Pros:Very inexpensive, near-stock Android, good stamina
Cons:Basic design, low onboard storage, some bloatware
What kind of performance can you expect on a £150 phone in 2017? Better than you'd think, in this case. The phone includes the Snapdragon 617 SoC, which despite being a little longer in the tooth now, can still deliver the goods (we can relate to that). The processor offers 4 x 1.5GHz and 4 x 1.2GHz cores, and twinned with 2GB of RAM, handles most apps and processes capably (if warmly) - though you'll see the effects of the lower-end specs if you push it with intensive games and processes.
Similarly, you'll feel the pinch in terms of onboard storage, with the phone offering just 16GB and even less in usable space out of the box. Thankfully, the microSD slot accepts cards up to 128GB, so you won't have to start deleting stuff in a few months' time.
Benchmark-wise, our Velocity gave a respectable performance. It got a multi-core score of 1976 in Geekbench 4's CPU test, which puts it squarely between the Nexus 5 (1764) and the Nexus 5X (2162). AnTuTu, meanwhile, gave a score of 44354 - for comparison, this year's top smartphones score around four times that. They're also around four times the price - if not more. The V770 is not a powerhouse, but it's not half bad.
This was a pleasant surprise. A lot of Chinese-made phones, including ones from ZTE in the past, have horribly-designed Android overlays that make the platform less intuitive and much uglier. In this case, ZTE has taken the wise decision to provide a "pure Android" experience, although that term is a little misleading in this case.
The phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and there are no skins on top (unlike the lack of app drawer on the Honor 6X, for instance) - but there is some unnecessary bloatware, which you definitely don't get with "pure Android." For instance, out of the box the phone includes apps like WPS Office, Dolby Audio, ZTE Cares and Ume Browser, of which only the first can be uninstalled. The rest you're stuck with.
Aside from bloatware, though, the Blade Velocity V770 offers the Marshmallow experience you're used to and, presumably, those extra apps help keep the price down. Swings and roundabouts.
Between a relatively small screen and the power management software in Marshmallow, the Blade Velocity does an admirable job of staying alive. At 2540 mAh, the battery is a good size for the cost of the phone, and while it's not going to keep you streaming movies all day, it'll handle average daily phone use without running out of juice.
With the brightness set to ‘auto' and the built-in power saving options, the Blade Velocity should comfortably last most people through the day - though if you're a heavy user, you'll probably need a top-up around teatime. Don't we all?