Orange San Francisco Review – Value Advanced Mobile Phone

Orange San Francisco Review: Released in 2011, the ZTE-made Orange San Francisco was one of the first own-brand Orange handsets which offered a credible alternative to those phones at the top end of the market. The previous phones Orange had released were much more conservative models, with the HTC-looking Orange Stockholm also featuring a touchscreen but at 240 x 320 resolution and 2.8 inches, quite a limited version.

Another boost in the budget models fight was the widespread availability of Android. Previously budget models by the manufacturers were limited to proprietary models, which at best could replicate the look of Apple’s iOS. But with most of these lacking real support from developers, the phones expandability in terms of additional apps was limited. Android thus levelled the playing field altogether, and being available on both higher and lower end phones gave users some real options.

The spec of the San Francisco was much higher than the Stockholm and indeed not too far from the iPhones at the time. We had a high resolution (for a budget phone) screen of 480 x 800 pixels, a 3MP camera and a microSD card slot. It also came with the usual connectivity such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and A-GPS.

Full specifications here.

This phone offered great value for money and was successful. A new San Francisco 2 was released later in the year and improved on the processor, added a flash to the camera and added a front-facing one. The phone also was known generically and could be purchased without the Orange branding as the ZTE Blade.

Orange San Francisco Review Pros:

  • The phone was exceptional value for money. At under £100 there were few that could offer this type of feature set (although they would quickly catch up).
  • An excellent screen was the stand-out feature of the phone. It was multi-touch, not resistive, and at 480 x 800 pixels AMOLED was a very high resolution and offered great depth of colour.
  • Neither was size an issue despite the cheaper price. A plastic construction and high screen-to-body ratio kept size and weight down.
  • The phone featured the latest version of Android and although shipping with Orange branding, could revert back to stock.

Orange San Francisco Review Cons:

  • The camera was the weak spot on the phone. A lower resolution than premium phones at 3.2MP, it also didn’t feature a flash and recorded at low frame rates.
  • There was no front-facing camera on the phone for video calls.
  • Orange filled up the phone with a large number of its own apps – such as its own app store, and pushed these heavily.
  • A single-core processor could struggle with the more advanced apps.

Current Pricing and Future Prospects

This phone has a generic equivalent (ZTE Blade) and the Orange branding adds very little to the value in this case. That being said it was a solid enough performer and a good example of a phone from this area so may be priced fairly modestly.

Where can I get one?

Both Ebay and Amazon have second-hand and refurbished models.

Interested in more phones? See a list of phones I own here.

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