ZTE has used MWC 2022 to launch its latest wares on the cheap smartphone market, bringing out four new models in the Blade V40 range.
The angle is clear for each of these smartphones: focusing on size and battery power, rather than a combination of key features that will improve your way of life, this once again feels like a brute force approach to sales.
The ZTE Blade series of smartphones are often super-affordable Android phones that launch in the US, designed for people who don't need flashy features and want to get a device without breaking the bank.
While we don't know the Blade V40 range release date or prices, the limited specs we have received suggest ZTE is playing that familiar tune.
If there's a unifying feature between the new phones, it's that they all have giant displays and giant batteries - so they'll be a dream for people who like to stream media all day, though they might irritate people with shallow pockets.
Four new mobiles
We don't know everything about these new phones, as the information provided to the press was full of gaps, which is why we call these devices 'confusing'. But we know the key selling points of each device.
The first is the ZTE Blade V40 5G - this is the 'flagship' model from the brand, but all the materials so far are about how speedy and high-strength the 5G signal is going to be, combining 4G, 5G and Wi-Fi to deliver blinding speeds.
This isn't massively new technology, but it will (likely) come at a cheaper price than most other 5G phones.
|Phone||Screen||Rear cameras||Front-facing camera||RAM / ROM||Battery and charging||Chipset||Fingerprint scanner||Connectivity|
|ZTE Blade V40||6.67-inch FHD+||48MP main plus two more||8MP||TBC||TBC||4G|
|ZTE Blade V40 5G||TBC||TBC||TBC||TBC||TBC||7nm octa-core||5G|
|ZTE Blade V40 Pro||6.67-inch||5,100mAh, 65W||4G|
|ZTE Blade V40 Vita||6.75inch HD+||6,000mAh, 22.5W||4G|
We assume that a lot of the specs will be similar to the non-5G ZTE Blade V40, which lands with a large 6.67-inch screen at FHD+ resolution. The cameras on the back sound OK - a 48MP main sensor is fine in terms of spec, but with no information on what processing and optimization is going on to improve the image quality, you could end up with many darker, high-res pictures that underwhelm compared to the 12MP images other, more expensive phones can take.
In fact, ZTE says that 'high-quality photography can be realized... without any picture processing' which is a little worrying.
That's joined by a 4cm macro camera - ZTE is clearly flying the 'cheap phone' flag high, because that's a spec we see on many low-cost phones as a way to flesh out specs list. We're dubious that it adds much to the mobile.
However, as you can probably tell, details are rather thin on the ground right now - something that's prevalent in the descriptions of the other two phones.
The ZTE Blade V40 Pro is the real flagship, with a 6.67-inch OLED screen, with a clear focus on adding higher-quality images thanks to the wide color reproduction on offer.
There's also a large 5,100mAh battery with 65W charging, so in theory you'll be able to juice it up in mere minutes and not worry all day long.
And finally, we've got the ZTE Blade V40 Vita, which is arguably the most interesting of the quartet. Seemingly aimed at the younger market, this is a phone with a huge 6.74-inch display, a 6,000mAh battery and a thin bezel - but a dig at the (limited) specs show a phone that skimps in other places.
Fast charging is capped at 22.5W, which is far slower than the V40 Pro and many other flagship phones (but decent if this is one of the cheaper phones on the market).
The HD+ resolution is far from market-leading, as is the waterdrop display, which sees a notch at the top that's just a small semi-circle - it's design that's just 'fine'.
The ZTE V40 series release date has been set for April this year, and will be landing 'worldwide' - although we've yet to have the exact locations confirmed.
ZTE no longer troubles the rankings of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world right now, but it's clear that it sees great opportunity in this budget range - big batteries and screens are the order of the day.
Will the addition of 5G make the difference? It's clear that in lower-cost markets, the tablet-esque displays, faster charging and easier connectivity is attractive - let's see if the Blade range can make a difference in 2022.