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Hands On: Optus ZTE Hop Smart V811

2015-03-25 16.58.11Today we’re testing out a budget 3G Android smartphone from ZTE that is available on Optus Prepaid, the “Hop Smart” (V811) that has just been released.

At a RRP of $59 including a SIM starter kit, you’re not going to expect it to set the world on fire with its performance, but hopefully it’ll represent some good value for money.

Let’s take a look at this affordable Android phone and see what you get.

What’s In The Box?

In addition to the handset and battery, you also get a stereo headset with microphone, USB to Micro USB charge/sync cable and a mains charger plus quick start guide and warranty information.

First Impressions

For a budget smartphone, the styling is pretty reasonable. The back cover features a matte finish in a navy blue/purple colour, with the camera in the top left corner and a small ZTE logo in the centre of the phone, about 1/3 the way down, being the only two items on the back cover. The sides feature a plastic strip in gun metal grey, with the volume buttons on the right hand side and a wake/lock button on the top left of the device also in the same gun metal grey coloured plastic. The phone feels solidly built and firm.

The 4″ screen has a resolution of 480×800 pixels at 233 pixels per inch, pretty standard for most low end Android phones at the moment and while it won’t blow you away with its image quality, it is clear enough to read text and view images on.

Software

The ZTE Hop Smart is running Android 4.4.4 with very minimal changes made to the stock Android build by ZTE.

One interesting thing about the software for this phone as well is the availability of third party ROMs including CyanogenMod 12 (Android 5.0.2 Lollipop), because the core hardware in this phone has been used in several different models of ZTE phones released around the world for a couple of years including ZTE’s Open C that runs Firefox OS. If installing custom firmware on a phone is your thing, a quick search will show the forum with downloads and instructions on how to flash this firmware to your phone – but that’s beyond the scope of this review.

ZTE have a slightly unusual screen unlock method where you just need to push/hold the screen to unlock rather than swipe.

Being an Optus Prepaid phone, it is also preloaded with the “My Optus” app that allows you to check your balance and recharge your service.

Performance

When a prepaid smartphone costs less than it would cost for one month of a 24 month contract with a flagship phone, you know that the performance of this phone isn’t going to set the world on fire.

That being said, for a budget smartphone, it feels responsive and usable. It scored 13849 on the AnTuTu Benchmark 5.6.2 for Android, performing as good as 2012’s flagship devices and for a fraction of what they would have cost – but a long way from today’s current devices. The 1.2 Ghz dual core processor and 512 MB of RAM will not see this phone setting any speed records, but

The target market for these types of budget smartphones are teenagers and the elderly, and while a teenager might not find it to be a “cool” phone, it will handle all of the social media and messaging apps that they throw at it, as well as allowing them to make and receive calls and browse the web or use Google Maps on the go.

The 2 megapixel camera on the rear is quite low specced, even for a budget smartphone – which means the photos taken by this phone will look grainy and low resolution, and the lack of an LED camera flash for night or indoor photos is always disappointing to see on a smartphone in 2015.

Not including a front camera is also another cost saving measure that has been made on this phone, and again something that I find disappointing for a phone released in 2015.

Summary

If you’re looking for the cheapest Android smartphone that you can get, then the ZTE Hop Smart from Optus Prepaid is certainly a strong contender.

However, it may be worth investing a little bit more and getting one of the current generation of cheap 4G smartphones, like the Huawei Y550 or the ZTE Fit 4G Smart that can both be had for under $100 as prepaid phones.

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