The ZTE Blade comes with a full set of features, nothing is missing and most things work well. As a matter of fact the only things that do not function optimally are features or applications that are preinstalled, those that belong to Orange.
Let us start off, as is tradition, with connectivity. For international roaming we have the higher set of the following 2G GSM frequencies; 900, 1800 and 1900. For high speed connections, we have the dual 3G HDSPA frequencies of 900 and 2100. The Blade is optimally capable of roaming almost anywhere in the world, as long as it is not in a CDMA dominated region.
Local connectivity is catered for with Bluetooth v2.1 with AD2P and EDR, also onboard is Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g and microUSB v2.0. Under the hood we have a 600 MHz ARM 11 processor, Adreno 200 GPU for graphical performance and the slightly outdated Qualcomm MSM7227 chip set.
They all work very well, but if the phone has been updated to Android 2.2 (Froyo) it suddenly shoots the Blade into “hyper-drive mode", yes that's right, the Blade can be updated to 2.2, this offers a myriad of benefits, the least of which is that you can get rid of the junk courtesy of Orange. Although on the flip side Orange are selling the Blade in some regions with Froyo already running, a heavily modified Froyo, so in this case it is suggested you root your phone and install a fresh Froyo.
On Froyo the Blade is fast, zippy, sharp and accurate. In short it is a joy to use. The Blade has a 512MB ROM and another 512MB RAM, very generous portions indeed, there is also 150MB of internal memory available. The phone supports up to 32GB of external memory via a microSD card, however there have been numerous reports that 32GB cards crash or stall, so it is advisable to go for a 16GB card.
Now we come to the Achilles Heel of the Blade, its 3.15 MP camera with a maximum resolution of 2048x1536 pixels with auto focus. If a phone's camera is very important to you then the Blade is not your cup of tea, Pictures taken in full sunlight generally turn out clear and bright with a slight erasing of detail visible.
Indoor pictures are generally dull and have a strong grey tinge to them, also the auto focus is slow and macro shots are a complete nightmare to take. But the camera does come with all the basics such as Geo-Tagging, Panoramic shots, Mosaic shots, Frames, White-Balance and ISO configuration.
Videos are shot at a measly 15 FPS (frames per second) and are only worth looking at on the Blade itself or as an MMS video, do not try and view them on anything bigger than a 3 inch screen. The photo gallery is quite pleasing with its 3D effects and the Blade has a bare bones Task Manager that gets work done efficiently, so pictures, videos and files are automatically organized.
The music player is stock Android, and has a satisfactory set of features, supported music file formats are MP3, WAV, and eAAC+, not a big list, but good enough. The video player on the other hand is very good, videos cannot be played beyond its native resolution, but the 800x480 resolution definitely outdoes other phones in the same price bracket that come with 240x320 resolutions.
Plus the AMOLED/OLED/LCD screen makes videos crisp and very enjoyable, Angry Birds is a delight to play. Supported formats are only 3GP and MP4 unfortunately, the Blade was on a such a good roll we were hoping for maybe some DIVX/XVID support. It can play MP4 videos encoded in either H.264 or H.263 so at least that's a bonus.
Other feature are; Digital compass, SNS integration, Google Search, Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Google Talk, Picasa integration, Organizer, Voice memo, Predictive text input, JAVA, GPS, A-GPS, IM, FM radio without RDS, Proximity sensor and Multi-touch. Plus all the usual's such as SYNC, calendar, alarm clock, memo, stopwatch etc.