Interested in a 5-inch smartphone with Android Go? This ZTE Blade A3L review introduces an entry-level phone focusing on simplicity and minimal specs.
ZTE Blade A3L smartphone was released in May 2020. Sometimes we don’t need complicated phones to go on with our day. A simple device would do. That is why manufacturers keep selling phones like this ZTE Blade A3L.
It features a small form factor with an equally small screen, at 5-inch. The design is far from luxurious, as ZTE Blade A3L is not intended as a prestige symbol of some sort. Inside the specs are also far from being mind-blowingly impressive.
You’ll get a 1.5GHz MediaTek processor with 1GB RAM. The internal storage is also very low, especially for a phone released just recently. There’s a back camera and a simple 2MP front-facing camera. All these specs are offered at an affordable price.
In this ZTE Blade A3L review, find out if the device is exactly what you need. Find out what features are available on this phone and whether this phone is a value for your money.
ZTE Blade A3L specifications:
- Weight: 150g
- Dimensions: 137 x 68 x 10.5mm
- OS: Android 9
- Screen size: 5-inch
- Resolution: 960 x 480
- CPU: 1.5GHz Quad-core, MediaTek MT6739
- RAM: 1GB
- Storage: 8GB
- Battery: 2,050mAh, Removable
- Rear camera: 5MP
- Front camera: 2MP
ZTE Blade A3L is very small for a smartphone. With a height of 137mm, it reminded us of the first smartphones we had in the past. This device is also thick at 10.55mm. Especially compared to today’s ultra-thin devices, ZTE Blade A3L looks slightly bulkier.
It is very lightweight, however. Weighing only 150g, the phone would like nothing in your hand. It doesn’t give the impression that ZTE Blade A3L has a sturdy build quality. In fact, it’s rather flimsy and definitely cheap-looking.
This phone’s whole design doesn’t try to look more expensive than it is. There’s no particular effort to make ZTE Blade A3L look a bit prettier. As a result, we have a plain design here, consisting of a black plastic frame, sizable bezels, and a matte finish.
Being a phone released in 2020, it’s rather strange to see a phone without a notch or edge-to-edge display design. That’s the vibe we got from ZTE Blade A3L. The back cover has the logo, the camera, and the LED flash. There are the usual Power and Volume keys on the side.
In short, it’s an outdated-looking phone. Perfectly resembles its price, ZTE Blade A3L chose to be bland than eye-catching. After all, how the phone looks is not a priority.
Read also: ZTE Blade A3L User Manual
ZTE Blade A3L comes with a 5-inch LCD screen with only QVGA resolution (960 x 480.) As you can see, this size is too small, and the display quality is not good.
If you look for a phone with an ample display size, sadly ZTE Blade A3L won’t get caught by your radar. At 5-inch, this phone fits into the smaller group of Android smartphones. There’s a good thing about the size. It makes it easy to operate the touchscreen with one hand.
The display quality is another thing that didn’t meet our expectations. You won’t get high-definition graphic outputs with ZTE Blade A3L. The 480p resolution is considered very low among other phones in this day and age. Icons, images, and texts, although appear fine and easy to spot, they’re not that sharp and punchy.
You can see how the edges of an icon don’t look smooth at all. You’ll see roughness, which you can also find in photos or pictures. A nice picture will display less accurate colors and hide worthy detail. It makes the picture look less beautiful than when it is displayed in a better phone.
The display also has poor brightness. It lacks the adaptive feature where the display can automatically adjust itself according to the surrounding. It’s hard to see items on the screen when you use the phone outside.
The lacking display quality is something you would need to compromise with. This ZTE Blade A3L review on the display just showed one of the biggest weaknesses this phone has.
ZTE Blade A3L has a single rear camera with a resolution of 5MP. For the selfie camera, there’s a 2MP lens on the front. Additionally, an LED flash is present to assist with lighting.
The back camera has some basic features like the 4x digital zoom. One thing to note, however, the low resolution makes a zoomed picture look blurry. The picture quality itself, without zooming, is already poor and has noises. Especially on artificial lights, the camera struggles to capture decent pictures.
The camera setting is set to auto. We think it’s perfect for non-tech-savvy users. You can just snap an object and the camera decides which settings are the best for it. So, the camera got more points for ease of use, but not the quality.
