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ZTE Blade III review

Niall Magennis




  • Recommended by TR

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Our Score:



  • Stylish design
  • Display offers good resolution
  • Decent camera


  • Processor isn’t all that speedy
  • Camera's autofocus can be a bit iffy
  • Not great for 3D gaming

Key Features

  • 4-inch touchscreen display
  • 5.0 megapixel camera
  • 1.0Ghz Snapdragon processor
  • Android 4.0.4 OS
  • Manufacturer: ZTE Corporation
  • Review Price: £79.99


ZTE has produced some excellent budget phones in the past. We salivated over the original Orange San Francisco, which was essentially just a rebadged ZTE Blade, and also took a shine to the Orange San Francisco II, which was really the ZTE Crescent in Orange colours. More recently though, rival Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has stolen some of the limelight with budget handsets like the Huawei G300 and Huawei G330. ZTE is on the fight back though, and appears to have a winner on its hands with the ZTE Blade III. It costs just £79.99 on PAYG from Virgin Mobile yet offers an impressive 4-inch screen, 5MP camera and 1Ghz Snapdragon processor. Is this enough to stand up to the budget competition?

ZTE Blade III - Design

For an £80 phone the ZTE Bade III's design is remarkable. It blows the more expensive Huawei G330 clean out of the water in terms of looks, with the phone benefiting from a premium feel thanks the way ZTE has combined a piano black bezel around the screen with a chrome band on the top and sides of the handset. Admittedly this does give way to a slightly less premium secondary band that's finished with a plasticky, silvery effect, and which doesn’t look anywhere near as high quality. Nevertheless, the lock button at the top is easy to reach with your index finger when you're holding the phone single-handed and the volume control on the left hand edge isn't as spongy as some other phones that we've used. The rubberised battery cover also apes high-end handsets like the HTC One X and should make sure it doesn't slip easily from your grasp.

XTE Blade III 6

Beneath the screen you get four touch buttons rather than the usual three that now adorn most Android handsets, so sitting alongside the Menu, Home and Back buttons there's a Search key. It's not exactly an essential extra, but it can still be quite handy to have, especially if you want to quickly jump to search in the Gmail app or on the homescreen, for example.

You can prise the back off to get at the removable 1600mAh battery or the full-sized SIM card slot, and there's a microSD card slot here too. Thankfully you don’t actually have to remove the battery to get at the latter.

ZTE Blade III - Screen

Apart from the impressive styling, the other thing that stands out at you when you first clap eyes on the ZTE Blade III is its screen. The 4-inch display really is top notch. You'll struggle to find another £80 handset with a display that has a 480 x 800 pixel resolution, but even more pleasing is the fact that its viewing angles are actually reasonably good, unlike most budget handsets which have really tight viewing angles that make them difficult to read unless you're staring head-on at them.


The ZTE Blade III's display looks fairly bright when used indoors, and colours are much bolder and more vivid than on the vast majority of budget phones, so videos actually look top-notch. Its black levels aren’t quite as deep as higher-end mobiles, but this is difficult to spot unless you're looking at it back to back with a higher spec and higher priced handset. However, used outdoors the screen does wash out, so you'll often find yourself diving into the menu to boost it's brightness on sunnier days, something that does cut down on battery life a bit.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


March 14, 2013, 1:14 pm

>> The ZTE Blade uses a 16000mAH battery

Wow!, should easy be able to make a full week of constant use with that size battery :)


April 24, 2013, 12:51 pm

keith you plank its 1600mAH


June 28, 2013, 10:03 pm

Considering I got mine brand new at a Virgin store for £57:99 in June 2013, not such a bargain.

Elsi Qi

August 25, 2013, 2:08 pm

This was the worst cell phone I ever have had! No flash. Hardly couldn't see anything on screen outdoors. Difficult to use (I'm used to Nokia and Samsung).
The screen easily broke. Now I'll get me a Samsung!


September 3, 2013, 6:29 pm

This was the best phone I have ever had, I love it! Really worth getting.


September 17, 2013, 11:58 am

"The ZTE Blade uses a 16000mAH battery" Keith is no plank


September 17, 2013, 11:58 am

my samsung screen broke, easily!


September 20, 2013, 8:02 pm

1650mAH battery


September 23, 2013, 1:59 pm

I was quoting from the review mate, it has been edited now!

Vlad Bazarab

September 27, 2013, 9:52 pm

Huawei Y300 is £69 in carphone warehouse, unlocked, IPS screen virtually the same spec + JellyBean. All it needs is to have either Go launcher or Apex launcher installed to get rid of Huawei's interface.

Glad I bought the Y300.

Slightly Confused

November 11, 2013, 3:14 pm

According to Trusted Reviews, the camera on the Huawei Y300 is 'rubbish', yet it gets the same camera score (6) as this one, which they seem to to say is good.

How does that work?

Slightly Confused

November 11, 2013, 3:21 pm

My bad - they actually give the camera on this one 7, but the sample images don't look any better tbh.

Karma O'malley

July 29, 2014, 10:50 am

My ZTE Blade iii lasted 2 days then was returned faulty.Buggy mp3 eq dropout,terrible sound quality with o/s 'noise' ,and completely disfunctional wifi.Waiting for an xperia.

gosarkunal9 .

July 29, 2014, 2:24 pm

This is my second phone from ZTE and it has been horrible. The phone's battery indicator does not work, it jumps between 90%+ battery to 5% randomly. The phone regularly crashes and restarts itself. Applications seldom work as they also force the phone to crash. Overall, the phone is horrible and it is not worth the low price.

Similarly the ZTE Dublin was a horrible phone. Its internal memory could not support applications and transferring them to SD cards did not work.

Don't trust ZTE phones.

Damir Salopek

April 24, 2015, 12:50 pm

Have same problems with Blade III. I even tried to install new Android OS and it was done by person who knows how to do it. Now he hates me. Couldn't do nothing. Doesn't know if the problem is with phone's ROM or with local operator.


July 2, 2015, 8:15 pm

This is by far the worst smartphone I've ever had. It's so bad, that it's extremely hard to find things that actually work. While it was "quite acceptable" for the first days, it quickly started to get worse and worse. Apps are constantly crashing and opening one (just one!) app is the shit! It's extremely slow (for instance, booting takes about 5 minutes, unlocking takes about 30 seconds, opening an app, like WhatsApp... well, better wait for Christmas... or the fucking apocalypse).
There's only one thing you can do with it. As it gets hot in a blink (clicking anywhere on the display is enough), it's actually a good pocket heater.


March 4, 2017, 3:52 pm

The plug adapter doesn't work properly. A weird sound from the wall socket and it takes too long to charge the battery. I put the adapter in the recycle bin.


March 4, 2017, 3:56 pm

The plug adapter doesn't work properly. A weird sound from the wall socket and it takes too long to charge the battery. I put the adapter in the recycle bin. BAd phone quality.

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