Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE -v- ZTE KIS – battle of the smart phones

zte kisA smart phone is a must have for most of us, gone are the days when its ok for your phone to just do what a phone should do, and make calls! Now we expect to be able to surf the net, take brilliant pictures, play games, watch videos, connect instantly with friends and keep the all important social media up to date; and of course it must do all those mobile phone basics of making a call and texting.


Since Samsung first released their Galaxy, it has been one of the most popular Android sets about, with some fairly frequent and decent updates, despite Apple's protestations that the Galaxy is a rip-off iPhone, consumers have taken to them in huge numbers.

With 4G coming the Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE was a chance for Samsung to release a new handset with 4G capabilities, with a little bit of extra updating and upgrading. The SIII LTE is available free with EE contracts (the only company currently going to be offering 4G), and is about £365.00 if you want to dip your hand in your pocket to purchase.

On the other side of the spectrum, is the ZTE KIS, which is probably the cheapest smart phone hand set out there, retailing on pay as you go with Virgin Media for £49.99.

Two smart phones, two prices, two sides of the spectrum, but is the Samsung worth the £365 and the reputation? Is the ZTE a dark horse waiting to take over?

We have test driven both phones and then compared them…..


When I grabbed the KIS my first impression was that it does feel lightweight (120g) and yes, a little plasticky, but it also feels sturdy and well made and I rather like the small lip at the bottom where the mic is. The on – off button is on the top, volume rocker on the side and there are four touch sensitive buttons below the screen: Menu, Home, Back and Search which all work very well but I could see the lack of back lighting on these causing problems using the KIS in the dark (although mystically these seem backlit at sometimes but not others!).

The OS is Android Gingerbread (2.3.6) which isn't upgradable, and ZTE haven't done much customisation to complicate things, and all in all the OS works fairly slickly, there are initially seven screens, and the Apps drawer is rather smart meaning you know where you are at all times and can easily locate the apps you use the most. The KIS is very easy to use and navigate. Making a call is as easy as on any smart phone. Texting is a standard affair. The Touchpal keyboard on the KIS is most definitely one of the better things about this phone, and the first time smart phone user struggling with a touch screen keyboard should find this keyboard pretty easy to get used to, and because ZTE have kept their customisation of the Android system to a minimum (mainly being cosmetic), anyone who has used a Android smart phone should find the phone easy to use out of the box, and I admit I haven't actually opened the quick start guide supplied!

Out of the box the KIS comes pretty well kitted out –

  • Phone (well duh!);
  • Charger;
  • USB Cable;
  • Headphones; and 
  • a less than meaty, but certainly acceptable 2GB microSD card.

The phone comes with a 3.2MP rear camera which is a good, but not great.

The best bit about the KIS for the money is the 3.5 inch HVGA TFT 320×480 resolution screen, its very responsive and definitely bright enough to use outdoors, its good enough to watch YouTube videos, play games, email and text. The viewing angle does let is down, but bearing in mind the cost of the phone its not surprising.

Being Android you of course have access to Google Play, and apps download and install pretty easily on the KIS, I within a short time had the phone kitted out with everything I consider to be essential!

Whilst you do get what you pay for, I think the ZTE KIS offers great value for money, it a usable, well designed smart phone which delivers all you need, making it a great choice for those looking to get on the smart phone wagon, or simply if you are budget conscious, looking for a durable phone which "does exactly what it says on the tin".

Samsung SIII LTE

After grumbling about the KIS feeling a little plasticky imagine my surprise when I realised the back of the SIII LTE (in titanium), is a really very thin plasticky plastic! If you are anything like me, and make a habit of dropping your phone at least a few times a day, a cover is going to be needed, cos that shell ain’t gonna last a two year contract in the hands of a butter fingers!

