October 18, 2016

ZTE Citrine (Z717VL/Z716BL) Review - Tracfone Smartphone

Review of the  Tracfone ZTE Citrine Android Smartphone

This review of the ZTE Citrine is created by TracfoneReviewer. We have many more full reviews on our Cell Phone Reviews page.

zte citrine z717vl z716bl review
Full Review of ZTE Citrine

The ZTE Citrine is a small, inexpensive Android phone available from Tracfone for either CDMA or GSM networks that actually packs many similar features and specs found in larger, more expensive devices.

Is this phone the best smartphone from Tracfone for under $50? We will answer that, and share the full specs, features, and details about this phone. We will also give our review, and where to buy this phone at the best price.

Tracfone has been releasing a large number of budget smartphones during 2016 including many ZTE, LG and Samsung devices. You can catch up on what phones are coming out or already released by checking out our posts on New LG and Samsung Tracfone Smartphones and New ZTE, Alcatel and Huawei (Nexus 6P) Tracfone Smartphones.

With the Citrine, the main feature is the low cost, but there are some other good things about this phone. Let's take a look at our quick pro's and con's for the Citrine.

ZTE Citrine Quick Facts

The Good:
-Recent OS - Android 5.1.1
-Low cost - Available for $50, and even $30 some places
-Quad-Core Processor
-CDMA and GSM versions of the phone available

The not so Good
-Small Screen - 4"
-Low Internal Memory - 8 GB
-Low RAM - 1 GB

One of he key features on this phone is that it is very inexpensive, and yet comes with the relatively recent Android 5.1.1 OS which we see mostly on phones that cost twice as much or more.

Another great point to note is that there is a GSM version of this phone and a CDMA version. Just make sure you know which version works in your area (more about this below).

Of course the Citrine can't compete in performance, appearance, or functionality with devices like the Apple iPhone 6 Plus now available from Tracfone, or other high end devices, but it also doesn't have the $500 plus price tag.

Let's take a look at the full features and specs for this smartphone.

ZTE Citrine (Z717VL/716BL) Features and Specs

Below are the features for the smartphone, followed by the technical specs.
  • Android 5.1.1 OS (Lollipop)
  • Z717VL version is 4G LTE capable using Verizon network towers
  • Z716BL version is 4G HSPA+ capable using AT&T network towers
  • Wifi and Bluetooth
  • Access to over 1 Million Apps on Google Play
  • Alarm Clock
  • MP3 Player
  • GPS
  • 3 Home Screens
  • Handsfree Speaker
  • Voice Dialing
  • Caller ID, Voicemail, SMS, MMS
  • Proximity and Accelerometer sensor
  • 3.5mm headphone connection
  • Hearing Aid Compatible
ZTE Citrine Specs
  • Size: 4.92" x 2.56" x 0.41"
  • Screen: 4.0" touchscreen with 800x480 resolution (TFT-LCD)
  • 1.1 Ghz Quad-core Processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 210)
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB Internal Memory plus Micro SD Card slot (up to 32 GB)
  • 1650 mAh Battery with Talk Time 12 Hrs, Standby 10 days.
Many of these features and specs are very similar to Tracfone's other devices such as the LG Rebel or Samsung Galaxy Core Prime. However, the Citrine is available at a much lower price. The main difference in the Citrine from many of Tracfone's other recent smartphones is the smaller screen size.

If you notice the battery capacity, it is small, but this phone only has a 4" screen so it doesn't drain the battery as fast as phones with larger screens.

Let's get into our full review of the Citrine.

Tracfone ZTE Citrine Review

What we Like:
There's a lot of good features on this phone, specifically Android 5.1.1, 4G speeds, Quad-core processor and the low cost.

tracfone zte citrine review
Front, back and side of the ZTE Citrine - Note the textured back, and side charger port 
Android 5.1.1 is a fairly recent version of the operating system, and generally newer is better when it comes to Android. With each new version, any bugs or security risks are usually fixed, and new features are added. For various reasons, Android phones from Tracfone do not receive OS updates, so whatever version they come with is what they will stay with. Tracfone has just released two Samsung smartphones with Android 6.0, but most of their phones use 5.1.1 or older.

The Citrine comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor that has four cores, and runs at 1.1 Ghz. With this processor, the Citrine is capable of 4G LTE speeds, and has pretty good responsiveness. It is limited by the RAM, which we will mention more about further on. Basically, in a phone this cheap, it still has reasonably good performance.

Lastly, the price is what will likely draw most of the attention to this phone. It is listed most places for $50, but also available for $30 in a variety of locations, including online. $30 is a great price for this phone.

We also want to remind our readers that there are two versions of the Citrine, one with GSM capability, the other with CDMA capability. So it is available to all Tracfone users, but make sure you get the correct version for your service area.

What we Don't Like
There are some drawbacks about this phone that we want to share so that you can make your own informed decision about buying this device.

