ZTE Blade 3 Review

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ZTE Blade 3
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 rubberized 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. 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. The slow performance was borne out in our benchmark tests. In the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark, the Blade 3 completed the test in 2,587ms. This is a slow result, and what we were expecting from a single-core chip. We saw the difference in web browsing to a certain degree, in that desktop mode pages took a couple of extra seconds to render compared to the fastest handsets and zooming in and out isn't particularly smooth, but it wasn't especially distracting.
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