The LTE is fast, and I love that, I am highly impatient and hate waiting for processes. The SIII LTE runs Jellybean (and of course is upgradable), which leaves the Ice Cream Sandwich'ers a little in its wake! Its slick and easy to use. No stuttering or waiting, everything you want to do on the SIII LTE is quick and slick, but I think that is more down to the use of the much improved Jellybean OS than anything Samsung have done. But saying that Samsung's tweaks and customisation of the SIII LTE is noticeable and usable. Their TouchWiz skin overlay is well thought out and intuitive, extremely easy to use, and as an Android old guard, I was using this phone out of the box without the need to turn manual pages! Samsung do have a range of apps and widgets some of which are more helpful than others (the ability for example to use the Dropbox cloud service is rather swanky).

The LTE offers you 16GB of storage, and a slot for a SD card (although no SD card is supplied in the box).

Samsung's Galaxy's have always stood out due to their screen size, and the LTE is a big 4.8 inch screen of HD loveliness! But what it boasts in length, it cannot claim to do in girth, the SIII LTE has a very slim depth of only 8mm! The AMOLED screen is a bright delight, and at a lovely 720 x 1,280 pixels the screen no complaints can be made about the resolution.

With a nice 8 megapixel camera you can capture images with digital camera quality.

I purposefully haven’t mentioned the 4G capabilities of the SIII LTE as I don’t have 4G where I live and am not sure when I will. I certainly would not at the current time bother getting a phone specifically for the 4G capabilities. The battery on the SIII LTE is a bit annoyingly poor, and part of the reason for this must be the added 4G capabilities, as the battery hasn’t changed since the SIII previous iterations.

I admit, I love the SIII LTE, I have previously been slightly turned off by the Galaxy, due to its screen size. But after a very short time using the SIII LTE I loved having the extra size, which in no way detracts from doing the thing phones are designed to do – make a phone call.

The Comparison

Comparing these two on some levels is a little like comparing a race horse to a child's pony, but as with so much, it depends what you are looking for, and how much you want to spend.

The ZTE KIS is a perfectly serviceable smart phone, you can do everything you need to do, and more, whereas the Samsung is a smooth slick delight of a smart phone.

If you want a good phone, are not too bothered about who makes it, and fancy having a go at some apps and finding out what the Smart Phone hullabaloo is all about the ZTE KIS will suit you perfectly. For parents looking for a durable and cost effective solution the ZTE KIS will suit them perfectly, or if you are very simply on a budget and want a smart phone on pay-as-you-go then the ZTE KIS may not light up your heart with a passion, but it will do the job and do it well.

The Samsung when offered free is a little bit of golden delight! Its fast, its slick, it looks good, it can be flashed about happily in the best of company! If you currently have a HTC, an iPhone or a Galaxy and are looking for a nice new shiny new upgrade, then the Samsung SIII LTE will do you proud (and once 4G is up and running in most of the country will be your portal to the promised lightning fast speeds).

The Technical Stuff




Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE


Black or White

Titanium or White


114.3mm x 61.6mm x 11.5mm

70.6 x 136.6 x 8.6mm


120 grams

131 grams


TFT WVGA 3.5" (480×320)

6M HD SUPER AMOLED (1280 x 720)


3.2MP, 2x Digital Zoom

8MP, auto focus

Video Capture

640×480, 15 FPS

Full HD Video Recording and playing

Operating System

Android 2.3

Android v4.1.1


MSM 7225A-0  800M

1.4GHz Quad Core Processor

Phone Memory

512MB Flash+256MB RAM expandable


Micro SD 32G

Built-in Memory: 16GB (RAM: 2GB)


Micro SD card (up to 64GB)


400 mAh, 250 Hours Standby, 240 Hours Talktime

Talk time: up to 16 hrs (2G), 11 hrs (3G)

Standby time: up to 580 hrs (2G), 510 hrs (3G), 390 hrs (LTE)


MP3, FM Radio, 32 Ringtones

MP3 / AAC / ACC+ / e-AAC+ / WMA / WAV / MIDI / OGG / FLAC