ZTE Blade A3 Prime Review: Affordable Phone with Trade-offs

ZTE Blade A3 Prime review offers a closer look at this super affordable phone. Read about its design, performance, and the camera review.

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Review

ZTE Blade A3 Prime smartphone was released in mid 2020. When other brands attempt to fill their flagship line with expensive phones, ZTE does otherwise. It is rare to see newly-released Android phones under $100 these days. You are most likely to find second-hand phones at that price range.

This phone is definitely not the manufacturer’s first low-entry phone. ZTE released multiple budget phones in the past with ZTE Blade A7 Prime being the most famous.

ZTE Blade A3 Prime is one of those phones you should take into consideration. Its cheap price tag becomes the most appealing factor of this phone. However, there are several downsides that might turn away some users.

This ZTE Blade A3 Prime review will guide you through some unique features and several cons you may have to tolerate if you ever decide to buy this phone.

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Key Specs

ZTE Blade A3 Prime specifications:

  • Weight: 140g
  • Dimensions: 147 x 71 x 9.5mm
  • OS: Android 10
  • Screen size: 5.5-inch
  • Resolution: 1440 x 720
  • CPU: MediaTek Helio A22
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Battery: 2,660mAh, Removable
  • Rear camera: 8MP
  • Front camera: 5MP

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Design

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Front View

We hate to start this review with a negative vibe but ZTE Blade A3 Prime failed to impress us in terms of design. The name ‘Prime’ is not reflected on its whole body. The design looks outdated and uninspired for a 2020 phone.

The phone has huge bezels in this era of bezel-less phones. The plastic body gives a cheap appearance and looks like a phone which was supposed to be released 3 or 4 years ago. However, we understand that we should take into account its price.

There is a single 8MP camera lens on the back and two LED flash lamps. You can find a fingerprint sensor located in the top center. There is also a single speaker on the back and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top.

The plastic back cover has a peculiar texture, which is quite effective to prevent your phone from slipping out of your hand.

Because the phone does not have a notch or a punch hole, the bezel looks spacious. The front-facing 5MP camera is located in the left corner of the top bezel.

You can adjust volumes and power on/off the phone by using the buttons located on the right side. One thing that we really appreciate is that this phone uses a USB Type-C charging port on the bottom.

Read also: ZTE Blade A3 Prime User Manual / User Guide

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Display

The ZTE Blade A3 Prime uses an IPS LCD panel on its 5.5-inch display. The resolution is only 1440 x 720 but it is enough for a phone at this price range. What makes this phone look quite unique is it does not have rounded edges. This is a matter of preference, but we find this a bit refreshing.

The display is small for this year’s phone and the quality is average. Still, it produces accurate colors but less sharp compared to phones with OLED displays.

The plus side is LCD screens usually consume less energy so that your battery will last longer. It also looks bright in sunlight.

Videos look nice on this phone but the quality could be better as you are only able to watch them in 720p. YouTube, thankfully, works smoothly.

Since the phone is relatively small, the viewing experience on this phone is not that satisfying. Unfortunately, we could not help but notice that the screen size is too small for entertainment purposes.

On another note, the bezels allow you to hold the phone comfortably without making incidental touches. It is a small trade-off but again, the ZTE Blade A3 Prime is a low-tier phone.

We also understand that there are people who prefer small and compact phones as they are more comfortable to hold.

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Camera

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Back View

The ZTE Blade A3 Prime employs an 8MP single camera on the back and a 5MP selfie camera. The rear-facing camera is supported by two LED flashes which will help you take pictures in low light condition.

For a budget phone, the primary camera produces so-so photos. The quality is not up there with flagship phones, but the photos will not embarrass you. They are definitely worth posting on social media.

Indoor shots are full of noises but it is understandable. You can choose to turn on the LED flash to provide some light at night and for indoor shots.

Both cameras are equipped with autofocus but it is a bit slow. The selfie camera is quite decent too although it heavily depends on the lighting. Sadly, both cameras do not provide portrait mode. Portrait mode enables your phone to create a depth-of-field effect and artificially applies bokeh to your photos.

Video quality is disappointing but it is still decent as social media content. The selfie camera is adequate for video calls and online conferences. If you are looking for a phone with, at least, average cameras, this phone is definitely not for you.

There are some old phones at this price range that can capture better photos and videos such as iPhone SE (2016).

