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ZTE Era hands-on: It actually works!

I don’t revel at poking fun at companies and devices. Okay, maybe I do. Trying to get some hands-on time with the ZTE Era quad-core phone was a long and arduous task that I ultimately failed to achieve at Mobile World Congress in February. (Read about our great MWC ZTE Era quest.) Well, it’s been a couple months and today at CTIA, ZTE had an entire table of Era’s to play with. Unfortunately, most of them were still knocking on death’s door, but I did get a chance to try one out. 

While the construction of the ZTE Era leaves a lot to be desired (a lot), the phone itself isn’t terribly bad. It runs on the newest version of Google’s popular smartphone OS, Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), as well as the popular quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor without much added fluff. There was only a single page of apps installed and I’m not convinced that users didn’t install some of them. Interestingly, ZTE has added a full-3D background to make the device look better. The unlock screen has been changed as well. It now looks like a colorful disco ball of sorts. 

As far as we know, there is no local release date or pricing information available. Due to the current limitations of the Tegra 3, it’s unlikely that a US version of the phone would be quad-core (the Tegra 3 isn’t compatible with LTE, yet). Recently, ZTE officials have set an ambitious goal of being the #3 smartphone maker in just a few years time. I think it’s going to take more than the Era to get there. Hopefully it will step it up and really make a play for US consumers later this year. 

– By Jeffrey Van Camp