Hands on: ZTE Blade V8 Pro review

A dual-camera Android phone at an incredibly affordable price

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Our Early Verdict

ZTE Blade V8 Pro is a feature-filled Android phone that boasts a dual-lens camera that wants to act like an iPhone 7 Plus. You won't get perks like the latest version of Android and it doesn't work with Verizon and Sprint, but it's a fitting GSM phone for the low price.

For

  • Flagship features at a cheap price
  • Nice textured back
  • Finally coming to the US

Against

  • Launched with Android Marshmallow
  • QuickCharge 2.0 two steps behind
  • GSM limits carriers in the US

Update: ZTE Blade V8 Pro is now available to buy in the US, and we're getting ready to test this new Android phone and its dual-lens camera in a full review.

ZTE Blade Pro V8 is the Chinese phone maker's budget phone that steals away flagship smartphone features while maintaining an incredibly cheap price.

It's an Android phone with a dual camera system, a fingerprint sensor and a big battery that competes with some of the best cheap phones in the US and UK.

The biggest surprise to us at CES 2017 was that the feature-filled Blade phone series is finally coming to the US. ZTE is trying to make a name for itself as the current No. 2 'no contract' phone maker.

While it doesn't go as far as using a top-of-the-line Snapdragon chip, pushing the its 1080p display to the limit or running the latest version of Android, everything that's here is a bargain for thrifty smartphone shoppers.

Price and release date

The ZTE Blade V8 Pro is appropriately coming to the US 'full throttle' with sales happening right now. 

We're still waiting for word on UK availability, but you can find the the V8 at US retailers like Amazon, Newegg and B&H Photo as well as ZTE's official website.

The best part is that it only costs $230 in the US (which is roughly £186 in the UK and AU$314 in Australia). That's much cheaper than phones that normally tout features like a dual-lens rear camera and fingerprint sensor.

Design and display

ZTE Blade V8 Pro is a likable-looking inexpensive phone – one that's all budget on the front and texturized party  on the back.

It measures 156 x 77 x 9.1mm, which means it isn't the slimmest smartphone, but it's easy enough to hold with one hand and fit in your skinny jeans pocket.

The 5.5-inch Full HD display gives you a 1080p resolution that's perfectly fine for everyday use, but don't expect it to ever be suitable for a VR close-up. Often times, more pixel-dense Quad HD screens look pixelated as it is.

The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 on the front, while a fingerprint sensor on the other side protects your phone from strangers with a biometric entry to the lockscreen and Android Pay.

Caution. This is a GSM-only phone – meaning in the US it won't work on Verizon or Sprint – but it does include a dual SIM card tray that can also be used for a microSD card slot. That's great for overseas use.

Dual lens camera and battery life

The big highlight here is the fact that there's a dual lens camera on the back of the ZTE Blade V8 Pro, even at its incredibly cheap price point.

It consists of two 13MP cameras that combine vibrant color and high contrast black-and-white photos into a superior master image.

The ZTE Blade V8 Pro is really pushing bokeh-rich photos, blurring the photos to the right areas to make them more stylistic, just like iPhone 7 Plus... minus the extravagant price.

While we need to get more time with the Blade V8 Pro to test out the quality, we were able to fiddle around with the camera app and edit some photos, including a black-and-white sketch mode. More to come on camera tests.

You get a healthy battery size here, with a 3140mAh capacity that easily tops other budget phones in the same price range that haven't broken the 3,000mAh ceiling yet.

However, the charging standard is now two generations behind, with Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0 faster charging things at speeds we first saw in 2014 with the Moto X 2nd Generation.

Specs and Software

ZTE Blade V8 Pro contains a fast enough Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset, meant for mid-range phones and by no means the fastest processor out there.

This won't be a problem for most people on a budget. Just don't buy into this phone expecting the brand new Snapdragon 821 on the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL, or Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 sequel that's about to tear up 2017 phones.

This phone is also running Android Marshmallow, which isn't the latest version of Google's operating system. However, it could get Android 7.0 Nougat in the future, we're told.

Early verdict

ZTE Blade V8 Pro has a lot of the features we've liked about flagship phones, and it offers them at a much cheaper price.

You won't be able to find a dual-lens camera and fingerprint sensor combo on a cheaper phone in early 2017, and that makes the Blade V8 Pro a good value – at least in our initial testing phase.

You won't get every major feature of top Android phones, but there's definitely a bang for your buck here. If you've been envy of Apple's iPhone 7 Plus dual-lens rear cameras but don't want to shell out all that cash, this is one to consider.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Swider is TechRadar's gadget-savvy, globe-trotting mobile editor in Los Angeles. As an expert in iOS and Android, he owns over 120 phones that someone keeps setting the alarms on – simultaneously. He received his journalism degree from Penn State University and is never seen without his TechRadar headphones.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.