When ZTE announced its comeback in the smartphone game in the Philippines last February, we were curious about what it would bring to the table in a now-saturated smartphone market. Would it focus on camera performance? Gaming? Design?
Well, what better way to look at ZTE’s plan for the future than by checking out one of their newest devices, the ZTE Blade V41 Vita 5G. Aside from the abnormally long name, our initial impressions of the device were promising.
But does the ZTE Blade V41 Vita 5G show a bright future for ZTE smartphones?
Let’s find out in our full review.
Table of Contents
ZTE Blade V41 Vita 5G Review
Design and Construction
Before we go any further, we’ll refer to the ZTE Blade V41 Vita 5G as the V41. While the ZTE Blade name is cool, I think having three additional words after the product line name is a bit excessive and honestly confusing. This is especially since “Vita” isn’t a clear indicator of any feature differences (as the two other phones are named ZTE V40 Design and the ZTE V40 S).
Anyway, let’s get started with design and construction.
The first thing to notice about the ZTE Blade V41 Vita 5G is that it feels really premium in the hand. It has chamfered edges, a boxy profile, and what seems to be a plastic-metal frame that gives the V41 Vita 5G some weight.
The back of the phone has a frosted glass finish and a pair of camera modules that have a tasteful copper-brown outline around them. If we didn’t know that this was a budget mid-range option, we would easily think of it as an upper mid-range to even flagship device.
The V41 feels and looks expensive, showing that ZTE is looking at build and design as its primary areas of emphasis with their new smartphones. It looks like a phone that means business and it certainly feels that way as well.
While the frosted glass back does feel premium, it did have a tendency to rack up fingerprints over a longer period of time. We also would have preferred it if the back didn’t have so many labels and symbols to add to that more minimal effect.
For IO, On the right, we have a volume rocker and a power button on the right; a secondary microphone at the top; a USB-C port, the main mic, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a speaker grill at the bottom; and the phone’s dual SIM slot on the left.
For design and build quality, we have to give ZTE some props. The V41 looks like a phone that would have a name like “ZTE Blade” (and of course, the V41 Vita 5G part too). In other words, the V41 gives off a cool, luxurious, and no-nonsense feel with its design choices and we are very much fans of it.
Display, Biometrics, and Multimedia
Unfortunately, as many good things, we had to say about the V41’s design as many shortcomings as it has in the display department. The V41 rocks a 6.6-inch FHD+ IPS display panel at 60 Hz.
At this price, I personally don’t mind that it doesn’t have a higher refresh rate since many phones at these prices have fast refresh rates that don’t translate well because of slow hardware. However, what I do care about are screen brightness and viewing angles. Sadly, the V41 is lacking in both.
The V41’s display is on the dimmer side, requiring it to be at least at 65-70% brightness for regular use. In direct sunlight, it gets even harder to read and interact with content as the panel just isn’t bright enough.
What’s even more disappointing with the V41’s display is its viewing angles. Even just a slight tilt of 10-20 degrees off center and the display quality falls apart. The colors on the display get muted and washed out when viewed at an angle. It’s a shame because the color reproduction on the V41, when looked at head-on, is pretty decent.
We also noticed that the display itself is a bit unresponsive. In our use, this was most prominent when using the keyboard as it would occasionally miss touches and inputs. This would also happen in our regular navigation of the device.
The speaker on the other hand can get pretty loud but the sound quality definitely deteriorates at higher volumes. There also isn’t a stereo earpiece speaker so you’re left with the single downward-firing speaker at the bottom. As do most single speakers at the bottom, they can get muted easily when the phone’s used in landscape mode.
For biometrics, the V41 has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor on the power button. In our experience, the sensor was fast and reliable and we didn’t have any issues with getting into the phone whatsoever.
While the V41 got off to a good start, we’re brought back down to earth with its mediocre display, horrible viewing angles, and single-speaker grill.
For cameras, the V41 has a triple camera setup that’s led by a 50MP main, a 2MP macro, and a 2MP depth sensor.
The cameras on the V41 are mediocre. They’re on the grainier side and we noticed that the cameras on the V41 struggle to focus on images as well.
You can get decent indoor shots with good lighting but more often than not, you’re going to have to be patient with the phone as it tries to capture focus.
Unfortunately, the photos don’t get any better under low light conditions. With little to no light, photos from the V41 lack detail, and the focus issues only get worse.
Selfies on the other hand are surprisingly good provided you have enough lighting.
