Pros:Very inexpensive, near-stock Android, good stamina
Cons:Basic design, low onboard storage, some bloatware
The 5.2in full HD display looks good, and it's generous of ZTE to include a full-HD display here when they could easily have justified a 720p panel. The screen has a resolution of 1080x1920, which works out to 423 pixels per inch. It's decently bright and colourful, although it gets a bit too 'reflecty' in direct light.
The touchscreen doesn't seem to be as responsive as most, though - while testing showed there were no actual faults with the panel, lighter touches don't register as often. Interactions using the side of a finger or fingernail also didn't work as well as on other phones, which was particularly noticeable in games (it's harder to nail the curveball throw in Pokémon Go on this phone). Part of the problem seems to be the texture of the screen - it's less smooth than many, and moving fingers encounter more friction. It's not a dealbreaker and most people probably won't notice, but worth being aware of.
The ZTE camera app matches the phone in that it's very minimalist, with a basic feature set but easy-to-understand controls. Photography fans will appreciate the inclusion of Manual mode, although I'm not sure many of them will be buying this phone - the 13MP main camera is fine, but it's not made for anything more than casual shooting.
In addition to the usual panorama and smile capture modes, the app offers built-in filters for both the main camera and selfies, plus a selection of ‘Scenes' (sports, backlight, candlelight and so on) to deal with different environments. These are a bit of a faff to use and most people probably won't remember to activate them before taking the photo, but they're there if you really want to take that snow photo in Snow Mode. After all, there's no mode like Snow Mode (sorry).
Overall, the camera performance on both sides is fine, even a little better than we'd expect for the price. The main camera is very quick, and providing the light is decent and you're properly focused, photos are perfectly colourful and shareable. The double-tap power button shortcut is handy, too.
The 5MP selfie camera doesn't do you many favours and there's no beauty mode, but again, it's impressively quick to snap and pictures will serve you just fine for most purposes. Like when you've accidentally dyed part of your hair green, and need to ask your mates for advice.
Price and availability
The ZTE Blade Velocity is available now, SIM-free for £149.99 at Carphone Warehouse.
While there's not much to get excited about here, the ZTE Blade Velocity actually offers more than you might expect for its bargain-basement price. It feels like an own-brand smartphone - you don't get the pretty design or fun features of the pricier models, but you don't pay for the brand name either.
If you're looking for something you can buy outright without too much outlay, or you need a spare/second/stand-in Android that won't leave you sputtering with rage when it crashes every other minute, this is a very solid choice. Heck, for this price you could even use it as a dedicated Pokémon Go phone. Not that anyone does that. Cough. µ
Very inexpensive, near-stock Android, good stamina
Basic design, some bloatware
Low onboard storage