First of all, the Citrine has limited internal memory and only 1 GB RAM. Many of Tracfone's smartphones share the same limitations. While it has 8 GB internal memory, only about 2-3 GB is actually usable, depending on which pre-installed apps you keep/update. Because of the low amount of memory and RAM, you won't be able to load very many apps on this phone, and running multiple apps at once will cause the phone to slow down and possibly freeze. This phone is best for calling and texting, and a handful of basic apps like Instagram and Google Maps.

Here is some additional helpful information relating to the internal memory, from one of our readers, KRR:
        The total space I see is 8.00GB, System Memory takes up 4.69GB and after updating the variety of apps that are mandatory and adding in apps like The Weather Channel, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Zedge, Google Photos, Tracfone and a couple smaller apps for work I am left with 1.75GB available.  Not too shabby all things considered.  The Facebook app is a storage hog, so I opted to uninstall it and just access Facebook from the Chrome browser and use Facebook Messenger (since Facebook is staunchly against us accessing our Facebook messages via a browser on a mobile device).  I do recommend going in and clearing the cache often (Storage>Used Space>Cached Data). 
The ZTE Citrine also has a small screen, just 4", which for some is a good thing, and for others a negative. If you're not sure what size screen you prefer, try visiting a Bestbuy, or other electronics store, and test different smartphones. For many, a screen size between 5" and 5.5" is preferred as it makes for easier viewing of videos, messages and everything else.

Camera quality isn't great either on the Citrine, which shouldn't be a surprise at this price point. The rear camera has 5 MP and is adequate for capturing moments as long as there is good light, but the front camera, with only 0.3 MP, will struggle in anything other than good lighting.

Finally, the quality of this ZTE phone is good, but nothing like a high-end smartphone. With most things in life, you get what you pay for, and the same is true for the Citrine. It does have a nice textured back, but it is made from plastic.

Some readers have experienced issues with the quality of ZTE phones, such as the ZTE Quartz, and ZTE Valet. If you experience issues, we suggest contacting the retailer you bought the phone from, or contacting Tracfone. We have not heard any complaints about the quality of the Citrine, but will update as more information becomes available.

Now that we've covered our pro's and con's for the CItrine, we want to answer the question, is this the best phone from Tracfone for under $50? Well, probably. A lot depends on what you're looking for in a phone, and if you're looking to use a variety of apps, you will likely be better off with a more robust smartphone.

That concludes our review of the ZTE Citrine. We will share some additional information, and where to buy the phone.

ZTE Citrine Overview and Where to Buy

The Citrine is a very budget friendly smartphone that is best for those who want to use it for calling/texting and occasional web browsing, email and other basic apps. It will likely struggle at running any apps that are resource intensive, like certain newer games.

This phone is most similar to the LG Lucky, also available from Tracfone. However, the Citrine is an improvement over the lucky in almost every way, with better processor, more memory, better camera, larger screen and more.

You can find the ZTE Citrine available from many retailers including Walmart (GSM version, or here is the CDMA version), Target, Bestbuy, and more.

The Citrine can be found online from many of the same retailers, and also on the Tracfone website.

Some retailers have the phone listed for $50, while others have it discounted at $30, including the Tracfone website and Walmart.

You can take a look at the ZTE Citrine interactive tutorial for help using and navigating the phone.

We hope this review is helpful and let us know in the comments below if you have any further questions.

Be sure to visit our Guide to Activating or Transferring Service on a Tracfone Smartphone for some helpful tips and info.

If you're new to Tracfone smartphones, or just like to know how many minutes you have, visit our post on 4 Ways to Check your Tracfone Airtime Balance on a Smartphone

We recently compared several of the latest LG phones from Tracfone and shared the results. Take a look at our LG Smartphone Comparison, with the LG Rebel, Treasure, Premier and Stylo 2.

Join us on Facebook where we share our latest posts, and have a great group of followers who help answer questions.

Catch up on the latest new Smartphones plus great deals and discounts on Tracfone devices in our last post.

Thanks for visiting!


HOODY said...

I'm glad to see this review, I looked at this one myself, mainly because for one thing I'm not some Cell addict, I only been into this cell phone craze for a year and a d with a LG840G,($15) a java based OS, and moved to the LG 34C,($10) a kit kat OS, now I have a LG Lucky ($0) which was a replacement sent for a bad 34C, which is OK for what I do.

Although I'm able to afford a more expensive phone, I really wouldn't get much more use than I am now out of it, all I do is make a few calls a month, maybe a few texts, and some data use, I always have more min/text/data left over after adding the triple play 20 dollar card every 90 days than I have time to use even that, so spending $$$ doesn't make a lot of sense to me (I wish TF would just sell a discounted "service time" card).

I do however know that "specs" have meaning in the electronic world, I've built several machines in the past as I was learning all about PC's and even now am constantly being asked to "repair" broken PC's and laptops, so yes I know more "ram and CPU power" is better than less, but for now a phone is still that, "a phone" to me, and the only reason I even bothered educating myself on these things is because you can't even find a pay phone anymore if you need to call and are out on the road.