Don’t worry, you will still get a nice picture for fun purposes like social media. In that case, you don’t have to produce a professional-looking photo. Additionally, the camcorder on this camera is able to record 720p videos. The video that comes out of it is quite decent, but terribly shaky since there’s no image stabilization.
As mentioned before, ZTE Blade A3L provides a 2MP front camera. It’s good for video calls and some occasional selfies. However, the quality is not better than the rear camera. This lens struggles the same when faced with terrible lighting situations. The picture results also come with imperfections like noises and over exposure.
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There’s not much space on ZTE Blade A3L, only 8GB of internal storage. Almost half of it is reserved by the operating system. It means space is tight for the rest of your personal files. After apps, you can only store a handful of pictures and videos.
It’s recommended to also grab an SD card when you purchase ZTE Blade A3L. Get the biggest capacity allowed, which is 32GB. This expandable storage will add more room to your phone, allowing you to store more files as you like.
ZTE Blade A3L runs on a MediaTek chipset with a processing frequency of 1.5GHz. As we expected, the phone also manages to get one of the cheapest CPUs as its brain. This CPU is coupled with a mere 1GB of RAM. This setup is definitely not for performance seekers.
It’s meant to handle truly basic smartphone tasks only. Even in that case, there are still some easy tasks where the phone struggles. Multitasking can be a nightmare if you’re trying to juggle between several apps at once. There are delays in between launches, and the RAM does not hold the apps’ last screen state really well.
This phone is also not built for intense gaming. The low CPU and RAM specs are enough to make sure some games will never be installed on ZTE Blade A3L. You might be able to install some lightweights ones, however. So, don’t worry about lacking entertainment during your spare time.
Talking about entertainment, ZTE Blade A3L seems to fare better with video playing and streaming. Videos don’t lag and playing music is not a heavy task for the phone. It’s better to use the light version of YouTube for improved performance.
ZTE Blade A3L is an Android phone, as it runs on the Android 9 Go. This version is quite old since most 2020 phones use Android 10. ZTE Blade A3L goes for the Go version not without reasons. It is more lightweight and therefore suitable for the phone’s low specs.
There’s not much difference in how the user interface looks. Navigating the phone is easy even for beginners. The icons’ design looks outdated (Square instead of the newer round design.) Pre-installed apps are ready to use such as Google Apps. And there is not much bloatware.
Users of ZTE Blade A3L are able to communicate via the speedy 4G LTE network. For calling, you can enjoy clear voices and rarely dropped calls. For browsing the internet, the maximum download speed reaches 150mbps.
You can switch to Wi-Fi aside from using mobile data. There’s also Bluetooth on this phone, although the version is older. You’ll be able to pair a wireless earbud with it, but you cannot connect the phone with a speaker located on the far side of the house. The range limit is less than 10 meters.
Connectivity features on ZTE Blade A3L are keeping things basic. The phone also has a MicroUSB port, GPS, and a headphone jack. Other than that, there are no other features worth noting like NFC.
ZTE Blade A3L uses a 2,050mAh lithium-polymer battery as its power source. It’s interesting that it chose a Li-Po battery over the more popular Li-Ion one. Li-Ion is known to be more durable, but a Li-Po battery won’t easily leak. The former wins in performance but the latter is better when it comes to safety.
The battery performance here is just okay. This phone can manage a 10-hour non-stop phone call on a single charge. Standby time clocks at 300 hours, which is not bad. This phone uses a removable type of battery. For charging, you can use the MicroUSB port, no fast charging feature is available.
Is the ZTE Blade A3L a good phone?
Buyers can bring this phone home by paying $79. In our opinion, this price is too expensive. Especially when other phones offer bigger displays, some even come with fingerprint readers. Instead, ZTE Blade A3L sticks with only inferior features and specs.
The display has non-HD quality. The storage space is too small and the camera has low resolutions. Among the things that are slightly okay-ish are the battery, which performs well, and the lightweight Android Go. In conclusion, it is a good phone only if you have no other option. That’s our final verdict for this ZTE Blade A3L review.
ZTE Blade A3L Pros
- 4G support
- Decent battery
- Using light Android Go
ZTE Blade A3L Cons
- Poor display and camera
- Plain design
- Low-end performance