Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is always a big deal in the world of smartphones, but aside from the heavy hitters like the Samsung Galaxy S9, many phones announced there don’t make their way to the United States. While that’s technically true of the ZTE Blade V9 and Blade V9 Vita, they’re still worth looking into — chances are good that ZTE will release phones very similar to those budget handsets in the U.S. later this year.
ZTE’s made some serious progress in the United States thanks to their partnerships with MetroPCS and Cricket. They tend to pick out premium features from the year before, then put mid-range, good enough versions of them in phones that tend to cost between $100 and $300 — pretty good deals if you’re not super picky about specs!
That’s exactly what we’re seeing from the Blade V9. This year, ZTE has given their mid-range phone a premium sheen by putting glass on the front and back, while keeping a metal frame. The front also resembles premium phones — the 5.7″ display takes up way more of the front of the phone than before. The bezels aren’t as thin as those of the most expensive Android phones, but they’re not bad for a more affordable handset.
Inside, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 chipset, 3 GB or 4 GB of RAM, and 32 GB or 64 GB of storage. The 1080p display now has the same 18:9 aspect ratio of more expensive Android phones. On the back, there’s a dual camera array with a 16 MP autofocus sensor and a 5 MP autofocus sensor, which will work in tandem to make sure you can get great depth of field effects (ZTE says this year’s array should be better for night shots, too). It’s a dual SIM phone, with the second SIM slot doubling as a microSD card slot. That’s all powered by a 3,100 mAh battery — that’s larger than what the V8 had, and should get the phone to last an entire day or close to it.
The Blade V9 Vita is smaller and doesn’t have the glass back of the V9, although the battery still isn’t replaceable. The 5.45″ phone still does have the wider 18:9 aspect ratio and a 1080p display, though, so it’ll still be pretty solid for watching videos. The rest of the specs are a bit more modest than the V9, with either 2 GB or 3 GB of RAM, 16 GB or 32 GB of storage (with the same microSD slot as the V9), and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 chipset. The camera will be a bit of a step down, too, with 13 MP autofocus and 2 MP fixed focus sensors on the back. The battery is a bit bigger at 3,200 mAh, so this one could be the choice for anyone who needs to rely on their phone to last the full day.
These phones will only be in a handful of international markets at launch, and will start at €269 for the Blade V9 and €179 for the Blade V9 Vita. No confirmation yet, but it’s likely at least one of these will be released in the U.S. at a later date under a different name (and possibly with slightly different specs) with MetroPCS, Cricket, or another low-cost carrier.