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Cricket's ZTE Overture 2 Smartphone

ZTE Overture 2 How good could a $50 prepaid smartphone be? Cricket Wireless provided Consumer World with a ZTE Overture 2 review unit to evaluate. Surprisingly, it is very good.

ZTE is certainly not a top-tier brand like Samsung, Apple, or HTC, so consumers may be hestitate to buy one of their products. At least for the Overture 2 (and not for some of their other models like the ZTE Speed), it could be wise investment for very little money.

The Overture 2 has decent, but not outstanding specs. It has a 4.5 inch screen with 854 by 480 resolution (with surprising decent text sharpness). It comes with Android 5.0 (Lollipop), a quad core processor, 1 gigs of ram and 8-gigs of rom, a 5 megapixel rear camera with flash, a 0.3 megapixel rear camera (which is horrible), and a 2100 mAh non-removable battery. It can take up to a 32 gig microSD card for additional storage.

The first thing you will notice is that the phone takes a long time to boot up -- some 50 seconds. But once it is all loaded, it does not exhibit any sluggishness. Once opened, apps stay open in this Android version, and they recommend leaving them open for faster application starts. What doesn't always start is wi-fi. I often had to manually connect at home after connecting outside the house.

The biggest plus about this phone is the sound quality of voice calls. It frankly sounds more like a corded phone (but not fully) and less like a cellphone. In tests we conducted, friends said I sounded loud and clear. This easily surpassed even top-of-the-line Samsung, LG, and HTC phones that we tested previously which sounded "muffly" or "tinny." The speaker, however, is on the rear of the phone, and quite small. That volume is just barely adequate. You'll wish you could make it louder, particularly if used in a car.

The picture quality of the camera is sometimes pretty good, and other times, not so hot. It does not always focus perfectly, and some pictures are not as sharp as they could be.

Apps generally work as expected, but one of MrConsumer's favs simply would not load. And, because there is only eight gigs of storage onboard, you'll probably need to add a micro SD card. Like other Android phones, however, you can only place some apps on that card, so if you are app-crazy, you will run out of space.

The phone has 4G-LTE connectivity on AT&T's network in part because Cricket Wireless is owned by AT&T. You do not get the full speed that AT&T offers, however. Cricket throttles it at 8 mbps download and (apparently) 12 mbps upload. This is plenty fast for most uses, and its availability is superior to T-Mobile. Like most prepaid phones, roaming off the network is not possible.

Cricket is an excellent value because their rates are low and all taxes and fees (except state sales tax) are included in their advertised plans. For example, you can get a $35 plan (with required autopay) that includes 2.5 gigs of data and unlimited calls and texts. If and when they drop it to $30, it will be one of the best values in prepaid service.

It is hard to predict whether the phone will develop problems over time, but after two months of use, it has yet to fail in any respect.

Could the screen be a little bigger? Yes. Could it boot faster? Yes. Could the speaker be a little louder? Yes. Could the camera be better? Yes. But, all in all, for $50, what a great little smartphone on a good network, with terrific telephone call quality.

October 2015

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