ZTE Optik Review

Introduction and Design

If tablets are going to truly break into the mainstream then the price must come down, plain and simple. The Apple iPad has respectable sales numbers, but its price point puts it out of reach for many and out of the range of a casual splurge purchase. We’ve seen many Android offerings that undercut the iPad, but $400-500 is still asking a lot. Of course there are uber-cheap Android tablets that you can pick up for $100-150, but they are often running an ancient version of the OS with no hope of an upgrade and no official Google Apps. The Amazon Kindle Fire, a heavily-skinned Android tablet, finally broke the $200 mark for a respectable tablet and sales have been strong.  Still, the Kindle Fire has its drawbacks.

ZTE is looking to make a name in the US market, and Sprint is looking to stay relevant in the tablet market since it lost out on the new iPad. Enter the ZTE Optik, a sub-$100 7” tablet on contract that won’t make you laugh when you pick it up (even at full retail the Optik will only set you back $350.) It has a very respectable spec sheet with a 1.2GHz Snapdragon S3 processor, 5MP rear and 2MP front cameras, 1GB of RAM with 16GB of internal memory and a microSD slot for further expansion all running on Android 3.2 Honeycomb. So, is this the magic device that will make tablets ubiquitous? Probably not, but it does promise some decent tablet performance on the cheap. Read on to find out if it can deliver.


The ZTE Optik is a fairly plain but decent-looking 7” tablet. The dark silver and black materials are pretty common, but the Optik puts them together well and the device feels solid in the hand. There is a lot of bezel around the 1280x800 display, but then again this is a $99 tablet. The rear has a pair of hard rubber inserts at the top and bottom which make a wonderful grip when held in landscape. It is a really nice design choice and one of the things that makes the Optik feel more impressive than its price point.

The 7” display is decent, but as you might expect is not top of the line. It washes out a bit in direct light, but not enough where it’s unusable. Despite what we had reported earlier it does have an ambient light sensor for automatic brightness adjustment. Responsiveness was good and we didn’t experience any missed or phantom screen presses.

With so much real estate along the side we would have made the power and volume buttons larger, but they are not too small to be annoying. They could also use a bit more feedback when pressed, but again they have some it just could be better. A bigger gripe is that the power button is placed so high up and close to the volume rocker that you’re often hitting volume up instead of the power when trying to turn on and off the device. The microSD slot is recessed just a touch too far, and those without nails may have minor issues installing and removing cards. We’ve seen too many tablets with a proprietary charging port and the Optik unfortunately continues this trend. For the life of us we can’t figure out why manufacturers who otherwise use microUSB on their handsets can’t incorporate the simple, standard technology into their tablets.

The ZTE Optik gets high marks for design. It is not the best designed tablet out there, it’s not even the best seven incher, but ZTE manages to deliver a high quality experience in a very cheap package. The Optik is well put together with some actual thought behind the design and we don’t anticipate any problems when throwing it in our bag. It is comfortable to hold in both portrait and especially landscape and we really appreciate the rubber “handles.”


The ZTE Optik is running a pretty standard version of Android 3.2 Honeycomb. There are a few customizations, like the navigation buttons, but they are subtle and only experienced Android users will recognize them. All in all the Optik delivers a vanilla Honeycomb experience. Those familiar with an Android handset will find that Honeycomb is similar enough, but there are some differences- such as the app drawer moving to the top- that take some adjustment.

Included apps are pretty light. You’ll find a few Sprint apps like Music, Mobile Wallet and their NASCAR app, as well as TeleNav, DocsToGo and SimCity Deluxe. In the past Sprint has moved to make these extra apps uninstallable, a move we’ve applauded, but on the Optik they’re unfortunately there to stay. With plenty of memory available they are more of nuisance than a problem however.

Processor and Memory:

The ZTE Optik is powered by the same 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3 processor found in the HTC EVO 3D with a generous 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory with microSD expansion. Performance is good, but not great, and Quadrant scores are around 1450 in testing. The Optik may only be $99 on contract, but it has the internals of a higher-end device and with a vanilla version of Android and loads of memory we would have expected it to move a bit quicker.

Internet and Connectivity:

The ZTE Optik is a 3G device, running on Sprint’s EVDO Rev. A network, and can connect via Wi-Fi b/g. GPS and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR are also available. Like we mentioned earlier, the data cable uses a proprietary port so you won’t find any microUSB connections on the Optik.

The browser experience is as you would expect from an Android device.  It had no problems loading phonearena.com and we were able to smoothly zoom in and out either by pinching or double tapping the screen.  We have no gripes with the stock browser and like the Chrome integration, but if it doesn’t suit your needs there are other capable browsers available in the Play Store.

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The 5 megapixel main shooter in the Optik isn't the best. Details are muddy, color reproduction is poor, indoor images especially are grainy and the Optik had issues focusing on macro shots. On top of all that, the shutter speed is painfully slow, taking almost 3 seconds to focus and snap a picture. Videos can thankfully be recorded as high as 720p, but again we just don’t see many people pulling out their tablet to capture a video.  For what it’s worth video quality was decent and plenty good for YouTube, but there was some choppiness here and there as we panned around and switched focus.

ZTE Optik Sample Video:

Battery Life:

ZTE uses a 4000mAh internal battery on the Optik. The only rating they give is for up to 100 hours of standby time, but no usage time is given. In what we’d consider average tablet use the Optik would go at least a few days between charges, but of course that is going to vary based on your usage patterns. It should have plenty juice to get a user through a full day of usage without having to charge.


The ZTE Optik is cheap enough that it falls into the impulse purchase category, and users who drop $99 on the Optik will definitely get their money’s worth. It is a capable tablet that will perform all the basic tasks without issue, but if you’re expecting more than average from a tablet the Optik is not for you. The entry-level price point and quality hardware make the Optik a good everyday tablet, even at the $350 off-contract price for those who don’t want a data plan. It is not for the power users, but it is for the average Joe and that is exactly what Sprint and ZTE are going for.

Android 3.2
Build V55V1.1.0B08

ZTE Optik Review:


  • Good build quality
  • Fast processor with lots of memory
  • Cheap, both on and off contract


  • Sluggish performance at times
  • No 4G connectivity
  • Camera performance is lacking

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

5 Reviews

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