The Good The AT&T R225 is a petite, attractive phone with admirable call quality and a rock-bottom price.
The Bad A small screen and a confused speaker are a bummer, but the lack of Bluetooth and a volume rocker is the biggest disappointment of R225.
The Bottom Line As long as you never have cause to use it hands-free, the AT&T R225 will reward you with good call quality. Yet, the absent volume rocker makes it best-suited for occasional callers.
Visit for details.
AT&T R225 – GoPhone
ZTE may shroud its identity in the branding of the AT&T R225, but the cell phone manufacturer is indeed behind this AT&T prepaid GoPhone. ZTE has a history of making tall, slim cell phones, like the ZTE C79 and the Agent , and the R225 fits right into the profile. Its petite body, combined with very good call quality and a rock-bottom $14.99 price tag without a contract, keeps the AT&T R225 in the running for an entry-level phone. However, several oversights–the lack of a volume rocker among them–makes the R225 suited for calls and other light use.
The R225 is a black and bright silver with silver accents that help it look much more premium than it is. At 4.2 inches tall, 1.8 inches wide and 0.5 inches thick, the R225 fits into small hands and feels comfortable on the ear and arm, thanks to a partially soft touch on the back. At 2.9 ounces, it’s also fairly easy without feeling wise.
The AT&T R225 is slim, stylish, and portable.
The 1.825-inch R225 screen is disappointing. Of course, this is small enough to mask the low resolution of 128×160 pixels (262,000 colors), which is so bright but blurry around the edges. A simple menu selection grid and keyboard key options help you navigate, so it’s easy to get around. Also useful are hardware navigation buttons R225. Unlike the awkwardly assembled ZTE agent, R225 provides soft keys and room-breathing Talk and End buttons. We had no problems with the four-sided pad and center selection button. Likewise, the buttons with the illumination of the dial keys were spacious and quite responsive. There are common buttons for switching your phone to vibration and screen lock. Although they are separated, the keys are too close to type consecutively.
In terms of external features, ZTE has taken on a new level of savings. The only deviation you’ll see on the other smooth perimeter is the Micro-USB charging port. There is no camera on the back, only an external speaker. Although many cell phone owners can live without the usually grainy quality of low-end cameras, we cannot understand why ZTE has decided to leave the volume rocker, which should be the standard component for any phone today. You can also adjust the volume of the call using the navigation switch.
The R225’s feature set is on the lean side, but is more padded than we first expected. The address book holds 1,000 entries and has room for multiple phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and a URL. You can assign a photo and calling group to a contact, and can also assign one of 11 ringtones, plus a ringtone from a file stored on the phone. Since there’s no SD card support for transferring your own music, you’ll need to download additional ringtones from AT&T’s online store to expand your options.
Fixed assets R255 include alarm clock, calendar, calculator, to-do list and stopwatch. International travelers will appreciate the currency converter and world clock. There is also an audio recorder.
Although not strictly necessary for phones of this type, most of them are. It’s unfortunate that it’s not there, to be honest, since the ability to speak freely by hand while driving is an opportunity we would expect to see on most modern phones. This would be another selling point in favor of the ultra-simple R225.
Texting is the communication king on the R225. You may be surprised to see downloadable services for mobile e-mail. Yahoo, AOL, Windows Live Hotmail, and Gmail, are all included, and you can set up service for other Web mail clients. A subscription will cost you $5 per month, plus data charges. Typing out e-mails on a numeric dial pad is cumbersome, even with predictive text turned on, but we still embrace the fact that AT&T made e-mail an option. There’s also instant messaging with Yahoo Messenger, AIM, Windows Live Messenger, an AT&T Mobile Care app, and downloadable apps for mobile banking and the weather, to name two more of the carrier’s contributions.
Apart from the Micro-USB charging port, the ZTE cell phone has no other external buttons or sockets.
AT&T also included a browser. Because of the R225’s display size, the mobile Web isn’t a good choice for surfing heavy Web sites. It took about 15 seconds to load CNET’s basic mobile-optimized site over the 2.5G data network, and navigation was difficult on such a small screen. Even so, we’re glad to see the browser.
Since the R225 really is focused on making calls, you won’t find a camera or a music player. That’s not necessarily a problem if you’re looking for an inexpensive handset for vocal communications. The 8MB internal memory should be sufficient. Those looking for a more customized experience can skip over to AT&T’s online storefront to purchase wallpaper, games, and ringback tones.
We tested the dual-band (GSM 850/1900) AT&T R225 in San Francisco using AT&T’s network. Call quality was impressive on our end–clear, but not crystal clear. We heard only occasional digital interruptions, and even then they were subtle. Voices sounded true and volume was fine, though perhaps on the low end. Our callers agreed with volume and voice quality. They noted we were understandable and they didn’t have to strain to hear us as they have for other phones before.
Unfortunately, the loudspeaker volume was almost non-existent. The R225 only gave a whisper and a squeal of sound from the external speaker. We had to hang up and try again to prove that yes. Subscribers at the other end of the line assured us that it was. They said they heard a lot of white noise and the volume of the voice doubled when we turned on the loudspeaker.
The R225 has a rated battery life of 5.3 hours of talk time and up to 15 days of standby time. Talk time in test mode is 4 hours 56 minutes. He measured a digital SAR of 0.8 watts per kilogram in FCC radiation tests.