Unless you're a MetroPCS customer, it's likely you haven't yet heard of ZTE in the United States. Until the Chinese manufacturer launched the ZTE Salute with Verizon Wireless, it had never cracked the U.S. market with a top-tier carrier. The basic tools and lackluster display won't make the entry-level Salute a memorable debut effort, but the slider phone's interesting design details and budget price make it a redeeming value. If you're entering a new two-year agreement, you can pick it up for $19.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate either online or at Verizon Wireless stores.
The Salute stands to attention at 3.94 inches tall, 2 inches wide, and 0.54 inch thick. It's a little fat in the hand and pocket, but comfortable on the ear. The Salute easily fits into a purse or bag, and at 3.53 ounces it has a heft in line with that of a smartphone.
An attractive handset, the Salute sports a glossy black face with matte silver accents, black and silver sides, and a silver backing. The 2.4-inch QVGA (320x240 pixels) screen supports 65,000 colors. Navigation is straightforward, but unfortunately, the Menu screen looks dull and fuzzy around the edges.
Below the screen are two triangular soft keys, a circular navigation array with central select button, and the Talk and End keys. At the very bottom is a Clear key. Slide up the phone to reveal an alphanumeric keypad. The keys are slightly raised above the surface, but on the whole feel fairly flat.
The dedicated camera button and 2.5-millimeter headset jack are on the right spine; the volume rocker, speakerphone button, and Micro-USB charger port are on the left. A 1.3-megapixel camera and accompanying vanity mirror are on the back. We appreciate ZTE's attention to detail, which shows up in the Salute's rounded corners and visually interesting angles and textures on the spines, dialpad, and phone face.
The Salute has a small 500-person phone book with room for five phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, a street address, and a note. There's also space for an instant-messaging screen name, a picture pairing, and calling groups. You can also choose to pair a contact to one of the Salute's 25 polyphonic ringtones. The phone also has a silent mode.