

Using Boost Mobile's 3G network, data speeds were slow, though they were on par with, if not slightly faster than, the LG Venice's times on the same test. On average, the Warp Sequent loaded CNET's mobile site in 28 seconds and our desktop site in 51 seconds. The New York Times mobile site took about 22 seconds, while its desktop version took 35. ESPN's mobile site took 15 seconds, and its full site loaded in 36 seconds. Ookla's Speedtest app showed me an average of 0.41Mbps down and 0.69Mbps up. It took about 10 minutes and 37 seconds to download the 23.32MB game Temple Run.

ZTE Warp Sequent Performance
Average 3G download speed 0.41Mpbs
Average 3G upload speed 0.69Mbps
App download (Temple Run) 22MB in 10 minutes and 37 seconds
CNET mobile site load 28 seconds
CNET desktop site load 51 seconds
Power off and restart time 46 seconds
Camera boot time 2.34 seconds

The handset is powered by a 1.4GHz processor, and during our internal speed tests, it performed a couple of seconds faster than the Venice did. Simple tasks such as opening the camera app (which on average took about 2.34 seconds), transitioning back to the five home screen pages, and scrolling through the app drawer were executed smoothly. On average, it took about 46 seconds to reboot the phone.

Simple games such as Temple Run performed adequately, but when I played Riptide GP, a game that requires even more tilting, it wasn't so great. While it didn't stutter or freeze, the frame rate wasn't very high. Also, the device doesn't have a gyroscope (just an accelerometer) and the reaction time between my moving the Sequent and the response of the video game was off, resulting in my poor little jet skier being thrown from wall to wall.

The device has a reported talk time of 8 hours and during our battery drain test for talk time, it lasted 9 hours. Anecdotally, it had decent battery life. When I finished a 45-minute phone conversation, the battery reserves had drained by about 13 percent. According to FCC radiation standards, the device has a digital SAR rating of 0.764W/kg.

Let's make this clear: the handset has a lot of high points. The Warp Sequent is a promising, reliable device. It's a notable step up for ZTE, which I hope will only continue and progress with phones similar to this.

Unfortunately, ZTE doesn't compete in a vacuum, and there are plenty of handsets available that offer slightly higher specs for a decent amount of money. If you don't mind forking over $50 more, you can get 4G speeds with the HTC Evo Design 4G. The LG Venice has a sleeker build and a better screen, and costs only $20 extra. And if that wasn't convincing enough, the Kyocera Hydro is only $80, runs on Android 4.0 too, and is waterproof. Water. Proof. In general, unless you can get the Sequent for $99 or less, consider another handset.

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