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ZTE Blade Vec 4G review - an affordable 4G smartphone

The Blade Vec 4G is one of the newest members of ZTE's Blade family. It sports a quad-core Qualcomm processor and a crisp TFT 720p 5 inch display.
September 4, 2014
ZTE Blade Vec 4G in hand
The Blade Vec 4G is one of the newest members of ZTE’s Blade family. It sports a quad-core Qualcomm processor and a crisp TFT 720p 5 inch display. With a good price point and 4G connectivity this phone is worth checking out.

ZTE is one of the top 5 mobile handset and smartphone manufacturers in the world. It has a large range of devices to fit almost every budget. The company recently released the ZTE Blade Vec 4G, an affordable 4G smartphone with a 5 inch, 720p HD display. I received one a few days ago and I have been testing it to see how this ZTE performs.

The Blade Vec 4G isn’t just about its support for 4G. At $215 the designers had some leeway to include some mid-range components including a 1280 x 720 display and an 8MP camera.

ZTE Blade Vec 4G (13)
Display5 inch, 720p HD (1280x720)
1.2GHz, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8926, Cortex-A7
8 Megapixel Rear Camera, 1 MP Front Camera
2300 mAh
GPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth
2G: GSM 900/1800/1900MHz, 3G: WCDMA 900/2100MHz; 4G: 1800/2600/900/800MHz.
Android 4.4 with Google Play
142 x 71 x 7.8 mm. 132 grams
SIM slots
1x micro SIM
The Blade Vec 4G is a little bit smaller than other 5 inch devices I have reviewed recently (including the ThL 5000, and the ThL W200s) which actually makes it easier to hold. Also, since it is under 8mm thick and weighs just 132g the device fits much better into a pocket an doesn’t pull the pocket down.

The design of the device is sleek black with a dark pixel effect on the back. The edges are well defined but not sharp and the four corners are slightly rounded. Around the edges are the various buttons and ports. On the very top edge is the micro USB port (used for charging and data transfer) while the headphone jack is on the bottom along with the microphone. All the controls are on the right, first comes the volume rocker and below that the power button. This means that if you hold the phone in your left hand it is very easy to reach the buttons with your fingers.

ZTE Blade Vec 4G (6)

On the back of the phone is the camera and an LED flash. Since the battery is non-removable, there is no back cover. To insert your SIM card there is a small tray on the left side of the device which is ejected using the supplied tool.

The TFT display on the Blade Vec 4G is very good and has good viewing angles and a fair level of brightness. The display is flanked by reasonably sized bezels, which my crude measurements show at under 4mm each. While above the display is the space for the earpiece, camera and proximity detectors. The bottom bezel is thinner than on other phones as the device uses on-screen soft keys rather than capacitive ones.

The Blade Vec 4G isn’t going to win any performance medals, however the Snapdragon processor does a great job of providing a responsive and fluid user interface. The quad-core Cortex-A7 based processor is coupled with an Adreno 305 GPU.

ZTE Blade Vec 4G AnTuTu

The Blade Vec 4G AnTuTu scores are respectable considering the Cortex-A7 based processor, and the price point. Antutu v5.0 gives the device a score of 17632 which means the device is comparable to the Nexus 4 and the Moto G. For Epic Citadel, the demo app for the Unreal 3D engine, the Blade Vec 4G managed 57.8 frames per second (fps) on the High Performance setting. Using GameBench I tested Minion Rush and found that the device managed an average of 30 fps, while Temple Run 2 did much better at 60 fps.

ZTE Blade Vec 4G Epic Citadel

In terms of GPS performance the Blade Vec 4G is fair. I stepped outside, activated the GPS and although the initial lock takes a couple of minutes, subsequent locks are quicker.

The Blade Vec 4G has a reasonable sized battery at 2300 mAh and the battery performance was on-par with my expectations. However it is worth repeating that this device doesn’t have a user removable battery. As for battery life, when running Epic Citadel, in its Guided Tour mode, the device lasts just under 5.5 hours before it runs out of juice.

Using the same data-set collected when I tested the performance of Minion Rush and Temple Run 2, GameBench calculates that you can play the former for just over 4 hours on one charge, while the latter can be enjoyed for more than 5 hours.

For YouTube streaming (over Wi-Fi) the device can handle around 6.5 hours on one charge. Watching an MP4 movie from the internal storage yields around 8 hours of viewing pleasure. All the tests were carried out with the screen on half brightness, syncing enabled and Wi-Fi on.

The ZTE Blade Vec 4G is a single SIM device and supports 3G on 900/2100MHz and 4G on 800/900/1800/2600MHz. Each 4G provider around the world uses one of the pre-defined frequency bands. In my country my carrier uses 1800MHz, so the Blade Vec 4G worked with 4G without any problems. The speed tests I performed confirmed much higher throughput than those I get on 3G. The four bands listed are popular ranges used in many parts of Africa, some but not all parts of Central and South America and large parts of Asia. In Europe, basically every carrier uses one of the bands supported by this device. Unfortunately none of the North American carriers use these frequencies. Before buying the phone you should check with your carrier to ensure compatibility, or if you trust Wikipedia then it has a global list of LTE networks.

This device is compatible with two 3G frequencies, 900 and 2100MHz. The latter is the most common 3G frequency and should work in most places around the world, however a lot of carriers also use secondary 3G spectrum ranges. In Asia and South America this is often 850MHz and 1900MHz, for Europe it tends to be 900MHz. The 3G won’t work in the USA, however 2G calls should work fine. You need to check with your carrier to ensure compatibility or check the List of UMTS networks page.

I compared the Wi-Fi signals strengths of the Blade Vec 4G with other devices I have and it performed equally as well. I was able to access the Internet from all around the house and outside without any problems.

The 8MP camera on the Blade Vec 4G is quite good. The focus is quick and the pictures are taken really fast. The only minor compliant with the camera was that under certain circumstances the pictures could take on a slightly yellow tint.

ZTE Blade Vec 4G Camera (1)

Because the phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat I was also able to use Google’s camera app. The best thing to do is to look at the pictures below and decide for yourself.

The Blade Vec 4G comes with stock Android 4.4.2 with a few minor tweaks. First, the device includes support for Dolby Digital Plus and includes a dedicated app for controlling the sound for the external speaker. Second, the settings have been tweaked to include two new sections, one for Call Settings and one called Connect to PC. The latter determines how the device is seen by a PC when a USB cable is connected.

ZTE Blade Vec 4G software

The device comes with full Google Play support and all of the normal Google apps are available. For those Google apps not pre-installed, a quick trip to the Play Store gets you everything you need.

The 16GB of internal storage is probably a bit limiting for some people, especially those who like to store lots of media on their phones. The 16GB is actually 14.6GB when formatted. The Android firmware takes 1.95GB meaning that 3.8GB is available for installing apps while 8.8GB is designated as internal storage. the biggest issue here is that there is no micro SD card slot, so there is no option for expansion.

If you are looking for a cheap way to get a 4G phone from a big name brand then the ZTE Blade Vec 4G is worth considering. The lack of an SD card will be a problem for some users, but the internal memory should be sufficient for many people. The ZTE Blade Vec 4G costs just $215 and you can get one from Chinavasion.