Equipped with a mediocre 5-megapixel camera, the ZTE Warp takes passable pictures in a pinch, but it won't blow anyone away with its image quality. Colors in my test shots were washed out and details were fuzzy, and the autofocus takes a long 2 seconds or so to lock on to subjects. The Warp's LED flash didn't blow out people or objects in the foreground, but it did paint them with a bluish hue in low-light conditions.
Though the camera software is typical for Gingerbread, the phone does offer more advanced settings such as 50Hz and 60Hz Anti Banding, manual ISO, saturation, and sharpness.
Like the still shots, video was disappointing. The Warp's camcorder tops out at VGA resolution, and sadly movies I recorded in both MPEG4 and H.264 formats were blocky and poorly detailed, with muted colors.
I tested the CDMA (EV-DO, Rev. A) ZTE Warp on Boost Mobile's network, technically Sprint's, in New York. Voices came through the earpiece very loud and crystal-clear. Callers on the other end also reported that I sounded remarkably clean, warm, and without any distortions. Calls piped though the ZTE Warp's speakerphone, while not booming, also had a satisfying amount of volume.
ZTE Warp call quality sample
Those expecting a high-octane Android fire-breather will not find one in the ZTE Warp's middling specs. The handset is powered by a 1GHz single-core Snapdragon processor and 512MB of RAM, and its Linpack benchmark score of 37.7 (single-core) is underwhelming. Still, I experienced no lag when navigating menus and opening apps.
The phone's slow 3G data connection isn't too exciting either. I logged average download speeds of a low 1.35Mbps with uploads clocking in 0.87Mbps. That's certainly not in the 4G ballpark, which can scorch the airwaves at 15Mbps down and 7Mbps up (Verizon LTE). Still, the Warp's data performance was typical for 3G. In fact, it was faster than the iPhone 4S on Sprint's network (0.45Mbps down, 0.47Mbps up), the same infrastructure Boost Mobile uses.
ZTE makes rather vague claims about the Warp's battery life. The company says it provides a usage time of five days and standby time of nine days and 9 hours. I can verify that the phone definitely has staying power for an Android device, staying powered up for over 24 hours with light use (checking e-mail, making quick calls, and playing audio files).
ZTE's Warp isn't exactly a tech lover's dream. The $199 handset is specced out with mediocre parts, including a camera that won't wow anyone, wrapped in a pretty tame design. Still, the Warp provides all the Android Gingerbread essentials plus enough horsepower to get the job done, if not in style. If you can live with the Warp's pedestrian 3G data speeds, it's a compelling no-contract smartphone option.