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So ZTE it is

Some weeks ago I posted about the long-expected demise of my old phone. And even given I don’t usually don’t pay much attention to phones (and could care less about the smartphone fad), I asked for a recommendation here on what to change to.

The only thing that made me look for something other than a ~US$15 phone is that I enjoy having a GPS-enabled device. So, with that in mind, I went to my carrier’s offices, with a top budget of MX$2,000 (~US$150), and asked for help. After being a Telcel subscriber for ~10 years (and ~6 with the same device), even though I use prepaid cards only (and seldom pay over MX$100 a month), I expected some advice. So, when the employee told me to go to the phone exhibit they have and pick my favorite, I declined, by telling I just want the cheapest unit with a GPS. He almost immediately offered me the ZTE V791, an Android 2.3-based unit, for MX$990 (~US$75), just around half of what I expected to pay. So I got two - One for myself, one for Regina, as her previous “nice” phone died under the Bosnian rain and had one of the sturdy, reliable but utterly boring US$15 phones for over a year ;-) As a new Mexican resident, she can surely use a GPS as well! (and some other tools in it). So, two nice phones, and still (squarely!) in my projected budget!

I did give some thought to the comments posted in my original post, but given I don’t want to bite in to the tendency too much, I let price determine what we get. And after all, I do not plan to ever enable data over the phone network (if at all, I use it on wifi). A recommendation for people with similar profiles/interest than me: Maps with me allows for downloading OpenStreetMap data on a country basis (so I get all of Mexico with me). I also got Vespucci OSM Editor, to be able to do OpenStreetMap updates from the phone, but given it has some stability issues I have not used it much (and it’s understandably not so disconnected-mode-friendly)

Not much more to add to this. I am writing this prompted by Russell’s “iPhone vs. Android” post. My point after getting these two cheap phones? Having a wide range of devices under this same OS (even if it still has long ways to go freedom-wise) makes it a choice for people like me, who don’t want to save money for a couple of months in order to get the newest gadget. I hope this phone lasts with me several years as well, without changing my usage pattern!


Anand Kumria 2013-02-26 07:58:51

Firefox OS / antispam filter

[ comment sent by mail as the spam filter nuked it; reposted by site admin ]

” Blogspam checker has blocked this post due to: SPAM:No reverse DNS entry for”

It is not like I can do anything about what my ISP chooses to do / not do.

Obviously you have heard of these phones, but it is a shame that the timeframe these become available (~3 months) didn’t fit when you needed them.

But next time, try a Firefox OS phone!

The ability for anyone to write an app., with no market restrictions is a blessing.

The fact that it is (apart from radio CPU from what I understand) entirely available in source form but still good is even better.

Note: I actually did a whois search for this email address. Presumably other people won’t bother (myself included) next time.

It is useful to put in a hurdle for spammers but forcing my ISP to be clueful isn’t good.

CArsten 2013-02-22 22:48:13

Try Link2SD if you are low on RAM

Wife and kid have a cheap Android 2.3 phone now and one of the most dire short-comings IMHO are they have very little RAM and if you install apps from Play, they suck at saving this.

Rather sooner than later, you might want to look into that. App2SD helps somewhat, but being Linux underneath, I’d rather recommend Link2SD if you are willing to “root” the phone - or use a superuser app. You will need a SD card with a secondary primary partition (ext2 should be just find, newer phones can go with ext4 as well) and the app will copy stuff from RAM to the second partition and just place symlinks to the card. Everything is a file FTW ;)


Fabian Rodriguez 2013-02-22 13:15:30


I’d suggest trying OSMAnd too, it includes nice routing in addition to downloadable maps per country - and it’s free open source software. It’s available as an APK directly or via the F-Droid manager:

gwolf 2013-02-22 09:10:13

Thanks for the pointer :)

I don’t expect to really use it, as I pretend to stick to my strategy (go for the cheapest). But yes, it is a good pointer.

I (think I) didn’t mention in the post — Something that is somewhat striking to me is that new phones (such as this model, released just in late 2012!) are still being built and made for older Android releases. Of course it makes sense (no need to push for the fastest video card FWIW). This should be also the case in the “regular” computing area. And, of course, this is another area where Apple will never yield. Their phones are not just a fad but a fashion product. They won’t allow a lesser one in their lineup!

gwolf 2013-02-26 08:02:35

Two recommendations already!

I’ll take a look at it, thanks!

gwolf 2013-02-26 08:15:57

Thanks for pushing this by mail.

First of all: Grr… Thanks for pushing the post through, I’m relaying it… And, of course, I’m answering both here and on by mail.

I am using two antispam measures on the blog: One is that awful captcha that sometimes a proper human won’t understand. The other one is Blogspam, an “intelligent” post evaluator that checks for spammy giveaways - Yes, one of such measures is checking reverse DNS. Another one is a URL to text ratio. I think it also does some blacklist checking. Overall, it’s not perfect, and has both false positives and false negatives… But I’m willing to cope with it. And yes, I’m sorry it raises false positives. And I’m sorry you were powerless to change that. But the flood of spam I was getting made me consider the alternative: just shutting the comments system altogether.

As for the FirefoxOS thing: Yes, I’d completely love to. Only two points: First is, I don’t understand all of this this app market thingies. They just do not make sense. The phones could implement (in order to guarantee decent response times and disconnected operation) a Web framework, and all of the UI interaction be done with a browser.

But anyway, it is not existant yet, and I am not sure whether it will become a viable platform. I am not interested in a smart phone, and am sure my usage will converge to what I had (a phone I seldom use packed together with a GPS I use quite often), so… no remorse :-)

MP 2013-02-23 08:54:40


OsmAnd is another nice OSM-based app, good for offline usage. And this one is Free.

I never used MapsWithMe so cannot say how they compare.

Siddharta Buda 2013-02-22 08:35:01

GSM Arena, lots of information about mobile phones

Hi Gunnar:

I’m late to the party, but perhaps in the future this website will help to review mobile phones information:

I like it not only because of how the technical specifications are displayed, but also because of the comments and opinions found at the bottom. I change my phone about every 2 or 3 years, and the site has been really helpful to me. I did not find the model you bought, but I found the V790, which I guess is very similar to the V791 you now own: