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ZTE Blade 3 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £80
inc VAT

A cheap as chips and perfectly pleasant to use prepay smartphone


Android 4.0.4, 4.0in 800×480 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.

ZTE Blade 3

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.

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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Price £80
Rating ****
Award Budget Buy


Main display size 4.0in
Native resolution 800×480
CCD effective megapixels 5-megapixel
GPS yes
Internal memory 2396MB
Memory card support microSD
Memory card included 0MB
Operating frequencies GSM 900/1800/1900, 3G 900/2100
Wireless data HSDPA
Size 121x64x11mm
Weight 130g


Operating system Android 4.0.4
Microsoft Office compatibility Word, Excel, PowerPoint
FM Radio yes
Accessories stereo headset, charger, USB cable
Talk time 240 hours
Standby time 250 days

Buying Information

Price on contract N/A
Prepay price £80
SIM-free supplier none
Contract/prepay supplier

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