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ZTE Blade V8 Pro Review: Beyond Mid-Range

What’s beyond mid-range?

ZTE’s best known in the US for making budget phones for budget carriers. But over the past couple years, the Chinese manufacturer’s built a solid reputation for making quality, affordable pseudo-flagships with its line of Axon unlocked handsets. With the Blade V8 Pro (a mouthful, indeed), ZTE is aiming squarely for the mid-range Android market, and more specifically for Huawei’s recently launched Honor 6X. The comparison is inevitable: both phones have similar specs, prices, and introduce dual rear cameras to the segment. Many of you are probably looking to buy one of these two devices, so let’s see what the Blade brings to the table, and how it differs from the Honor. Is it any good? Is it a better buy? Let’s dive in.

Design

The Blade V8 Pro is a somewhat generic 5.5-inch handset with a machined aluminum chassis and sides, a standard-issue glass front, and a grippy plastic back. It blends various existing designs (HTC and LG come to mind) — it’s not completely boring, but not particularly exciting either. At 156 x 77 x 9.1 mm (6.14 x 3.03 x 0.36 in) and 185 g (6.53 oz) it’s slightly larger and heavier than the Honor 6X — or about the same size and weight as a Pixel XL clad in one of Google’s Live Cases. Still, it feels pretty nice in hand thanks to that gently curved and textured back, and the phone’s build quality inspires confidence. The Honor’s flatter metal back is more slippery but definitely looks more premium.

Under the Blade’s 2.5D front glass you’ll find a 5.5-inch 1080p display, the usual earpiece and light/proximity sensor, an 8MP selfie camera, and a home button/fingerprint reader flanked by two capacitive buttons. The handset’s machined aluminum sides incorporate polished chamfers and a few antenna bands – it’s all quite tastefully done. On top there’s a headphone jack and secondary mic, and the bottom features perforations for the mono speaker and primary mic, plus a USB Type-C connector — a huge improvement over the Honor’s outdated micro-USB port. The dual-nano SIM/micro SD combination tray is located on the left edge, while the power/lock key and volume rocker are found on the right edge. No surprises here.

But it’s around the back that the Blade stands out amongst its mid-range peers, thanks to a pair of 13MP shooters ready to steal the show. The oval camera pod is made of glass and is slightly recessed to prevent scratches. It joins the dual LED flash and ZTE’s logo as the only items adorning the back’s textured plastic surface. Of course, the Honor also features dual shooters, but it’s a different setup, with a 2-megapixel depth sensor complementing a 12MP lens.

Display

As previously mentioned, the Blade V8 Pro features a 5.5-inch 1920×1080-pixel IPS panel. This screen gets the job done, but that’s about it. Colors are a bit muted and the contrast ratio is somewhat limited, but the viewing angles are decent and it’s bright enough to read in direct sunlight. The Honor 6X offers a better display, but lacks an oil-repellant coating, making it a fingerprint and schmutz magnet.

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Next: Camera…

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