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ZTE Blade V6: Compromising, sorry excuse of a Xiaomi competitor

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The ZTE Blade V6 is a year-old smartphone with a rather ambitious price-tag of Rs 9,999. It was launched in late 2015 in China and few other markets under the name Blade D6 and only now it is coming to Indian shores.

Why do I say ambitious despite it being quite a competitive price? It’s certainly not the design. At first glance, this can easily be mistaken as an iPhone with the camera placement and the metal finish. The rear camera placement reinforces Apple’s design. But the volume and power buttons are wobbly and there’s no screen scratch protection. Moreover, considering the price-tag, it’s mediocre and old the MediaTek 6735 four core processor doesn’t really help much. The 2GB RAM perhaps is a boon, which keeps the rather old Android version performing smooth.

But take away the hefty price-tag and you have a phone that feels extremely good to hold. Light as a feather, figuratively speaking. Edges are rounded. The volume rockers and the power button are placed keeping the ergonomics in mind. The 5-inch 720p display is bright and detailed and can match some of the mid-range smartphones currently out there in the market, despite being a year old.

You have a modest 16GB of storage with the option of expanding it up to 128GB via a microSD card. But there’s a catch. It’s a dual-SIM phone but you are left with a mortifying choice of keeping either a second SIM card or a microSD card. While, this is not a perfect option, this is quite common. Even in the connectivity department, there’s a compromise. Only one SIM card slot is 4G-LTE compatible and the other just runs 2G.

The camera is somewhat a saving grace. The 13-megapixel rear shooter took some detailed macro shots with good detail and nominal noise. Landscapes too came out decent with vibrant color reproduction. Low-light photos are something you would expect from a budget smartphone — grainy and fuzzy. Focusing takes a long time though but there’s object tracking to compensate for that. The front camera will take good portraits of your face provided there’s good lighting.

The camera app offers a range of shooting modes including HDR, Live Photo, Panorama, and exposure and white-balance controls. No manual shutter-speed control for you though, even though there’s Android Marshmallow. Long pressing the shutter will take 40 burst shots in a couple of seconds and you even get live photo filters. Blah!

Enough of compromises now! You get 3 UI options, you get that? Three! You have stock Android. You have ZTE’s own Mifavor UI with gigantic icons, no app drawer and swipe animations. And then you have a grandpa mode, where you have a Windows Phone-like tiled UI with large touch surface area and basic calling and texting options at reach. You get swappable capacitive keys with the recent and back buttons interchangeable. You get a lot of bloatware too. There’s a separate app each for music, news, weather, lock-screen, file-sharing, instant messaging, video and in-app after sales services. You also get three web browsers for lord knows why! But the good part is most of them can be uninstalled.

You have small 2200mAh non-removable battery in the days when the similarly priced Asus Zenfone Max has a 5,000mAh battery that can even charge other phones. Heck, even Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 3 and Redmi 3S smartphones have larger 4,000mAh batteries.

On startup, the phone shows the ZTE logo with the tagline “Tomorrow never waits.” The impatience is totally evident with his phone. With giants like the Redmi 3S prime, Zenfone Max, LeEco 1S raging in the market, the ZTE Blade V6 rushed, but arrived a bit too late to the party. Also, considering what Chinese players like Xiaomi, Lenovo, Asus and Huawei are doing to the Indian market, this sorry packaging of compromises does not even match up to its origins, never mind the price. Give this phone a ditch and hunt for better options!

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