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printed April 28, 2017
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Review: ZTE Blade V8 Pro

Hardware Software Wrap-Up Comments  2  

Feb 8, 2017, 11:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

The V8 Pro is the first Blade series device from ZTE to be sold directly to U.S. consumers. This unlocked Android smartphone features an appealing design, good materials, and a solid spec sheet, but this V8 doesn't run quite as smoothly as we'd like it to. Here is Phonescoop's in-depth review.

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Is It Your Type?

The V8 Pro is the first Blade series phone from ZTE to make it to the U.S. This mid-range Android handset features an attractive design and specs to match its affordable price point. If you're looking for low-cost Android phone that's sold unlocked, ZTE's Blade V8 Pro offers lots to like.

Body

The V8 Pro is a large handset with above-average looks. Sure, it's a black slab, but ZTE selected a nice set of materials to boost the V8 Pro's visual appeal. From some angles, it could almost be mistaken for a flagship phone.

Glass covers the V8 Pro's face and it curves along the edges to flow smoothly into the chamfered metal frame. The shiny outer rim adds some flair and class to the V8 Pro's design. Matching accents on the home button, side buttons, and rear camera complete the picture and tie the design together nicely. No one will think the V8 Pro is an iPhone or Galaxy S7, but it has a nice shape and look that's a cut above other phones in this price range.

Blade V8 Pro  

Like many phones with 5.5-inch screens, the V8 Pro has an over-sized footprint. It stretches beyond 6 inches tall and 3 inches wide, which means it may be unwieldy for those with small hands. My thumb could reach only about half the display when I gripped the phone normally. The shape is smooth and there are no sharp edges. The V8 Pro fit into most pockets without trouble, but tight jeans may be problematic.

Build quality and materials are excellent for a device in this price range. The glass feels great under your thumb, the metal frame is strong and attractive, and the patterned, soft-touch rear panel is comfortable. All the components are assembled tightly; I didn't see any gaps in the seams. The V8 Pro doesn't come across as a cheap handset at all, and in fact is a pleasure to hold and use.

The V8 Pro's 2.5D curved glass is more dramatically curved along the edges than most. Such curves are often subtle, but the rounded shape is fairly obvious from a distance on the V8 Pro. That's a good thing. The glass and chamfered metal frame define the phone's face. I'm glad the bezels aren't overly obnoxious. The oval-shaped physical home button has a low profile, but it is still easy to find and use. I like the chrome accent, and travel and feedback are quite good. The home button — which doubles as a fingerprint reader — is flanked by two small capacitive buttons for multitasking and moving back through the user interface. They work well.

ZTE positioned the screen lock button and volume toggle on the right edge of the V8 Pro. They stand out visually thanks to chamfered accents. The physical profiles are excellent; both buttons are a cinch to find. Travel and feedback is perfect. The buttons each offer distinct action with an audible click. You'll find the SIM tray tucked into the left edge. The tray also accommodates a microSD memory card. It's easy to use. The V8 Pro features a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on top and a USB-C port on the bottom.

The V8 Pro's rear panel has a nice curve to it. I found the shape really helps the phone fit comfortably in your palm, as does the soft-touch, patterned material. It's grippy without being sticky. The dual-camera array is flush with the rear surface, but called out visually thanks to a shiny chrome accent.

You cannot remove the rear panel of the V8 Pro; the battery is inaccessible.

In all, the ZTE V8 Pro is a fine piece of hardware that should please most people.

Screen

ZTE picked a nice LCD display for the V8 Pro. It measures 5.5 inches across the diagonal and offers full HD resolution for a pixel density of 401 pixels per inch. The size/resolution works well and I found on-screen elements to be sharp with clean edges. Individual pixels are nigh invisible without a loupe. The display offers enough brightness for both indoor and outdoor use. I had no trouble using the V8 Pro outdoors under sunny skies, though you will have to adjust the brightness up all the way. The screen leans a bit toward the blue end of the color spectrum, which means whites aren't perfectly white. This is amplified just a bit when you tilt the phone from side to side. Viewing angles are okay. These minor niggles aside, the screen is more than adequate for this class of phone.

