Mobile manufacturer ZTE had something of a surprise hit on its hands when it launched the original Blade. The budget end of the smartphone market had been crying out for a handset that was not just a cheap, almost unusable interpretation of the more powerful high end mobiles and ZTE delivered.
This does ratchet up the pressure somewhat for the Blade 2, which ZTE has introduced to be priced just above the original. As such the improvements are somewhat incremental, but since the Blade 2`s predecessor was already worthy of praise this is not really a negative thing.
It is probably worth noting main similarity before checking out the main alterations and the 3.5 inch 480×800 touchscreen display is consistent across both Blade models. The high resolution combined with the responsive capacitive touch technology make the Blade 2 feel slicker and more expensive than its closes rivals. Even if you are going to buy another budget handset with a screen measuring 3.5 inches across the diagonal, the Blade 2 will still be more desirable as rival resolutions rarely come close to matching it across identical screen areas.
ZTE has added an 800MHz single core processor to the Blade 2. This is 200MHz faster than the chip integrated into the original, but rather than using this oomph to increase the overall speed of the phone ZTE has decided to give it a more modern operating system in the form of Android 2.3.
You can flick between five homescreens, adding your own widgets and shortcuts. You can also add your favourite apps to a shortcut bar placed on the bottom of the primary homescreen, so there is plenty of scope for customising the way the ZTE Blade 2 operates.
Wi-Fi is at hand to let you surf the web without eating into your monthly data allowance, while location-based apps and services work well thanks to the GPS functionality. Social networking fans will need to visit the Android Market and download applications to support the likes of Facebook and Twitter once they have the Blade 2 up and running, but this is hardly a tough task to accomplish.
One of the most noticeable improvements comes in the camera department as the Blade 2 has not one but two snappers onboard. The primary camera on the rear now has a five megapixel sensor rather than the 3.2 unit found on the original. There is also a secondary front-facing camera which makes it possible to enjoy video calling with friends.
You get a good number of shooting modes and effects to try out and although it will not win any awards for photography, the ZTE Blade 2 does do much more than most budget Android handsets in this area.
The Blade 2 does not arguably do enough to make it worth using mobile recycling to sell your original Blade and make the upgrade. However, its price is competitive enough to give first time buyers an easy choice when they start looking for an affordable Android smartphone.