With Android phones like the popular Skate, ZTE devices have so far offered smart phone functions without the usual sky-high price tag. The Tania is ZTE's first Windows Phone and it's hoping the large, clear screen and typically low price will attract those after some Windows fun on a budget.
It's available soon on contracts between £10 and £20 per month. We've gone hands-on with the Tania to bring you this preview, but keep your eyes peeled for a full review when one lands in our office.
Design and build quality
The ZTE Tania -- we're pronouncing it like the name Tanya, although the company laughably says Tann-ay-ah -- isn't part of the budget smart phone crowd that aims to be small enough to swallow (we're looking at you, HTC Explorer). Instead, it offers mightier dimensions for some proper fist-filling fun.
It's packing a 4.3-inch screen, which is the same size as you'd find on the glorious Samsung Galaxy S2. That large display gives the Tania an overall length of 129mm and a width of 68mm. Those are pretty much identical proportions to the new Motorola Razr, which we found sat comfortably in our hands when typing in landscape mode or playing games, but was perhaps slightly awkward to hold and type in one hand.
Unlike the Razr's 7.1mm thickness, the Tania comes in at just under 11mm. It's certainly not what you'd call chubby, but it's lacking the stunning razor-sharp design that'll turn heads in a cocktail bar. It weighs in at 158g, which is heavier than the Razr, but won't drag your trousers down.
We only had a limited hands-on with the Tania, but we made sure to give it a good squeeze and poke. The back casing didn't seem to offer the firm quality we like to see, but overall the phone seemed well put together and didn't leave us with any immediate concerns about durability. We'll make sure to sufficiently mistreat it in our full review to see just how sturdy it is.
In terms of looks, the Tania isn't particularly remarkable. The whole front of the phone is dominated by the screen, below which are the three dedicated Windows Phone touch-sensitive buttons for navigating around.
Around the back is a plain expanse of black, punctuated by the 5-megapixel camera and the Windows Phone logo at the bottom. It's hardly the most stylish blower available, so if you really want to make a statement, you might want to check out the LG Prada phone.
The 4.3-inch screen has a resolution of 480x800 pixels, which we're really rather pleased with for a phone in this price range. It's the same resolution as the Galaxy S2, so browsing the web or reading your email won't require quite as much swiping around to see everything.
It's not the Super AMOLED Plus display we loved on the S2, however, so we're not expecting it to have the same vivid colours and deep contrast. In our eyes-on, it seemed pretty bright and colourful, but we were in a dark room, where even the dimmest of screens can shine like a star going supernova.
We'll leave our final verdict on the screen for our full review, but we're pretty confident it's at least good enough to display your photos without embarrassment and will probably do the odd YouTube clip justice as well. The resolution is certainly impressive.
Windows Phone Mango
The Tania is the first ZTE phone to offer Windows Phone software rather than Android. It's packing the latest version of Microsoft's software, 7.5 -- codenamed Mango -- which fills the phone with big, colourful live tiles.
Although very much the underdog in the smart phone world, we're really rather keen on Windows Phone. The tiles are very easy to use and the integration of your Xbox Live account and social networks is particularly handy for gaming and Facebook addicts.
Currently, Windows Phone lags far behind Android and iOS in the size of its app store. You can get most of your essentials, such as Spotify and the ever-popular Angry Birds, but it's got a long way to go before it challenges the hundreds of thousands of apps available to Android and iPhone users.
We're hoping that the more popular the platform becomes, the more developers will create apps that really take advantage of the interface. Budget phones such as this are a great way to expand the market and convince devs it's worth making apps for Windows.
Stuffed inside the Tania is a 1GHz processor paired up with 512MB of RAM. Compared to the dual-core offerings of the higher-end smart phones, that's nothing special, but it's a fair chunk more firepower than the 600MHz offering on the HTC Explorer.
We weren't able to perform our usual arsenal of processor-shattering tests on it, but swiping around the home screen, loading menus and booting up apps seemed quick and responsive. Once you start to fill it up with power-hungry live tiles it's likely to slow down, but it seems like it's off to a good start.
The Tania doesn't pack the supercharged processors found in the smart phone elite, but it seems to have enough juice to handle most tasks. Couple that with a good resolution screen and colourful, intuitive Windows Phone software and we potentially have a smart phone that belies its low price tag.