ZTE revealed the latest phone in its Blade series- the Blade V9 – at Mobile World Congress last week. The V9 makes a serious case for itself in the midrange device market.

ZTE has focused on design and camera, and moves the needle on both in a number of significant ways.

In a recurring theme of the show, Mobile World Congress saw a number of manufacturers bringing what we’d call premium build features to lower spec, budget friendly devices. The Blade V9 is built around an aluminium frame which makes it rock solid and hard to bend in a segment of the market where we’re used to flexible plastic construction.

It’s also adding a glass front and back into the equation, which really aids the in-hand feel but has unique reflective properties that earn it’s Aurora name.

On the camera front, the main 16MP rear camera is no slouch, although the 5MP secondary camera it’s paired with seems mainly suited to providing background bokeh-style effects. ZTE showed some impressive sample pics on screen during the launch presentation, but neither a darkened room nor trade show booth with floor lighting make for good environment to gauge good camera performance.

Internally, the Blade V9 is powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor. It’s no 835 or 845, but it’s also well capable of driving the Full HD 18:9 display. We’ve seen Snapdragon 400 series processors in a number of devices over the last few years, and paired with the 2GB/3GB RAM performance is impressive for the price point.

One change we’re unlikely to notice in Australia (but was important at MWC) is ZTE’s software customisations on Android — there aren’t any, or at least there’s very few. ZTE has had a light touch on customising Android on devices it’s launched in Australia for a while now, but this hasn’t always been the case overseas. That appears to be changing, with the Blade V9 sporting a pretty standard Android interface — perhaps going some of the way to explaining how it’s wringing the performance it’s getting from that processor.

We’re yet to get clarification on an Australian launch for the Blade V9, but with other devices in the line launching here we’re hoping to see it land soon.

Ausdroid attended Mobile World Congress with sponsorship from ZTE and other brands.