ZTE Racer review

Is an Android phone for under £100 value for money?

The definitive ZTE Racer review
The definitive ZTE Racer review

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The ZTE Racer isn't a bad little music player. Sound quality is much better than we've heard on some of the lower-end Android contenders, such as the Acer Liquid E and the Vodafone 845.

Although lacking a little in the volume stakes, audio is of a good standard through a decent pair of headphones (the in-box cans aren't even worth unwrapping). The funky, sexual sounds of Rick James came pulsating into our brains at MP3 player-like quality.

We'd happily use this as an MP3 player in a forgot-my-iPod emergency, and with a 2GB microSD card in the box, you can add enough choice nuggets to get you through the day.

ZTE racer

Adding music is very straightforward. Just mount the device as a storage device via the micro-USB cable and drag and drop onto the memory card. The phone will sort the organisation.

The music player is also pretty good and easy to use, segregating artists, albums, songs and playlists, while the playback screen has easy to access controls like repeat and random.

The only real drawback was how playback occasionally skips when the accelerometer kicks in. This makes it a little more difficult to use as a mobile music player, although you could turn the acclerometer off (we tried this, but when we used the phone normally again we got frustrated).

As with most of other aspects of this phone, having Android on board gives the phone a thousand times the functionality it would have with a manufacturer-built OS.

The Android Market offers access to the Amazon MP3 store, which enables you to download music to the device on the go.

ZTE racer

The device plays MP3, WAV and iTunes-friendly AAC files if that's your preferred download portal.


Video playback (H.264, H.263, and MPEG4) is a slightly different proposition. We're only talking about a 2.8-inch, 240x320, TFT screen here, which isn't the crispest in the world. The video app icon is slightly pixelated, as is the content within.

We tested the Rocky trailer on the device, and both Mick and Rocky's haggard mugs don't get much prettier on this screen.

ZTE racer

The accelerometer lag also blights the video player, as well, which is a strange one. The processor doesn't struggle with loading or shifting from portrait to landscape view, so it's difficult to decipher where this bug originates.

The Android YouTube widget is as reliable as ever, and now benefits from an upgraded mobile YouTube player as well.

ZTE racer

As for viewing your photographs, the nifty Gallery application, which we first saw on the Google Nexus One and is rumoured to be inspiring the design of Android 3.0, features on this device too.

The thumbnails are arranged neatly into albums, and expand in an eye-pleasing animation to a grid view. From here you can view and swipe through the photos individually, although they do take a while to fully render.

ZTE racer

This is far from the best deployment of this application we've seen. Even the sub-par Acer Liquid E offered a mighty fine screen and albums separated by geographical location.

Chris Smith

A technology journalist, writer and videographer of many magazines and websites including T3, Gadget Magazine and TechRadar.com. He specializes in applications for smartphones, tablets and handheld devices, with bylines also at The Guardian, WIRED, Trusted Reviews and Wareable. Chris is also the podcast host for The Liverpool Way. As well as tech and football, Chris is a pop-punk fan and enjoys the art of wrasslin'.