ZTE Blade Vec review: A serious budget contender
All the right ingredients
- Big and bright display
- Well priced
- Uninspired, plastic body
- Limited 1GB RAM
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
The budget smartphone scene is dense in population. Currently more sub-$300 smartphones are on sale in the market than we can count on two hands. The Blade Vec needs to be memorable for the company to have any chance.
And parts of it are, such as the screen. It has a 1280x720 resolution spanning across 5-inches in a body marginally taller than Apple’s iPhone 6. Each inch crams 294 pixels — just as Motorola’s fantastic Moto G — except it is capable of exceptional levels of brightness. Screens of this calibre are a rarity at the Blade Vec’s price, and its inclusion enriches every facet of this smartphone’s experience.
Further separating the Blade Vec from the budget pack are its two cameras. The rear 8-megapixel and front 5 megapixel cameras are above par on the colour and clarity front, while the inclusion of a clever panorama mode and HDR make it that much easier to memorialise moments.
Neither of the cameras are perfect, with handicaps including a primitive user interface and a slow autofocus. These drawbacks are minor and don’t thwart the Blade Vec’s overall imaging.
Tucked into the left side of the Blade’s all-plastic body are trays good for two SIMs and a microSD card. The first tray is compatible with HSPA Internet speeds, and will work with the 850MHz network used by Telstra and Vodafone, along with the 900MHz of Optus’ network. The second tray is reserved for voice and text over 2G alone.
Dual-SIM smartphones can be geared to save money. A SIM attached to a cheap data plan can be used in the first tray, while another competitive on voice rates can be used in the second. The Blade Vec has software that automates which SIM is used for calls, texting and data.
The operating system is a near-vanilla version of Android 4.4 KitKat. Changes are limited to the lock screen, the appearance of icons and a small number of settings. Some third-party applications are added for flavour. Otherwise, that’s about it.
The software is clean and uncluttered. Running a near-stock version of Android is a win for the ZTE in our perspective as overlays can be inconsistent and inefficient. We only hope the company goes the extra mile by delivering timely software updates.Read more: Grab a $49 Android tablet with your grocery shopping
Sifting through the software is a 1.3GHz quad-core CPU, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. More often than not the hardware delivers a brisk experience, but from time to time you will see the seams, where the limited RAM is straining to keep everything quick, and noticing the hiccups does make this smartphone feel cheap.
Further dampening the experience is the fact the Blade Vec doesn’t support microSDXC, which means it will only work with cards 32GB in size or less.Read more: Oppo breaks into Australian retail stores
Adding insult to injury is the texture of the ZTE smartphone. Every panel save for the screen is cheap plastic; it’s liberal use makes the smartphone feel cheaper than its $249 price would have you believe. Other smartphones make use of plastic, including the Moto G and Nokia Lumia 635, but these mould the material to ergonomic and inspired shapes.
The Blade Vec is not the best nor the worst of phones. ZTE has made a solid alternative to the champions of the budget market, and the company has gone one further by undercutting Motorola and Nokia on price.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 2 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 3 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 4 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 5 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Google wants to solve the Android update problem once and for all with Project Treble
- Intel concerned about name of John McAfee’s privacy phone
- Low-cost Android phones to get iPhone features with new Qualcomm chips
- Qualcomm's Quick Charge 4 is coming in phones midyear
- Apple's next iPhones may cut corners on memory due to price squeeze
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- MSI GE72 7RE Apache Pro gaming laptop review
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- FTAccounts and Office AdministratorNSW
- FTSalesforce ConsultantQLD
- FTLearning & Development Consultant, Wealth ManagementNSW
- FTSecurity ConsultantVIC
- FTSolution ArchitectSA
- CCGIS Consultant/ Developer - BRISBANEVIC
- TPAEM DeveloperNSW
- FTStorage EngineerSA
- CCBusiness Analyst - Banking/FinanceNSW
- CC.Net DeveloperNSW
- TPETL DeveloperNSW
- TPProject ManagerVIC
- FTSolution Architect - NetworksVIC
- CCSolution ArchitectNSW
- FTImplementation ConsultantNSW
- FTTechnical WriterNSW
- FTSenior React DeveloperNSW
- CCWeb DesignerQLD
- FTDeployment Engineer / Field Service EngineerQLD
- FTDealing Room Support Analyst - IPC voiceNSW
- FTNetwork Engineer - IP routing & switchingNSW
- CCWintel Support EngineerVIC
- CCJava DeveloperACT
- FTField Technician - Radio communication serviceACT