Review by Sunetra Chakravati,1/18/2017 11:44:34 AM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Just £129 | Good battery | Great screen
Laggy processor | camera isn't great
We have come to expect the unexpected and the unusual from ZTE's phones design-wise. The Axon Elite came replete in a faux leather finish with faux stitching and fancy metal lattice work and even though the Axon 7 mini was a lot more toned down, it was very different from other mid-range phone. When the Blade V7 landed on our desk, we expected to be wowed, and it did not disappoint.
Designed at ZTE's Munich Design Centre, our review sample is a cool grey handset with a metal back topped off with plastic panels. The colour match on the two materials is very good and you will not be able to immediately notice the plastic- the only giveaway is the drilling for the headphone jack which belies its plastic nature.
There is 2.5D curved dark glass at the front and chamfered edges so the phone looks much slimmer than it is. Although, at 7.5mm it is definitely not chunky. The back is slightly curved so you can easily cup it in your hands and with a 70.4% screen to body ratio, it definitely occupies the sweet spot of smartphone sizing.
There is no fingerprint sensor at the back, just a metal fenced camera lens. Power button is on the right of the screen as is the SIM tray which also takes a microSD card to expand on-board memory by a further 128GB.
Crisp, bright and beautiful with a unusually high pixel per inch ratio (424ppi) for a £129 phone, we were smitten with the Blade V7 display at first video. There is a Full HD screen on here giving it a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels and it absolutely shines. We reviewed the Huawei Nova recently and it costs £369, and both the Huawei mid-ranger and the ZTE Blade V7 have the same screen and resolution. Even the Sony Xperia XA, £100 more expensive than the ZTE Blade V7 has a poorer resolution at 294ppi.
Videos streamed of Youtube during our battery test were fantastic to view and the two sets of speakers flanking the microUSB charging slot belt out music that is not too distorted. All this for £129!
The primary camera has a 13-MP sensor with a dual-LED flash. Users are able to use the volume keys to take pictures and it also comes with a variety of good-to-have features like anti-shake, face detection, gesture shot, smile shot etc.
There are a few 'Pro' features available as well, so you can adjust the white balance, exposure, saturation etc on your phone through the camera settings.
Photos are as you would expect on a budget handset and they are by no means bad. At the price, this would be a perfect starter phone and you will not hear many complaints. The Blade V7 does struggle in low-light but as in previous cases, looking at the price, we are happy with the quality of camera. It is obvious that ZTE would have had to make some sacrifices to to keep the price of the handset down and the camera seems to have been one of those areas.
On the plus side, you are able to record 1080p videos at 30fps!
A 1.3GHz Mediatek octa-core processor is supported by a 23GB RAM and for day-to-day use, the Blade V7 is absolutely on the money. However this is not a phone for heavy-duty gaming or hammering with a gazillion apps. There was just a touch of stutter and lag when switching between apps quickly and although these were negligible, expect a sharp decline in performance after about a year's regular use.
We ran an Antutu benchmark test on the Blade V7 and it ranked quite low in the pecking order of devices. To give you an idea of how low, it scored 37342, while the Apple iPhone 5S got 63559.
The battery isn't the largest on the Blade V7 and is a 2500mAH one. During a looping video stream test, the V7 lost 9 percent of power during 20 minutes. This result was for running HD videos over 4G. Again, the result is better than that of the huawei Nova which is almost £200 dearer.
Of the total 16GB onboard memory you get on the Blade V7, just a touch over 5GB is taken up by the system ROM so you find yourself left with a paltry 9.61GB. However, the phone's memory can be expanded by another 128GB taking advantage of the second SIM slot which can also be used for a microSD card.
You will find Android 6 on the Blade V7 with ZTE's custom layer over it. Custom software layers can be very annoying, and same is the case here with the Blade V7. Apart from the stock Android apps, there is a whole spectrum of apps like file manager, ZTE Cares, Tools plus Gestures and Motion.
We love the gimmickiness of the Gestures and motions setup. You can ring a person by displaying their contact info on the phone and simply lifting the phone to your ear or just lift a ringing phone to your ear to answer the call, write C on the blank phone screen to launch the phone app, M for music, W for messaging and O for browser. We tested them all out one by one and they worked quite well.
At £129, this is one of the best budget handsets available to buy right now. If you buy it from Three on a pay monthly contract, expect to pay less than £10 for it. In terms of value for money, the Blade V7 is hard to beat. We do miss the presence of a fingerprint sensor and it would be good to have a slightly higher specced battery but at that price we are definitely not complaining!
Also consider: Vodafone Smart Ultra 7
Similar to: Lenovo Moto G4
Killer app: Fantastic display
Operating System: ZTE custom UI over Android Marshmallow (6.0)
Dimensions: 146 x 72.5 x 7.5mm
Resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels; 424ppi
Display: 5.2-in Full HD display
Processor: MediaTek MT6753 Octa-core
Camera: 13-MP with dual-LED flash; 8-MP selfie camera. 1080p video recording at 30fps
Memory: 16GB (available: 9.62GB) + 2GB (RAM) expandable by 128GB (MicroSD)
Battery: 2500 mAh lithium-ion battery
Fingerprint sensor: No
Misc: Dual SIM, no NFC; not compatible with 802.11ac WiFi standard. Bluetooth 4.0.