This is the ZTE Blade S6, the smartphone that best resembles the Apple iPhone 6. And as much as I hate to compare seemingly standard features to an iPhone, it’s almost impossible for me not to with the Blade S6.
Clearly, ZTE got some design inspiration from the Apple iPhone 6 when it decided to construct the Blade S6. Everything from the name to the Designed by ZTE in California text on the back cover, this is in a lot of ways a knock-off of the iPhone 6. With that said, this is not a bad device and it does offer a couple of major features that the iPhone 6 doesn’t have such as a relatively cheap $250 off-contract price tag and Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Now if we start with the design, it’s constructed with plastic throughout the entire device. It’s lightweight and fits comfortably on the hands and you can access the power sleep on/off button and volume rocker with really no problems at all. There’s a microSD card slot and SIM card slot on the left hand side, which I would have liked to see on the back cover along with a removable battery but that is not the case with this device. I feel like if you’re going to include a plastic back cover on a smartphone, you might as well make it removable so you can swap out the battery. But there is a 3.5mm headphone jack up top and a micro USB charging port down below at the bottom. The front is home to a 5-inch 720p IPS display with a few capacitive touch navigation buttons below. Although you can only the circular home button on the bottom when the phone isn’t asleep. The back also has a 13MP camera sensor and flash with the ZTE logo on the plastic back cover. The hardware, overall, isn’t horrible but it’s plastic and it does feel cheap and slippery on the hands. It definitely doesn’t give off any premium feel about it.
The display, I mentioned, is a 720p IPS panel that looks pretty good. It has a pretty decent color balance and color reproduction. I mean, the whites are white. I don’t see any visible yellowing to them and the colors aren’t overly saturated or vibrant, which may be a good thing or bad thing; depending on how you plan to use the device. The display is very bright, unfortunately and the blacks are just not going to be as naturally deep as an AMOLED display panel since this is an IPS LCD display.
Really, the star of the show and the reason why you should purchase this device is because of the Snapdragon 615 processor and the Android 5.0 Lollipop software. The ZTE Blade S6 has the new octa-core 64-bit Snapdragon processor installed with 2GB of RAM and it does a great job of opening and closing applications. Multi-tasking is an absolute blast and joy to use and it’s pretty seamless. I rarely noticed any sort of stuttering or lag at all. The only lag I noticed was due to the speed and not the processing speed.
Android 5.0 Lollipop looks and runs beautifully on this device as it should. The material design UI elements are present here with the card-based overview tabs and slide down notification panel. The only thing it’s missing is the app drawer, which is non-existent here since ZTE decided it wasn’t needed. This means all of your apps will be placed on the home screens, which I personally don’t like because I can’t really organize my home screen very well. ZTE also opted for square icons, which are okay visually but they do create inconsistencies with the standard Google apps that don’t have the square design. So I don’t really like these two design choices that ZTE did but I really admire them for making the Blade S6 run a pretty much stock Android software experience.
The Blade S6 also comes with a 13MP camera sensor. If you were to judge the camera only by its megapixel count, it would be right up there with the LG G3, the Nexus 6, Moto X, and several other flagship devices. But in terms of image quality, it’s certainly capable of capturing really good images but I wouldn’t really compare it to some of the flagship camera sensors out there. There’s not a ton of detail in the images that I captured—some close up images I captured were more detailed than others when they should all be detailed theoretically. And there were some with overexposure problems when I captured images in direct sunlight but I think for the price of this device, it’s a great camera, definitely better than the 8MP sensors found on many other budget devices.
As for the battery, ZTE equipped the Blade S6 with a 2400 mAh non-removable battery that gets the job done with a little over 4 hours or so on-screen on-time. The standby time isn’t the best since the battery life would drop several percentage points over a few hours when not in use. You’ll probably need to charge this device every night but it should give you through a full day on a single charge with average usage.
So overall for what you get, the ZTE Blade S6 is a great deal. For $250 off-contract, you get the latest version of Android 5.0 Lollipop and the new 64-bit Snapdragon 615 processor with 2GB of RAM, a solid display, a good camera and pretty decent battery life. I think the biggest turn-off is the design and how unoriginal it is. Not only did they blatantly copy Apple but they used cheap materials as well. If you don’t care too much about the design though and care more about the internals, which is what ZTE is hoping for, this may be the perfect device for you.
Let me know what your thoughts are about this device. Do you guys care if the design is basically a rip-off of the Apple iPhone 6 or does it not bother you?