ZTE Blade Q Mini review

A new benchmark in an era of affordable smartphones?

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ZTE, like fellow Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei, is very good at turning out serviceable budget smartphones and has been doing so for a few years now.

Unfortunately, the problem for both companies is that the big-hitters of the Android world are starting to take more notice of the mid and low-tier markets. In doing so, they will surely push the likes of the ZTE Blade Q Mini further into the periphery.

A clever exclusivity deal has meant the Chinese company can push this smartphone through at a ridiculously low price, which will undoubtedly make it attractive to parents and the perpetually clumsy. But is it enough?

We liked

Buying Guide
Best Android phone which should you buy
Best Android phone

Along with the price of the handset, its simple design is a big selling point for me. That goes just as much for the clean Android OS as it does for the curved black design. As an operating system, Android has matured immensely and is now at the point where you can have a great experience on limited hardware.

It's true that the 1GHz Cortex MTK processor isn't much cop compared to the majority of smartphones out there. But for simple tasks it still carries the ZTE Blade Q Mini through and, whether you want to play games or update Facebook on the move, this is a simple and cheap way to do it.

Without Google Play certification, this phone wouldn't be worth approaching, but with the full might of Google's app store behind it, it's an excellent place to start for anyone looking to buy their first smartphone.

We disliked

I think a 4-inch screen on a modern smartphone is too small and its limitations are obvious here. The homepage can appear cramped when widgets are involved and trying to tap out a message or email on the condensed keyboard isn't easy.

The non-HD screen means that watching in high definition on YouTube or through Google Play isn't an option either and although 3D games do work, I wouldn't recommend it over the traditional 2D puzzle games.

Verdict

The ZTE Blade Q Mini should be an attractive option for a budget smartphone - I've paid restaurant bills that cost more than this phone. However, there's always the niggling thought that for only a little bit more money upfront, you could buy a Motorola Moto G, which is a superior phone in every way.

There are advanced features on offer here. I was surprised to see that Bluetooth 4.0 was supported, and that the camera had an HDR shooting mode. Not only that, but ZTE has done a good job on the design, keeping it simple with the right amount of weight.

In conclusion, if you're looking for a cheap handset to be your main, go-to smartphone, then this isn't it. But if you're looking for an unimportant secondary handset for work, and don't mind committing to a Virgin Media PAYG SIM, then the ZTE Blade Q Mini is £60 well spent.

First reviewed: March 2014