Quad-core ZTE Era with Android 4.0 and cheap ZTE Orbit with WP Tango announced, we go hands-on

Not content with the prospect of its fellow Chinese company Huawei stealing the show at MWC, ZTE has also announced a couple of interesting smartphones today. The quad-core ZTE Era runs Android, and the ZTE Orbit is a Windows Phone, one of the first to run Microsoft’s upcoming Tango release of its mobile operating system.

The ZTE Era comes packing Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor, and it’s the first smartphone to also have Nvidia’s brand new Icera 450 HSPA+ modem, which signifies Nvidia’s transformation into a mobile SoC (System-on-a-Chip) maker. The company no longer has to rely on third-party baseband (modem) chips, and as such can sell an integrated CPU+GPU+modem solution.

The ZTE Era has a 4.3-inch qHD (540×960) touchscreen, 8 GB of built-in storage space further expandable by way of microSD cards, HD voice and Dolby sound. The ZTE Era is 7.8 mm thin and will run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich when it launches in the second half of the year.

No pricing details have been announced yet, and unfortunately that shipping estimation is a long time from now. And a lot can happen in the insanely fast-moving smartphone space in even a few months.

ZTE, however, is hopeful that its sales numbers will go up like crazy this year. And it would clearly like the Era to be at the front of the pack in its class, sales-wise. Whether or not that can be achieved in real life remains to be seen, and the truth is that Huawei’s new smartphones have significantly better build quality than the new ZTE smartphones, and also seem to have better materials chosen.

That, of course, has nothing to do with performance, only with appearance. Yet the appearance of a phone is what makes the most impact for most people, so ZTE will have to come up with some pretty competitive pricing to compensate for this.

On the Windows Phone front, the newly announced smartphone is called ZTE Orbit and is at the exact opposite end of the price range compared to the Era. The Orbit should be even cheaper than the ZTE Tania, which is pretty cheap itself, especially for a non-Tango Windows Phone.

Speaking of that, the ZTE Orbit apparently will run Windows Phone Tango, the version of the OS optimized for low-end hardware. The Orbit seems to have just 256 MB of RAM, according to Windows Phone’s reporting on one of the demo units at ZTE’s booth. However, the spec list attached to said device says it has 512 MB of RAM. We certainly think that 256 MB is more plausible, especially given this phone’s budget positioning and the fact that it runs Tango. Unfortunately though the measly RAM amount could lead to certain apps not being available for such Tango devices. We don’t know yet how bad this will be, but the situation certainly has the potential to hurt prospective WP consumers. We’ll keep you posted on the matter.

The ZTE Orbit has 4 GB of built-in storage, HD voice, a 5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash, a 1 GHz processor, a 4-inch 480×800 touchscreen, HSPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

The ZTE Orbit will be out in the second quarter of this year, so between April and June. If priced reasonably (read:dirt cheap), the Orbit could sell quite well even in ‘Western’ markets, despite the fact that 4 GB is a very low amount of storage space to have in a smartphone in this day and age. And that there is basically its biggest shortcoming (unless it also has just 256 MB of RAM, of course).

Here’s a full gallery of pictures showing both ZTE devices:

Author: Vlad Bobleanta

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