ZTE Era hands-on pictures: The least durable phone at MWC

Nick and I have had a few annoying moments covering this year’s Mobile World Congress, but no quest was quite so epic as our attempt to try out the Era, ZTE’s new quad-core phone. ZTE made a huge proclamation at the beginning of the show, declaring that it would become the number three phone maker in the world (likely under Nokia and Samsung) by 2015. The MWC grounds and city of Barcelona were littered with ZTE logos and all attendees had name badges with ZTE written all over them. Unfortunately, it seems like ZTE’s ability to promote itself ended with its logo. The company had one of the most disorganized booths at the show.

ZTE had a number of new phones on display, but most of them had only one unit, and they were in terrible condition. The Era, the company’s flagship phone, was not working each of the three days we tried to come view it and no one at the booth had another unit to try. We were told to check at Google’s official Android booth, but the unit at that booth had broken as well. Then we tried to use it again at the Nvidia booth, but their phone was not operational anymore either. After finagling with the unit at the ZTE booth one last time, we were able to press the broken phone back together enough for it to turn on for a moment, but we failed to capture it on video fast enough.

Our short experience with the Era was not particularly great. Though it boasts a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, Android 4.0 stuttered and lagged, perhaps for legitimate reasons, or perhaps because the demo unit was falling apart. We snapped a few photos of the ZTE Era so you can get a look at the hardware, but apologize that we cannot offer more. According to ZTE’s specsheet, the phone has a 4.3-inch (960×540 pixel) screen, 8GB of internal storage, runs on a “Quad-platform,” and supports “1080p pictures.” It may be a great device, but if ZTE wants to be a major player in the smartphone game, it should consider spending more money on its phones and booth, and less on plastering its logo on every surface at MWC.