Cheap ZTE Sonata 4G is slightly off-key

For just $80 off-contract, you might be able to look past the ZTE Sonata 4G's chunky design, so-so screen quality, and underwhelming camera. Overall, the unassuming Android phone -- sold on AT&T's prepaid Aio Wireless network -- gives you decent value when you consider its strong 4G network speeds and reliable call performance.

Still, a little more money can pocket you a better phone, like Aio's Motorola Moto G for $149.99. And, if you can't budge from the $80 mark, but can change carriers, we'd still take MetroPCS' LG Optimus F6 with … Read more

What mattered at Mobile World Congress, day 2: BlackBerry, Samsung's Galactic dominance, and plucky Kazam

BARCELONA, Spain -- Hard to believe it's only day 2 of Mobile World Congress, which already feels like it's been going on for months. The CNET team is now fluent in Catalan, cannot remember any food that isn't tapas, and has renounced all other religions for that of Lionel Messi.

With most of the main announcements out of the way, it's time for some of the smaller companies to share the limelight. Speaking of which...

CNET's full coverage of Mobile World Congress

BlackBerry unveils Z3 and Q20 Poor BlackBerry. Where once it would have merited … Read more

Hands-on with the bare-bones ZTE Open II Firefox phone

BARCELONA, Spain -- At MWC this year, ZTE introduced two ultra-budget Firefox handsets: the 4-inch Open C and the more compact ZTE Open II (the sequel to the original Open). Though no pricing or availability information has been released, the Open II is aimed at emerging 3G markets outside the US.

Design The Open II is a compact device that has a smooth, almost pebble-like construction. Its wide bezels give it a notably deep chin, which is accented by a single, circular home button.

Its aesthetic actually reminds me of a more playful Grand S, ZTE's flagship handset last … Read more

Grand Memo II LTE serves up Android KitKat on massive screen (hands-on)

BARCELONA, Spain -- During a press conference at Mobile World Congress Monday, ZTE introduced its new 6-inch phablet, called the Grand Memo II LTE. The device serves as the successor to the Grand Memo, which debuted at last year's MWC. It will launch in China in April, and later roll out to other countries in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific for about $300 unlocked.

Design ZTE described the smartphone as "ultraslim," and at just .28-inch thick, it lives up to that description. However, because it also measures 6.33 inches tall and 3.26 inches wide, … Read more

With Firefox OS, Mozilla begins the $25 smartphone push

BARCELONA -- Mozilla doubled down on its bet that low-end smartphones will give Firefox OS a place in the crowded mobile market, announcing partnerships Sunday that will bring $25 smartphones to the large number of people who can't afford high-end models like Apple's iPhone 5S and Samsung's Galaxy S5 that cost hundreds of dollars.

At the Mobile World Congress here, Mozilla announced a deal with Chinese chip designer Spreadtrum Communications that will mean Firefox OS smartphones will arrive in extremely cost-sensitive markets like India and Indonesia where people often buy phones from a bin in a store. … Read more

ZTE's colorful, 4-inch Open C features Firefox OS (hands-on)

BARCELONA, Spain -- In partnership with Mozilla, ZTE announced two of its newest Firefox handsets during a press conference at MWC. One of which is the ZTE Open II, while the other, slightly more powerful phone, is the Open C. The phone will launch in Venezuela for Telefónica, and Uruguay in the second quarter of this year.

Design The device comes in many two attractive colors: bright orange and blue. Though it's undoubtedly a budget phone, its faux-metallic aesthetic lends a premium look and feel that is quite stylish.

The handset features a 4-inch WVGA display with … Read more

US buyers: It's time to consider ZTE

Editors' note, March 16, 2014: This post has been updated with additional analysis from MWC 2014.

ZTE may not be on the tip of everyone's tongue when it comes to popular mobile phone companies in the US, but in a few years, it just might be.

In addition to building a steady brand presence in China and in emerging markets (indeed, at this year's Mobile World Congress, it debuted two ultra-affordable Firefox phones, the Open C and the Open II, for example), ZTE continues to make incremental but noticeable strides when it comes to expanding its brand presence … Read more

Aio Wireless shows Moto G, Lumia 520, ZTE Sonata some love

Prepaid carrier Aio Wireless becomes three smartphones stronger this February 14. That's when the AT&T-owned wireless provider adds a trio of new smartphones to its lineup -- the Motorola Moto G, Nokia Lumia 520, and ZTE Sonata 4G.

We've spent a long time with Nokia's Lumia 521 for T-Mobile and 520 for AT&T, and Motorola's budget Moto G is already marching across the major carriers. The ZTE Sonata 4G -- which we saw at CES -- is the only one of the new Valentine's Day handsets that's exclusive to Aio. … Read more

ZTE Boost Max is a 5.7-inch phablet for cost-cutters

When Boost Mobile decided to rebrand ZTE's Iconic Phablet as the Boost Max, the carrier wanted to go big -- 5.7 inches big, in fact.

But even though it's touted as Boost's first phablet and has a large touch screen, the Max isn't very "max" at all. Especially when you consider it has just a 720p display, a dual-core processor, and an average-quality 8-megapixel camera.

At $299.99 prepaid though, the device is indeed a bargain. Taking into account other handsets of similar size, it's one of the least expensive supersize phones … Read more

Entry-level ZTE Altair phone offers a physical keyboard for dirt cheap

A compact messaging phone with a classic design, the ZTE Altair for Aio Wireless is a refreshing change from oversize, high-priced smartphones, especially if you're on a very tight budget.

At just $49.99 without a contract, it's not going to come with all the bells and whistles of a modern smartphone, especially considering it features a mere a 2-megapixel camera and 3G capabilities.

But, don't count this little guy out completely. The Altair's solid call quality, simple user interface, comfy portrait keyboard, and bargain price tag all do well for those in the market for … Read more