ZTE Blade 3 review
Android 4.0.4, 4.0in 800x480 display
ZTE is known as a maker of budget handsets, but the company has three distinct inexpensive smartphone ranges. There's Kis at the bottom, Grand at the top and in the middle sits Blade.
The Blade 3 is ZTE's latest mid-range handset, and as we expected, it doesn’t cost very much. At £80 on prepay with Virgin Mobile it's one of the cheapest Android handsets there is. ZTE says it will be available SIM-free, but we've yet to find anyone stocking an unlocked handset.
Apart from the fact the phone is SIM-locked to Virgin, you don’t get any prepay branding shoved down your throat. The Blade 3 runs an almost-stock version of Android 4.0.4, and the handset is plain, understated and good-looking, with a rubberised back and raised chin to help protect the screen against knocks. It's also remarkably heavy for a small handset, and feels pretty weighty in your hand. We actually rather liked the weight, as it helps make the phone feel tough and well made; an impression helped by the exposed metal chassis around the edge of the handset.
The touchscreen is responsive, which makes a welcome change from that of phones such as the Huawei Ascend G 300, which had us stabbing at the onscreen keyboard when typing. This isn’t the fastest phone we’ve ever seen, though. The 1GHz single-core processor means there's some slight jerkiness when flicking through app screens and a slight hesitation when opening apps, compared to the lightning-quick responses of a high-end smartphone.