The ZTE Skate is the unbranded version of Orange’s Monte Carlo, and has been finallu released in the UK with an asking price of around £170 to £180.
This is a little higher than the current £120 price point of the Monte Carlo. But that’s the cost of unvarnished vanilla Android; this is the pure Skate experience, one without the custom Orange apps (apps that one might term ‘bloatware’) installed.
For your money you do get a spacious, 4.3-inch screen, which puts the ZTE Skate up there with the HTC Sensation and the Samsung Galaxy S2 in terms of size. That’s about where the favourable comparisons to those phones’ displays end, however; what is has in touchscreen real estate it doesn’t quite have in processing oomph.
Internal memory, a common gripe with Android phones, is pretty limited (150MB on paper) but there’s the microSD option so you can flesh this out by up to 32GB if you wish.
Its design, while perhaps not the most innovative or original, isn’t awful and it’s neither super heavyweight like the Alactel OT-900 or light as a bag of feathers like the Galaxy S2 either. There’s also a mechanical shutter key for the camera (always a plus) along with three physical control keys for back, home and menu.
The screen resolution is pretty low, at just 217 PPI. We did an image search on Google for some new wallpapers for the phone, and even though we were deliberately pulling down images with huge resolutions, they still looked grainy when we set them as the Skate’s background.
The next most obvious downside is the responsiveness of the screen – it’s not great. Typing has to be slow, otherwise the vanilla Android 2.3 Gingerbread keyboard just doesn’t keep up with you. Panning through a Google image search by swiping our fingers across the screen wasn’t acknowledged by the phone at all half the time.
The build is very plasticky and is a magnet for fingerprints – no oleophobic coatings here. It also feels bulky, at 10.4mm deep. We know, we know, it’s cheap, but that doesn’t necessarily excuse it feeling cheap.
There’s a volume rocker on the left-hand side of the Skate, and audio quality for video and music is fine, playing through the phone’s 3.5mm jack.
On the other side is the Micro-USB charging port and the power switch.
There’s a 5-megapixel camera on the back, that takes surprisingly crisp stills with and without the flash. Video, however, was very grainy, and didn’t take kindly to being swung round in an arc.
The power behind the ZTE Skate is provided by an 800MHz processor. It also offers a microSD card slot, which will allow users to beef up the internal storage by 32GB.