BARCELONA—ZTE brought two new phones to Mobile World Congress this year: the V9 Blade and V9 Blade Vita. They’re midrange phones with attractive designs and stock Android that promise solid performance for an affordable price. We got a chance to check them out at the show.
The ZTE Blade V9 (pictured above) is the higher end model of the two. It’s a dense-feeling device with a matte finish aluminium strip running around the edges, while the front and back are coated with glass.
Its 5.7-inch, 2,220-by-1,080 LCD features an 18:9 aspect ratio. It’s made by LG and looks great in person, boasting excellent viewing angles. Though maximum brightness stats weren’t available at the time of writing, at just 40 percent, the phone was bright enough to be seen in a demo room with ease.
The main camera unit is a 16+5-megapixel rig with f/1.8 aperture and fast autofocus with Omnivision OV16B10 sensors. The 8-megapixel front camera uses an algorithm to interpolate selfies to 13 megapixels. Face unlocking is supported by the front camera, and you can also play around with fun AR modes that project things like animated T-Rexes and fireworks onto your snaps.
The Blade V9 is ZTE’s first phone to feature PDAF 2.0 (phase detection autofocus 2.0), which Jeff Yee, ZTE’s vice president of product marketing and strategy, said equates to autofocus that’s 40 percent faster than on previous phones. Given that the Blade series is ZTE’s midrange brand, we can expect to see this as a standard feature on future phones in the high-end Axon range.
In terms of processing power, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor (octa-core, clocked to 1.8GHz) under the hood. Models with 2GB of RAM/16GB of storage, 3GB/32GB, and 4GB/64GB will be available in various markets. A 3,100mAh battery powers everything, and charging is handled via microUSB; ZTE wasn’t able to tell us about charging times. Finally, there’s an increasingly rare 3.5mm jack for headphones up top.
Blade V9 Vita
The Blade V9 Vita is the smaller sibling to the Blade V9 and is priced a bit lower. The term “Vita” is essentially just the new “Lite.” Yee said that Lite comes with a few negative associations that ZTE hopes to move away from with this new branding scheme.
Naming aside, what do you get for your money? A compact phone that we understand, like the Blade V9, will run stock Android once it hits shelves, though the version we saw had a ZTE custom skin sitting on top.
The panel is 1,440 by 720, retaining the 18:9 aspect ratio of the Blade V9, but dropping the resolution. The CPU is also a less powerful Snapdragon 435, and the textured plastic body, while pleasant to the touch, lacks the premium look and feel of the Blade V9.
While we’re waiting on full camera specs, we understand that the front-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor that can take 8-megapixel snaps thanks to interpolation. Only standard PDAF software is present in the Vita.
Whatever your weapon of choice ends up being, neither will seriously dent your wallet. We don’t have official pricing details yet, or even know for sure which countries will get these, but we understand that you can expect to pay around the $300 mark for the Blade V9 and something in the region of $250 for a Blade V9 Vita. Check back for more details soon.