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 phone has most of the connectivity options we've come to expect from the top-end smartphones.

Perhaps the highlight is the 7.2Mbps HSDPA mobile internet on the UK-best Three Mobile network. We were able to maintain internet connectivity in a range of locations, even on a long walk out into the Shropshire wilderness.

We've performed the same test with phones on all of the other networks. O2 and T-Mobile performed pretty well, but Orange and Vodafone struggle.

ZTE racer

Of course, this test will vary depending on the area, but we've found that a test in a rural area is a good barometer for nationwide success.

For when you're indoors, the reliable 802.11 Wi-Fi takes over proceedings with no ill effects. There's also 2G connectivity on the EDGE network.

Switching to 2G networks in the wireless controls menu will also conserve valuable battery life, if you're less reliant on a fast, constant internet connection.

Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP is on board, and we had no problems pairing our laptop with the device, enabling quick and easy file transfers.

The connectivity also enabled us to play back the phone's audio files and to use the computer as a loudspeaker to make calls. Strangely though, enabling this feature automatically calls your last number.

ZTE racer review

If you'd rather not use Bluetooth to transfer your files, it can be done by mounting the device via USB. There your media files can be easily transferred onto the 2GB microSD card, and the phone will automatically organise them into the corresponding areas on the handset.

Considering Three Mobile's broadband prowess, we'd have really appreciated being able to tether this device to our laptops for on-the-go connectivity. We had the Three Mobile software installed from a previous dongle and hoped to use it to connect, but without any joy.

The Vodafone 845 enabled this, so it's a bit of a minor disappointment.


One of the reasons why every manufacturer, aside from Apple and the ever-stubborn Nokia, is verging towards Android is the burgeoning App Market, which is now a credible second tier alternative to the App Store.

While the sheer amount of high quality apps still trails the iPhone's offering, there's more than enough to get by on here, many of which come pre-loaded on to the handset.

The Android 2.1 version of the Market is very nicely designed and a million miles ahead of the initial incarnations.

We've already spoken of the on-board Google awesomeness with Maps, Navigation, Mail, Latitude, Places and Talk, but there are other handy additions like Sound Recorder and Docs To Go, the latter of which enables you to read Microsoft Office documents.

ZTE racer

There's an FM radio on board which works with the bundled-in headset acting as an antenna. Unfortunately, the quality of the headset is so shocking that, unless you use your own, the FM radio functionality is pretty pointless.

It's a pretty poorly designed interface too, in all fairness. Scanning for channels is a laborious and boring experience and once you get there, signal quality is generally poor.

In terms of social networking, there are the bog-standard official Facebook and Twitter widgets that display status updates and fields to update your own, while providing links to your feeds.

If you want to display them on your Home screen though, both of them combined will fill an entire screen. With the limited real estate offered by only three screens, there's a decision to be made.

ZTE racer

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'.