The ZTE Open C smartphone costs only £60, and that’s the unlocked price so you can put a SIM from any operator into it.
It runs the open source Firefox OS, and is aimed mainly at emerging markets such as China and India. However, you can buy it in the UK from ZTE’s ebay shop.
ZTE Open C review: design and hardware
It’s easy to criticise the Open C for its looks and generally mediocre build quality, but it’s crucial to remember that this is a device built to a price. A very low price.
While it will feel like an upgrade from any feature phone, the Open C won’t stand up to any comparisons with budget Android or Windows Phone handsets. And it’s hard not to compare the Open C with the Motorola Moto E and Nokia Lumia 520.
The Open C has a low-resolution 4in screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and even a built-in FM radio.
There’s 4GB of internal storage and a microSD slot for adding up to 32GB more.
Its rear panel unclips so you can insert your old-school, full-size SIM card, and the battery is removable.
Given the price, it’s nice that you get a mains charger, USB cable and a pair of headphones in the box.
What you don’t get is a front-facing camera. The rear camera has just a 3Mp sensor.
ZTE Open C review: software
Firefox OS is based on HTML 5. Everything is relatively familiar – it feels like early versions of Android – and the latest update adds a notification centre and quick access to common settings including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Because it relies on web technology, you can use any online apps without having to download and install them from the Firefox Marketplace, which is bereft of big-name titles.
There’s an interesting ‘adaptive app search’ which brings up a load of web results based on what you type.
Firefox OS feels far from finished, though. It isn’t nearly as slick as Android or Windows Phone, and it’s often frustrating to use the Open C.
There are quite a few apps pre-installed, including Facebook, Twitter, HERE Maps and some games. You also get the expected mail, messages, contacts, notes, clock and photos apps.
ZTE Open C review: performance
As you might expect from a phone that costs £60, this is no powerhouse. There’s some noticeable lag when navigating generally around the phone, and you shouldn’t expect smooth gaming.
Battery life is also on the wrong side of average and means you’ll probably have to charge it before the day is out.
ZTE Open C review: bottom line
Although it’s better than the original ZTE Open, the Open C’s performance still isn’t great and the operating system makes the 4in screen appear to have even fewer pixels than it really does.
If you’re on a really tight budget, you’d be better off going for a pay-as-you-go smartphone such as the Lumia 520, which will cost you just £75 locked to a mobile operator such as T-Mobile or Vodafone. If you’d prefer Android, then look to the Moto E.