ZTE Blade V7

ZTE's bringing Marshmallow, metal and a few key features to its low end.

Mobile World Congress

ZTE's new Blade V7 and V7 Lite are focused on bringing a nicer experience to the low end, and we've had a chance to use them for a bit here at MWC 2016. With either phone you get 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, as well as a 1080p display. The relatively large screens, metal build and a few key features definitely put these in the low-end, but aspirational category at prices of $249 and $189, respectively.

First up, the Blade V7, which is the higher-end of the two. While we unfortunately weren't able to get our hands on the fancy gold model shown off in the press images, the black one wasn't too shabby itself. The first thing that surprised us was how nicely the front glass curved into the metal body and how tight the tolerances were — not always a given at the lower price points. And while this is a pretty monolithic and basic design, we're glad the money was spent on materials rather than unnecessary flair.

ZTE has made the move to Android 6.0 on these phones (and at this point, the January security update) and aside from some new icons and a few additional features has left this basically stock, which has historically been hit-or-miss with the manufacturer. The software seems quick on the Blade V7, as you'd expect with a device that doesn't have much on it. Interesting the V7 Lite, at least in the models on display here, had a software build with a differently-skinned notification shade that showed a bit more of the ZTE design we love to loathe.

Onto the Blade V7 Lite, which as its name would suggest is a bit lower on the spectrum. Interestingly it shares the same design and materials with the primary V7 model, though it cuts out in a few key areas for price concerns. The biggest changes are the move to a lower-end MediaTek quad-core processor, and a drop in screen size to 5-inches from 5.2. The cameras also shift a bit, where the V7 Lite drops the rear camera resolution to 8MP, but boosts the front camera to 8MP and adds a selfie flash.

Interestingly, the Blade V7 Lite includes a one-touch fingerprint sensor on the back, which is something that the higher-end V7 doesn't have. ZTE hopes to use this as a huge differentiator in this price category, but it's odd to think that it wouldn't also include it on the higher-end model that costs some 30 percent more.