Read also:

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Storage

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Right Side

The ZTE Blade A3 Prime has 32GB of internal memory. Nowadays, 32GB is considered small because applications take up more storage. You may have to sacrifice your media files in order to install or update apps.

However, you can spend extra money to buy a microSD. You can add additional storage via microSD and it is expandable up to 2TB.

Because the phone runs stock or pure Android, you will not find any bloatware. The pre-installed apps do not take up so much storage.

If you want to free up more space, you can uninstall some of them or disable the apps.

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Performance

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Left Side

The ZTE Blade A3 Prime runs on the MediaTek Helio A22. It is also known as MT6762M, a 64-bit Quad-Core processor. The chip is not the newest processor in the market as it was released in 2018. Combine that with 2GB of RAM, it is most likely to struggle to do multitasking and run newer games.

We understand the manufacturer has to cut costs to sell this phone as cheap as possible. Therefore, this ZTE Blade A3 Prime performance review will try to keep an open mind throughout this section.

The phone runs well when running simple apps such as Messages, Phones and Contacts. However, we often encounter micro stuttering when using an app. Also, it sometimes takes a long time to open a new app.

The multitasking on this phone is not great either. The apps kept closing in the background and affected our multitasking experience. The phone can run several light games but struggles when playing demanding games such as PUBG.

This phone runs the stock version of Android 10. The transition between activities depends on the available RAM. The user experience is very neat because there is no bloatware installed on this phone.

The ZTE Blade A3 Prime is decent in terms of media viewing. You can watch videos on various streaming platforms smoothly although there are some limitations.

Unfortunately, the speaker is located on the back. So, you cannot put the phone on a surface without blocking the sound. However, you can plug in your headphones to the 3.5mm jack. The quality, of course, may vary but we were satisfied with the sound.

This device is equipped with four fundamental sensors, a fingerprint sensor, a proximity sensor, a light sensor and an accelerometer. Because the phone does not have a gyroscope, you will not get the maximum gaming experience.

Phones with a gyro sensor can adjust the phone orientation according to their movement. The feature is often used in shooting games.

For a budget phone, the lack of a compass is a bit disappointing. It is not the most important feature in a phone but it helps improve the accuracy of maps applications.

The ZTE Blade A3 Prime is classified as a low-entry phone. However, we believe that there are a lot of things that could be improved.

In terms of performance, there are older phones at this price range that give acceptable, if not better, experience.

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Connectivity

The ZTE Blade A7 Prime has 4G connectivity and the internet speed depends on your carrier and location. Additionally, the phone is also capable of using Wi-Fi.

Since the phone is equipped with GPS, you can find out information about a location smoothly. But as we mentioned in the previous section, there is no compass provided.

It also packs Bluetooth 4.2 for various purposes. You can connect your external speakers or wireless headphone easily. Other wearable devices are mostly compatible with this phone as well.

Another feature that impresses us is that this phone has an FM radio receiver. This allows you to listen to radio stations without being connected to the internet. As you may know, built-in radio has not been the biggest selling point on a phone for years.

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Battery

This phone has a 2,660mAh battery. It is really small for a phone at this size regardless of its price. The battery most likely will not last a day if you are into social media and internet browsing.

Although LCD panels usually consume less power, you probably need to charge your phone more than once in a day for normal usage.

The ZTE Blade A3 Prime has another unique selling point, which is its removable battery. You can remove the back cover to see the battery. For a phone which was released in 2020, this device sure feels like a reminiscence to 2010’s phones.

Unlike phones with non-removable batteries, you can replace your battery easily without additional tools.

Is the ZTE Blade A3 Prime a Good Phone?

The ZTE Blade A3 Prime is sold at $79. It is understandable that the phone has several cons that might turn away future users. However, this phone lacks so many things in various basic aspects. For example, the battery capacity, day-to-day performance and RAM management.

Therefore, this ZTE Blade A3 Prime review believes that you should only get this phone if you are tight on budget. You can also consider the stock Android OS if you are not looking for a fancy phone.

You may also want to turn this phone into a mobile hotspot. Compared to its older sibling, the Blade A7 Prime, this phone struggles to meet expectations but you get what you paid for.

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Compact size
  • Runs stock Android
  • Built-in FM radio

ZTE Blade A3 Prime Cons

  • Slow autofocus
  • Outdated design
  • Below-average performance
  • Small battery capacity