Battery life is a funny one on the ZTE Racer. It can appear to charge very quickly via the micro-USB port. We plugged it in while rocking the red zone, and within in an hour the meter was giving us the green light – before degenerating at pretty much the same rate.

ZTE racer review

These lights change colour more often than the Trafalgar Square traffic lights.

In saying that, we left this phone for two days without touching it and it was still hanging on for dear life so there is a little staying power in the 1100mAh battery.

So, it all comes down to frequency of use. During the test, the battery didn't hold out for more than about 4 hours while we constantly browsed the net, played media, took photos and generally took liberties with the little fella.

ZTE is claiming a modest 3 hours and 30 minutes of talk-time, and up to 200 hours in standby mode. The results aren't too far shy of that, but this isn't the phone you want to be taking to a festival. You'd be lucky to make it past the first 3am silent disco.

If you're a moderate user, you'll be able to get away with charging every evening, but if you're attached to your smartphone, it might be an idea to take the micro-USB cable to work.

Maps

The idea of a fully-functional mobile sat nav on a £100 phone was a pipedream as far back as a year ago. The only real option was to pay for something like TomTom for iPhone and Co-pilot for Android.

Now every new phone under the Android banner has Google Maps Navigation service and it doesn't cost a penny. This is the cheapest phone yet to boast the voice-enabled functionality, so how does it function?

Firstly you'll have to install the speech package, which is a very swift addition to the handset from the Android Market. Then, once you've searched for directions in Google Maps, just select the Navigation option and you're on your way.

ZTE racer

However, it's not that straightforward. The phone often found it quite difficult to establish a reliable GPS signal and indoors it's a complete no-go.

Once you have a signal locked on, the map view quickly switches to a more familiar 3D view and there's a host of layers you can add including satellite view and traffic.

Voice instructions come through very clearly, but we could certainly use a little more volume from the speakers.

If you need to come out of the app, Google Maps will continue to run in the background and it's easy to access the "ongoing" service from the Notifications tab, which can be dragged down from the top of the Android interface.

Now we have to question the wisdom of housing Google Maps Navigation on a device with a 2.8-inch screen, and an unresponsive one at that - although we understand that it's included by default, and good to have as an option.

But for a start, there's no way that attaching this to your dashboard is going to cut it, unless you have telescopic vision. So, you're going to be holding this in your hand, and we can't say that it's much safer than texting on the go.

We reckon you're better off sticking to phones like the Dell Streak or Motorola Milestone for using this functionality, but it's still very handy to have.

When trying to find your way around a city on foot, the regular Google Maps functionality is obviously on board.

Google Maps also remembers your previous searches and in v4.1 there's the option of a Live Maps wallpaper, which follows your movements around with a little blue dot on your home screen.

There's also Google Latitude functionality added in, so you and your friends can track each other's progress around the globe.

Also on board is the new Places functionality, which enables you to list places of interest or your business on Google Maps, but also to discover nearby restaurants, bars and coffee houses. It's a really slick, fast loading interface that displayed accurate information very quickly.

ZTE racer

Altogether, we were quite surprised at how rapid the Google Maps experience was on a phone of this ilk. The GPS signal is not always 100 per cent reliable but when it locks onto a signal, the phone's processor doesn't let you down with lagging loading times.