|+ Great value||- Small battery|
|+ Metal build||- No NFC|
|+ Octa-core processor||- No fingerprint scanner|
"The ZTE Blade V7 packs in an almost unbelievably high spec for what it costs. The battery is small, but otherwise this looks to be a strong, stylish phone with lots of power and a good camera."
Blade V7 is the cheapest 4G Super Voice phone around!
If you’re prepared to venture away from big brands like Samsung and Apple you can often get a whole lot of phone for not very much money, and nowhere is that more true than the ZTE Blade V7.
This little known handset retails from around £130, putting it in competition with entry level handsets, but with a full metal body and an octa-core processor it seems like it would be more at home in the mid-range.
So do all the pieces come together for a great value whole, or is the ZTE Blade V7 less than the sum of its parts?
The ZTE Blade V7 has a 5.2-inch 1080 x 1920 display with a pixel density of 424 pixels per inch. That’s sharp, especially for a phone of this price, and while it can’t quite match QHD flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S7, it is a rival for phones like the OnePlus 3, which is also 1080p yet costs over twice as much, or the Sony Xperia XZ which costs even more.
Of course pixels aren’t everything and the ZTE Blade V7’s screen feels lower end in some other ways, with colours not looking as accurate as we’d like. But it’s still a strong performance for a low end phone, and with good contrast and brightness that fault is easy to forgive.
This is arguably the high point of the ZTE Blade V7, as it has a full metal body in grey or gold, and it’s slim at just 7.5mm thick.
It looks and feels impressively premium, and while it’s arguably a bit plain and derivative of other phones - including the iPhone 7, it’s also lightyears ahead of the design of most budget handset, which tend to be clad in plastic.
This design and build would be acceptable on a £400 handset and on a £130 one it’s nothing short of exceptional – though not that unlike some higher end phones the ZTE Blade V7 isn’t dust or water resistant.
The ZTE Blade V7 isn’t lacking for power either, with a 1.3GHz octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM. To put that into perspective most phones at this sort of price have quad-core processors and many only have 1GB of RAM.
Of course this still isn’t a truly high-spec – at the top end phones have 4GB of RAM and while octa-core processors are the max this is nowhere near as fast as the top ones, but it should still be plenty of power for most needs, including apps and games.
There’s a 13MP camera on the back of the ZTE Blade V7, and while it’s no match for the snappers on, say, the Samsung Galaxy S7 or iPhone 7, it’s quite accomplished for such an affordable phone.
As well as having a respectable megapixel count it also has a dual-LED flash, which helps when the light isn’t great, plus it has a selection of shooting modes, like HDR and panorama, and it can film video in 1080p at 30fps. Not bad.
Round the front you get a fairly standard 5MP snapper, but while this is in line with a number of other cheap phones it’s also not that far behind many pricier ones, as front-facing cameras tend not to be given much attention by phone makers.
As with most budget phones there aren’t many standout features here, and don’t expect to see premium extras like a fingerprint scanner. The ZTE Blade V7’s main feature is simply that it’s so stylish and high-spec yet so cheap.
Other than that the interface is worth a quick mention. It runs Android Marshmallow, which isn’t worthy of note in itself other than to say that while not the latest version of Android it’s almost up to date, but what is noteworthy is that it’s an almost stock version of Android Marshmallow.
That means minimal bloat and a simple, intuitive interface that you can tailor to your liking with apps and widgets from Google Play.
The ZTE Blade V7 has a 2500mAh battery, which is on the small side, however in early tests the battery life seems reasonable. As ever you’ll have to wait for our full review for a final assessment, but we’re cautiously optimistic that it should be able to last at least a day of moderate use.
Memory comes in at 16GB, but there’s also a microSD card slot, allowing you to expand that by an additional 32GB, so while it’s not as spacious as some phones you should have enough storage for lots of apps, games and media.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and Bluetooth 4.0, but notably there’s no NFC, so you won’t be able to use the Blade V7 for contactless payments.
Based on our first look at the ZTE Blade V7 is a seriously impressive handset. It has just about everything we’d expect from a phone of this price and more besides, including a stylish build and a decent amount of power.
There are some omissions, for example there’s no fingerprint scanner or NFC, but you’d often have to pay more for them anyway.
The only real concern right now in comparison to other phones of this price is its battery, as it’s on the small side, but early tests suggest it should still be reasonably long lasting, so even that isn’t something you should worry too much about. So if you want a cheap phone that seems expensive, the ZTE Blade V7 looks to be a good choice.
Dimensions (mm): 146 x 72.5 x 7.5
Weight (g): 136
Battery capacity (mAh): 2500
Colours: Gold, Grey
Screen size (inches): 5.2
Resolution: 1080 x 1920
Pixels per inch (PPI): 424
Processor: 1.3GHz octa-core
Processor make: MediaTek MT6753
Internal storage: 16GB
Expandable storage up to (GB): 32
Camera: 13-megapixel (5-megapixel front-facing)
Operating System: Android Marshmallow
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