ZTE Blade V7 Lite review

Beauty is sometimes only skin deep

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Interface and reliability

  • UI lacks smoothness
  • Motion and screen gestures allow quick access to apps
  • No app drawer, so your home screens get crowded quickly

The Blade V7 Lite has Android 6.0 installed, with ZTE's own custom skin laid over the top. As is the case with many of these specialised skins, there are some nice ideas on offer which are balanced out by some pretty terrible ones – the most onerous of which is the decision to have every touch of the screen accompanied by an audio cue.

The lock and unlock sound is also rather irritating, and we turned both off at the earliest opportunity.

ZTE has also "done an Apple" and removed the trademark Android app drawer entirely – something that a lot of Chinese handset makers are fond of doing.

This means that apps are dumped directly onto your home screens when installed, and while you can create folders to keep things neat, it's not as tidy as having apps in a separate drawer.

Elsewhere, ZTE's ideas are a little more palatable. There are a wide range of gesture shortcuts, which allow you to open apps by drawing a symbol on the screen, even when the phone's asleep.

You can also configure the fingerprint scanner to perform certain tasks – such as taking a screenshot – by double-tapping it twice, and the "Pocket Mode" increases the ringtone volume when your handset is safely docked in your trousers.

At the slightly more bonkers end of the scale are "Air Gestures", which involve waving the phone in a particular motion to open apps.

We also quite like the ease of customisation which ZTE has baked into its interface. Tapping the capacitive button to the right of the home key opens a menu, from which you can quickly change the colour of the phone's theme, or pick different wallpaper – as well as defining the amount of blur you want to apply to the image.

You can also alter the way icons look and choose the kind of home screen animation you want. While these aren't entirely new additions to the world of Android, having them within such easy reach will please those who like to tinker with the look of their phone's interface.

Sadly, with all this tinkering comes questionable reliability. During the review period the phone froze on us entirely, forcing a complete reboot, and there were a few times when the interface became quite sluggish under heavy load. 

When manufacturers add layers of complexity over Google's core Android operating system – which itself has the odd bug here and there – it can throw up unexpected issues, and the Blade V7 Lite is no exception.

Movies, music and gaming

  • Dull, dark display
  • Weak gaming performance

Because the Blade V7 Lite's screen is limited to 720p you won't see the benefit of 1080p movies when watching them on this device.

The display's dull brightness level also makes it hard to make out what's happening in scenes where there's not much light – and this issue is exacerbated when you're using the phone outdoors. 

While it's still perfectly possible to enjoy video playback on ZTE's budget blower, it's not something we'd recommend it for.

ZTE has packed its own music player app with the device, but it's as bare-bones as it's possible to get. Music stored on your phone is sorted by artist and album title, and it's possible to create your own playlists, but that's about it.

With only 16GB of storage included you've not got much room for a massive audio collection, but you can use one of the nanoSIM slots to insert a microSD card if you so wish. 

We found ourselves quickly downloading Google's own music app, which not only grants access to cloud storage for your tunes, but also connects to a well-stocked online music store.

Gaming is sadly something of a write-off, at least for those who like intense 3D visuals. Real Racing 3 – which came out a few years ago and can hardly be considered a spring chicken in gaming terms – suffers from almost crippling frame rate issues, as does Gameloft's Modern Combat 5.

Less taxing 2D games like Angry Birds 2 and Super Hexagon run better, but hardcore mobile players are likely to be quite disappointed with the performance of the Blade V7 Lite.

Specs and benchmark performance

  • Stuttery performance
  • Weak benchmark results

The Blade V7 Lite is powered by a quad-core MediaTek MT6735P processor, clocked at 1GHz and supported by 2GB of RAM.

That's an entry-level setup these days, and it shows. Performance can never really be described as blistering, and there's noticeable stutter even during fairly low-level tasks, such as pulling down the notification pane or scrolling through your home screens.

It's never so bad that it impacts general usage, but the silky-smooth responsiveness present in other Android handsets just isn't here.

Benchmark tests confirm the Blade V7 Lite's low-end status. In Geekbench 4, the phone posts a single-core score of 442 and a multi-core score of 1164. In comparison, the Bush Spira E3X – one of Blade V7 Lite's rivals – achieves 732 and 2891 in the same tests.