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.

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