As well as the Skate - which is being sold by Orange under the name of the Monte Carlo - Shenzen-based phone manufacturer ZTE is releasing another two phones in the UK this year; the Tureis and the Libra.
We got to have some brief hands-on time with them both at an event last night where we snapped these pictures.
The ZTE Tureis (perhaps an alternative spelling of Taurus?) is a BlackBerry-esque mid-range Android phone. The version we saw here is an early pre-production model, so some of the specs we saw could change before release.
Likewise, the ZTE Libra we saw is a very early build and may undergo some changes before release. But in a nutshell, it’s a straightforward mid-range Android phone with a 5-megapixel camera.
What we like about these phones and the ZTE Skate is that they both come with the stock Android UI, giving you free reign to customise with all manner of skins and widgets. We understand that like the Skate these will be very competitively priced; stock Android and a low price point - a modder’s paradise?
We’ll keep you informed about prices and release dates about both of these in due course. Until then, have a flick through our hands-on gallery and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
First up is the ZTE Tureis. The screen is 2.6-inches and you get a full four-row Qwerty keyboard. You might have noticed that the keyboard layout is actually Azerty instead of the usual Qwerty - we’re told that this’ll be changed to Qwerty for the UK, as you’d expect. The keys have a bouncy rubbery feel which give it a good bit of grip and make it easy to type on.
This model of the Tureis was running on Android 2.2 Froyo, but as we said this could change before release. Given that both the ZTE Skate and (apparently) the Libra run on Gingerbread, we’d expect the Tureis to as well. Above the Qwerty keys, there’s the standard four Android keys - home, menu, search and back - in between which is a directional control/confirmation key.
On either side of the menu buttons, you get a green key for confirming calls (on the left) and a cancel key over on the right. Note the dedicated camera key there on the bottom row, two across from the space bar. Physical shutter keys are a big plus in our books so we hope that this feature makes it through to the final model.
We were told that the camera resolution is 3.2-megapixels, but the camera itself appeared to have been disabled when we tried to take a pic with it - like we said, this is an early model so we can’t expect everything to be working. Note the micro USB connection up there on the side and the 3.5mm connection on the top.
Now for the ZTE Libra. Like the ZTE Skate, you get the home, menu and back keys along the bottom there. This is slightly smaller than the Skate, featuring a 3.5-inch touchscreen.
As you can see, it appears to be running on Gingerbread - it has the same icons in the notification bar and the same green accents on the launcher at the bottom. We weren't able to find out exactly which version of Gingerbread (2.3.3 or 2.3.4); the battery was on its last legs so we didn't really have time to dive into the settings.
The Libra feels lightweight and feels well balanced (no pun intended) without feeling flimsy or cheap. It has a matt rubbery finish which gives it a bit of additional grip. Again like the Tureis, this is pure stock Android; no custom UIs or skins, the same vanilla Android look and feel of our updated Nexus One.
On the side there's a volume rocker and a little catch allowing you to get the battery cover off.
On the back of the Libra there's the 5-megapixel camera, no flash. Again, as with the Tureis, the camera appeared to have been locked down so we couldn't have a play around with it. We also noticed the TMN branding on the back; TMN is the biggest mobile network in Portugal so we nipped over to its site. We found this page, detailing specs for the 'Sapo A5', a phone which looks an awful lot like the ZTE Libra to us.
Specs listed there say that the phone runs on Android 2.2 Froyo. But if that phone is the Libra, then there's nothing to stop it from getting an upgrade to Gingerbread. Other listed specs, or 'características', say that the Sapo A5 has a 600MHz processor and memory expandable up to 32GB.