So, thanks for this review. I'd like to hear from people that actually have it and use it.

BTW these are on sale at Dollar stores for 20 bucks :). I bet by black Friday you'll see them for 10 bucks :), just the right price to "test drive" the thing and not worry about it. And at these prices there's really no reason for anybody not to use a "smartphone" over the java based ones.

Disgruntled College Grad said...

I had considered getting the Citrine and was patiently waiting for the price drop. Instead I got the ATT goPhone ZTE Maven, same spec with the exception of the larger 4.5" screen. I don't have a lot of apps and use an SD Card for pics/vids/music. It can last all day with normal usage. You can use a goPhone with your Tracfone sim just by putting the sim card in. You should unlock it first, I was impatient and just started using it without unlocking; works fine.
The Maven has the Snapdragon 400 instead of the 210 so it runs at 1.2Ghz and the battery is 2100mha. Screen size is larger but same resolution, to me it's easier to read.
Bestbuy had the ZTE ZMax 2 on sale, another goPhone, for $50. Even better with 2Gb RAM and 16Gb storage; I went and unlocked it and she has been using it for about a month now, I wish I would have waited for that phone.

HOODY said...

Yeah I like a 4.5" screen the best, its just big enough but not so big to be a pain to handle.

That ZTE Zmax 2 is quite a deal for 50 bucks, the specs on it are really good for a phone at that price, I'm not sure if its because ZTE isn't doing all that well as sales go, but this one for 50 bucks should sell well

I'd like to see one with the same specs but with a 4.5 screen for that price :) I don't know why phone makers seem to think everybody only wants a bigger phone that's built better.

Anonymous said...

I have been using the LG Ultimate 2 for a year, with no problems.
Would like the Citrine, only for the 4g LTE (CDMA).
Anybody compare the Data speeds (Verizon)?

HOODY said...

I told you :)... see my 1st post :)

Trac ZTE Citrine - $30 (TMFL)(On Sale for $10)

Nancy Mills said...

If you go online to add minutes to your phone, at the end of your transaction you can add a year's worth of service time for $50. I have a ton of minutes on my phone so I buy a 30 minute card (triples to 90 minutes) which is the smallest one they offer and then add the year's service time at the end. This is ONLY OFFERED ONLINE.

Anonymous said...

Regarding comment on just purchasing airtime - on Tracfone website I purchase the 60 min / 90 day card for $19.99 and when checking out have the option to purchase 365 days for $49.99. I don't use many minutes / texts either.

Anonymous said...

Just bought a CDMA ZTE Citrine at Family Dollar for $20. Sale price good thru 12/31/16

Minister T said...

Gerbes for $9.99 bought 2 yesterday. Good thru Dec 31,2016. With Gerbes card.

Minister T said...

Gerbes grocery store has the ZTE Citrine for $9.99. No joke bought 2. Just need free Gerbes card. Good thru 12/31/2016.

Anonymous said...

The phone has 8 GB internal storage. When I press the MOVE TO SD card button, It CLAIMS it moved but only my internal memory changes, NOT the SD card memory- it stays the same. So it's not really moving, maybe it has a second unacceptable internal partition but it is definitely NOT moving to the SD card. Even when I use MOVE t o SD apps. Anyone else same problem? Do I have 2 ROOT?

Anonymous said...

just 1 question. does the zte citrine have a flash with the rear camera?

Anonymous said...

There is a flash on the rear camera. Not a strong flash, but good enough for a close portrait shot in a dark room.

Has anyone been able to use this phone with any astronomy applications, which need a directional input (a compass function)?

Tz said...

I added a sim card to this phone, hoping to be able to add more apps. I have messenger, overdrive, and now do not have room for HBO now. Why doesn't the card help add more apps?

Colleen said...

As a senior, I don't want, or need, a lot of bells and whistles so I have the Citrine Z716BL model. I've had it for about 3 years and it's sufficient for me. I live in NW AZ and there's not much choice for carriers that will get reception everywhere. We've had to get new Sim cards a couple times because of the reception changes. However, we get better reception at our house, which is about 20 miles from town, than what our kids get with their Sprint phones (they had Sprint in CA and kept their plan when they moved to AZ).

That being said...I've recently tried to get a Tracfone for my husband and cannot because they are not activating new phones in my area! What??? I can't even upgrade my phone with them. I will keep my ZTE until it quits working with Tracfone.

Juan Castro said...

Bought 2 phones for my nieces and it’s total crap ; phone keeps searching to activate —- 45 mins and still searching signal

Garden Gal said...

Love my ZTE Citrine LTE 4G but am out of memory. Being a Senior citizen, I don't need nor even know what those apps are that come preinstalled, so went to uninstall a couple of them. Immediately got a message from Google saying that if I uninstall these apps, the other apps MAY NOT work as they should as all Google stuff is related.

Does anyone know if this is really true or just a scare tactic to keep you from installing Google's stuff??? Thanks!