Lastly, videos from the V41, while they have good color, are also incredibly grainy. It also isn’t the smoothest video we’ve seen from a phone.
As one can see, cameras aren’t the V41’s best trait. It’s useable, yes, but we wouldn’t recommend getting the V41 for the camera performance.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the ZTE Blade V41 Vita 5G is a MediaTek 810 8-core 5G chipset, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage.
While I didn’t expect the V41 to be blazingly fast, I was pleasantly surprised with how well it performed. This is in large part due to the software customizations with the V41 (which we’ll get into later), but navigating and using the phone for light tasks was smooth for the most part. I didn’t notice any aggressive app crashing and the animations were snappy.
For benchmarks, we got these results from the V41:
- Geekbench 5 – 546 (single-core); 1661 (multi-core)
- Geekbench 6 – 724 (single-core); 1857 (multi-core)
- PC Mark Work 3.0 – 10570
- 3D Mark Wild Life Stress Test – 1326
For gaming, the V41 gave us pretty good performance. Call of Duty Mobile defaulted at Medium graphics settings and ran great, while Mobile Legends defaulted at High but we did experience some slight frame drops during more graphically-intensive moments in a match.
For those interested in Genshin Impact, it is playable on the V41 but at a lower 25-30 FPS. It’s going to be okay for quick sessions but any extended playtime won’t be a good experience.
OS, Apps and UI
The V41 runs on Android 12 with MyOS 12 on top. I personally didn’t anticipate software and UI to be strong points for the V41 but we have to give credit where credit is due. MyOS was smooth and snappy, and it honestly felt more similar to stock Android than it was different.
That’s not even mentioning the really good customization features included with MyOS. My favorite of these is how you’re given the option to pick the animation speed within the OS. This is normally a feature only available to developers but it comes switchable out of the box here. I switched to having faster animations and it really made the V41 feel a lot quicker than it actually was.
You also have this Z-POP feature that gives you a persistent button on top of apps, which can serve as another way you can navigate the UI.
Meanwhile, bloatware is also a strong suit for the V41. There are only a handful of pre-installed applications and most of them can be uninstalled.
The V41 exceeded expectations in terms of software and overall UI and we’re all for it.
Connectivity and Battery Life
The V41 has 5G, Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi-6, GPS with aGPS, and NFC. For battery, it has a 4500 mAh battery with support for 22.5W fast charging.
The battery life on the V41 was average. It easily lasted us a full day of use, with around 25-30% battery left at the end of the day. On PC Mark’s Work 3.0 Battery Life test, the V41 lasted 11 hrs and 54 minutes.
On our standard video loop test with a 1080p video playing on loop, airplane mode on, volume at 0%, and brightness at 50% — the V41 lasted for 18 hours and 50 minutes.
It’s an average battery experience overall from the V41. You won’t be so battery anxious for everyday use but it’s not a phone for the road warrior either.
So what have we learned from ZTE’s return to the smartphone game with the ZTE Blade V41 Vita 5G? Well, we learned that ZTE seems to be making a big emphasis on build quality as the V41 came out swinging with a professional and sleek-looking design that punches above its price.
We also learned that ZTE can offer pretty reasonable performance and an OS package that doesn’t feel bloated and is reasonably snappy for everyday use.
On the other side of the coin, however, we see that cameras and display tech aren’t a point of emphasis for ZTE and its V41. The V41 delivered a mediocre camera experience and a below-average display with bad viewing angles.
At a price of Php 11,999, do we recommend the ZTE Blade V41 Vita 5G? The short answer is no. The subpar display and cameras are enough of a turn-off to not recommend the device.
However, our long answer is that while the V41 isn’t a good phone to buy right now, there are a number of welcome signs with the V41’s features (such as the excellent design and enjoyable OS) that make us excited about what ZTE has in store in the near future.
We can’t wait for what ZTE will bring out next.
Specs and Pricing:
6.67″ IPS FHD+ (1080 x 2408 pixels), 20:9 ratio, 90Hz display
MediaTek Dimensity 810 8-core 5G
128GB UFS 2.2 internal storage
50MP main camera
2MP depth sensor
8MP front-facing camera
5G, dual nano SIM | 4G/LTE
GPS with aGPS
USB Type-C 2.0, OTG
Fingerprint sensor (side-mounted)
MyOS 12 based on Android 12
4500 mAh battery (22.5W fast charging)
Suggested Retail Price: Php 11,999
What we liked:
- Premium build and stylish design
- Enjoyable and smooth OS experience
What we didn’t like:
- Mediocre display
- Below-average camera performance