Signal

ZTE is selling the Blade V8 Pro to consumers directly online. It's unlocked and supports the LTE networks of AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. It doesn't include every LTE band under the sun, but it supports enough for a reasonably good experience on these networks.

I tested the phone across the NYC metro region and can tell you that the V8 Pro performs on par with most other phones on AT&T and T-Mobile. The phone demonstrated a strong connection to the networks even under the worst network conditions. It was always able to make and receive calls, and the phone didn't drop or miss any, even when traveling in a car. Data speed are not the fastest I've seen, but they're decent enough for regular activities. That means you can download apps and check your Facebook feed without any trouble. Watching video on YouTube was a bit choppy, as was streaming music from Google Play Music. This is common behavior for many mid-range phones.

It's worth pointing out that the V8 Pro supports two SIM cards, so you can use it with two separate wireless accounts if you wish.

Sound

ZTE made a fine voice phone in the V8 Pro. The earpiece produces enough volume that you can easily hear calls in coffee shops, diners, and other semi-noisy spaces. It's not the loudest phone ever, but it gets the job done. Clarity is very good, but short of excellent. Voices sound warm for the most part, but the speaker was prone to some distortion when set all the way up. Clarity is best with the volume at about 50%, but then calls are harder to hear. People I spoke to via the V8 Pro said I sounded "just OK."

The bottom-mounted speakerphone packs some punch. The little speaker puts out enough sound for your home, office, or car. Clarity is good enough most of the time, though you'll hear more distortion via the speakerphone than via the earpiece. Ringers and alerts are loud enough to get your attention most of the time, but I did miss them from time to time. It would help if the vibrate alert were stronger.

Battery

ZTE jammed a 3,140 mAh battery in the Blade V8 Pro's frame, but somehow it didn't live up to my expectations. The phone struggled to make it through an entire day. It pushed from 7am to about 10pm most of the time, which is about two hours short as far as I am concerned. As I always do, I tested the phone with brightness set at 50% and all the radios turns on. I surfed the web, browsed social networks, and streamed video and audio over LTE. These activities routinely sapped the battery of its capacity long before I was ready to call it a night.

Thank goodness ZTE included some power management tools. The phone includes a smart power-saver mode and ultra power saving mode. The former reduces notifications, darkness the screen, and spools down the CPU a bit, while the latter drops everything but basic phone and SMS capabilities. Employing the first helped coax the phone from breakfast to bedtime with a bit of power to spare. Putting the second into effect will give you days of uptime. You can also tweak individual apps' power consumption behaviors if you wish.

Last, the V8 Pro supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0. This means it powers up a bit faster than most other phones.

Battery Management  

Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi

The V8 Pro's Bluetooth radio functions well enough. The phone paired with a range of Bluetooth accessories, including headsets, speakers, and computers. The device delivered average quality calls through headsets and my car's hands-free system. Music sounded just okay via Bluetooth speakers.

I was happy to have NFC to help with Bluetooth pairing. NFC on the V8 Pro also supports Android Pay.

Together with Google Maps, the V8 Pro was able to field my general location in several seconds. It took closer to 15 seconds to truly lock down my exact location, and accuracy was as good as about 25 feet. That's pretty good. Google Maps worked well as a driving navigation tool, but it sometimes lagged my real location when traveling at highway speeds.

The WiFi radio worked very well.

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Comments

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Me

Feb 8, 2017, 4:12 PM

ZTE makes excellent hardware, terrible software

The new Blade V8 uses the same MiFavor operating system as my Axon 7. Unfortunately the software is the real negative for this phone. ZTE has chosen not to implement some of the most basic features of the Android OS. There are not many options or customizations on this phone.
thebriang

Feb 8, 2017, 1:32 PM

Pretty good price for a dual sim...

To me thats the key feature of this device, and either sim can use LTE, which is selectable in software.

For anyone else who cares bout Dual SIM features, from the Manual:

When two nano-SIM cards are installed, pay attention to the
following restrictions.

If one nano-SIM card connects to 4G LTE, the other card can
only connect to 3G or 2G networks.

You can use either card for mobile data service.

You can use either card for mobile data service, but not both at the same time.

If one card is connected to a phone call, the other card is unreachable.
 
 
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