Overall, the layout isn’t totally clear at first, but you get used to it.
That said, we think ZTE could have just forgone the button markings, minuscule as they are, and just made the soft buttons appear on the screen, as so many other Android smartphones do. That would have made more sense, and could have meant either a bigger screen or less bezel, in theory, anyway.
With the phone on, however, you can get stuck into using it, and being a smartphone, there are, of course, a numbers of things you can do.
You can make phone calls, you can surf the web, you can write notes and take photos and listen to music and capture images with the camera and tweet and Facebook and play games and generally just use the phone.
And you’ll do it all with a barebones basic version of Google’s Android 5.0 “Lollipop”.
Forget the niceties of an overlay, because they can’t be found here, and even Google Now’s menu and news screen is missing here, meaning there’s no stock swipe to the left to find your day and any suggested reading materials loaded for you, nor is there that familiar set of app icons on a white backdrop that Lollipop typically shows.
You could always load Google’s Now launcher later, but the ZTE comes with the a totally barren edition of Android.
That’s not a bad thing, either, and it’s not a good thing. It’s just a thing, and a thing that feels a little out of date, revealing menu layouts and home screen looks similar to that of an older version of Android from when before Google made its Now launcher more friendly.
At least it’s fairly up to date, which is more than some manufacturers can say for other phone releases.
Performance is mostly strong, though, and while the Blade S6 doesn’t arrive with the fastest of processors, its Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 is no slouch either, providing eight-cores of processing power to work alongside 16GB storage and 2GB RAM.
This combination of technology helps the ZTE Blade S6 to handle itself quite well with just a hint of lag as you jump from app to app, browse the menus, and generally use the phone.