Boost's best off-contract buy

Phones
Hi, guys. This is Brian Bennett for CNET. And right now, we're taking a first look at the ZTE Warp 4G from Boost Mobile available now for a very affordable off-contract price of $199. The Warp 4G is a very good deal. In fact, I think it's the best mid-range bargain on Boost right now, better than the 299 LG Optimus F7 and certainly a more shrewd buy than the ridiculously high priced $349 Samsung Galaxy S3. Let me be clear though, the ZTE Warp 4G is not the fastest smartphone on the block or even in the neighborhood. Despite its speedy sci-fi name, the Warp runs a slow 1.2 GHz dual-core snapdragon 400 processor backed up with just one gigabyte of RAM. Respectable flagship handsets these days packed at least 2 gigabytes of RAM and quad-core computing power. Even so, the WARP 4G does feature Android 4.1 Jellybean software. I know it's not the most recent version, but honestly, Android 4.3 is hard to find anywhere. And at the moment, it's nowhere in Boost Mobile's phone line up. I also like how ZTE shows not to mess with Android too much by slathering its own custom skin all over it. Outside the few carrier-branded apps and a slightly different lock screen essentially get stuck Android plus access to Google services and digital storefronts. As its name implies, the Warp 4G also connects to boost LTE network for fast 4G wireless data. So far, I can say that in New York, with the Warp linked to boost 4G really sprints on official LTE signal. Downloads have been very fast. You'll find a big 4.5-inch 720p HD LCD screen on the Warp 4G too. Sure, it could be brighter, sharper and have higher contrast compared to premium phones with superior screens. Still, it's a lot of display for the Warp 4G's price. Above the screen is a VGA front-facing camera and notification light. Below are 3 backlit capacitive buttons for basic Android control. The left edge holds volume up and down keys as well as a micro USB port. On the right is a dedicated camera button. But it does not wake up the phone from sleep to take pictures. Up top is a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack and power key. Around back is the ZTE Warp 4G's main 8-megapixel camera and LED flash. The camera takes pictures quickly provided you have enough light. It's camera app has plenty of features too. There are advanced shooting mode such as burst, panorama and HDR. There are also manual options for just about every setting. The textured back of the Warp 4G provides a good grip as well and resists fingerprints. Under the back cover is the phone's removable battery plus slots for micro SD and sim cards. I'm Brian Bennett for CNET and you've just taken a first look at the ZTE Warp 4G for Boost Mobile. Be sure to check out our full review.

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