Orange San Francisco/ZTE Blade - Budget Android Rocks!

I recently purchased an Orange San Francisco (ZTE Blade) to prepare for someone who wanted to have a simple Android smartphone set up and ready to use.

The Orange San Francisco is a UK network branded version of the Chinese manufacturer ZTE's Blade Android smartphone. (As is the Dell XCD35 in other parts of the world)

The best source of information for rooting/unlocking and installing custom versions of Android on the Orange San Francisco is the MoDaCo Forum related specifically to the device:
A screenshot of the MoDaCo Forums
Another simpler and more "I'm afraid of computers" resource for customising the device is
A screenshot of
Using the resource on the MoDaCo Forums as soon as I had unboxed the device, I network unlocked it, rooted it and installed ROM Manager. It was then time to say goodbye to Orange's horrible Android 2.1 ROM and apps and hello to a  newer version of Android by Fibblesan called FLB (Faster Lighter Better). I've been a fan of Fibblesan's since he was putting together FLB Mods for the T-Mobile Pulse and would recommend his Android Mods to whoever would like the most stock version of Android possible on a non Google Experience device.

After the FLB Mod was up and running, I installed a few of my favourite apps to make the user experience a little more pleasant. First off it was the Zeam Launcher which is my favourite because of its dock and lightness on system requirements. Then I installed the MIUI Digital Weather Clock. After that was done I installed a theme from the Unified Theme Thread on the MoDaCo forums.

Currently FLB Mod is based on Android 2.2 FroYo, which means it is faster, more responsive and you have the facility to use the WiFi hotspot feature.

For a sub £100 device this is excellent value for money. If you would like a powerful smartphone but don't want to dish out too much cash, I would definitely recommend it. It is easy (and free...) to network unclock and use with any sim card, it has a decent camera and is easily upgradeable and customisable. 

I would like to thank Fibblesan, Frankish and everyone else involved with MoDaCo forums as well as the author of for making the personalisation of this device so relatively easy.

Feel free to post comments/questions. I'll reply asap.