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ZTE Blade Q Mini review

A new benchmark in an era of affordable smartphones?

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According to ZTE's accompanying promotional literature, its Blade series is for: "people who want powerful smartphones on unrivalled packages that include loads of minutes, data and texts for their money."

The Blade Q Mini fulfils the second part of that statement, if not the first. It's a phone, first and foremost, about value – and that's where its killer strength lies.

ZTE Blade Q Mini review

An issue that can occur with expensive handsets is an ever-increasing list of features that most users aren't aware of or simply don't use. I'm looking at you, Samsung.

Instead, the Blade Q Mini gives you a basic smartphone experience; the ability to tweet, play Angry Birds or check Google Maps for about a sixth of the price of Apple's cheapest model, the iPhone 4S.

It will give you full access to the Google Play app store although, as I said, you're going to need a microSD card before going crazy with the installer.

However some key apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and Evernote have already been preloaded onto the Blade Q Mini.

Unfortunately, the budget nature of the phone has to kick in somewhere and there are certain restrictions that unsurprisingly have taken place.

You won't find NFC or 4G LTE compatibility here. However, the ZTE Blade Q Mini does feature Bluetooth 4.0 which allows it to connect to wireless headsets or speakers with much less power consumption.

The double-edged sword of a 4-inch display also becomes an issue when discussing the Blade Q Mini's key features. The portability of a 4-inch display will be a blessing for anyone that's ever attempted to wield the likes of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra or the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

ZTE Blade Q Mini review

But it's certainly fair to say that I've grown used to larger screens and as such the ZTE Blade Q Mini can feel a little cramped, especially if you start adding widgets to the homescreens. This can be a problem when playing certain games or tapping out an SMS message, due to the tiny keyboard.

I believe the sweet spot for smartphone screens is around the 4.7-inch mark, so stepping down to the 4-inch WVGA display takes some getting used to.

With a pixel density of only 233ppi, the Blade Q Mini also isn't as sharp as some, admittedly more expensive, smartphones.

It does however boast in-plane switching (IPS) technology which adjusts the liquid crystal display for better colour reproduction. But all told, I doubt that you'll be spending a lot of time watching videos on this handset.

I'll discuss the camera on the Blade Q Mini in more depth later on but although it isn't on a level with flagship phones like the HTC One or Apple iPhone 5S, it does a good enough job considering the handset's price point.

The 5MP snapper has an autofocus and LED flash, as well as several settings to tinker around with if you fancy it.

Given that cameras are one of the main features of smartphones these days, it's good to see that ZTE hasn't cut corners on the rear-facing camera - even if it decided not to include a front-facing option.