Zanco Tiny T1 phone review

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REVIEW – Are you tired of carrying around a smartphone that can double as a piece of workout equipment because it’s so large and heavy? Then you need to take a look at the Zanco Tiny T1 phone. And when I say it’s tiny, I’m not kidding. Just ask G.I. Joe.

What is it?

The Zanco Tiny T1 phone is an insanely small phone that looks like a toy but it’s a real working phone that will work with your existing GSM SIM card for carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile. Sorry, Verizon and Sprint customers, you’ll not be able to use this phone.

What’s in the box?

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Zanco Tiny T1 phone
Silicone cover
micro USB charging cable
Reset tool
Neck lanyard
User manual

Hardware specs

Frequency – GSM850 / GSM900 / DCS1800 / PCS1900
Nano SIM
Memory – Flash -32RAM +32ROM
Display – OLED
Phonebook memory – 300
Memory for SMS – 50
Battery – 200 mAh
Size – 46.7mm x 21mm x 12mm
Weight – 13 grams

Design and features

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You really can’t believe how small the Zanco is until you hold one in your hand. It will fit in any pocket you have, including that little watch pocket in your jeans.

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For another size reference, here’s the phone next to an SD card.

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The phone has a shiny black plastic shell with a small backlit white on black OLED display and a full number pad below it along with call answer and end buttons, a four-way navigation button in the center, and two other menu buttons on either side. The design is a throwback to the candy bar style phones from years ago.

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On the back of the phone, you’ll find the speaker at the top and a microphone at the bottom.

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On the bottom edge of the Tiny T1 is a micro USB port that is used to charge the phone.

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On the right side is a flexible cover that protects the nano SIM card slot.

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I tested the phone with the T-mobile SIM card that I use in my Pixel 2 XL and the card fit perfectly with a satisfying spring loaded click.

Did the Zanco Tiny T1 phone survive my 21-year-old Gadgeteer squeeze test? Surprisingly yes it did. Although it was tough to actually squeeze something so tiny. Even though this phone looks like a toy, it isn’t going to break if you breathe on it. I bet it wouldn’t break even if it was thrown across the room. I’m not going to test that theory though.

Using the Zanco to make and receive calls

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The user interface is as basic as it gets. There’s a signal strength meter in the upper left corner and a battery status icon in the right corner with one and a half lines for other info below that.

The Tiny T1 doesn’t have iOS or Android, so you can’t just say Hey Google or Hey Siri, call Jeanne at work and have it call the desired number. It does have a phonebook but good luck trying to add new numbers or access numbers that you’ve added using the tiny keys on this phone. Yes, it’s doable, but just barely.

Once you do end up calling out or receiving a call, the call quality is ok. Just don’t accidentally swallow it while you’re talking to someone 😉

And remember, this phone only uses 2G GSM, so you’ll need coverage in your area. It should also go without saying that you won’t be running Fortnite on this phone or accessing the internet with it.

Using the Zanco to make and receive SMS messages

If making a call with this little guy is tough, reading and sending SMS messages will make your eyes cross when reading them from the itty bitty display. The messages display in a ticker tape vertical scroll when you first receive them and that might make you antsy if you’re like me and want to quickly read the message. But replying using the tiny keyboard is brutally painful in a “oh my goodness these keys are tiny” kind of way. You’ll have to go back to the days of pressing a number key several times to get the right letter to build words. But again, it’s doable – if you want to do it.

What I like

  • Cute as a button
  • Fun little backup phone when you absolutely only need to be able to make and receive calls and nothing else

What needs to be improved

  • Make it bigger? Nah!

Final thoughts

I had a lot of fun with the Zanco Tiny T1 phone. But the fun wasn’t in using it to make and receive calls and texts. The fun was putting it in my pocket, going up to a friend and asking them to call me and then watching their face when the phone would ring and I would take it out of my pocket to answer it. It always got a laugh and “no way” comments. Most people also wanted to take a picture of it. So the novelty factor of this phone is very high. The fact that it actually works and can be used as a phone is also pretty cool. Would I use this as a backup phone? Nope. But if I want a tool to make people smile, I know just the one to use.

Price: $65.99
Where to buy: eBay
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Zini Mobile Ltd.

21 thoughts on “Zanco Tiny T1 phone review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. I bought mine in Rymans (a UK retail store) for just over £16 (c. US$21) and for making and receiving calls, it’s great. It synched to my smartphone and downloaded all my contacts, so no need to type them all in which would be an almost impossible task.

    And no, I’m not in prison. Not yet, anyway. But I cycle and kayak so can take this in my saddle bag or pocket in case of a problem, whereas my smartphone is so big that’s a struggle and so expensive I don’t want to risk it when peddling or paddling.

  3. Just bought the phone from men kind I have put my three SIM card it and fits fine but it has no bars on the screen and won’t let me ring or receive calls do I need to do anything else

  4. I actually prefer to use a non-smartphone anyway. So something this small, and a non-Smartphone is always a consideration.

    However, looking at the design it appears quite fat in comparison to another extremely small phone, the J8 by Long-CZ. Much nicer, smoother design. Not sure if I’m allowed to post a link, but if you want to see the J8, it is talked about, and pictured at this link:

  5. I bought 8. I live in the USA. They are fantastic. Gave them out as party favors they loved it. Mine works great 2bites and nano SMS. T mobile my carrier. Love the Zanco mini t1.

  6. Could you use this as a cheap alternative to a GPRS tracker. I’m trying to find a small non subscription based tracker to hide on my ebike and wondered about this. I’ve a feeling that being 2G it won’t make it viable but I’m not tech savvy enough to know for sure.

    1. I’m not sure how you would use it as a tracker. You’d probably be better off just getting something like an AirTag (if you’re an Apple person) or a Chipolo tag if you’re an Android person.

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