The ZTE Grand Memo is ZTE’s attempt at keeping up with the latest mobile fashions. It has a giant screen, a super-powerful camera and a powerful processor. But in usual ZTE fashion, it should cost a fair bit less than the giant phones from its better-known competitors.
With a 5.7-inch screen the ZTE Grand Memo really is a pocket-filling device. However, as with many large-screen phones, having all that expanse of rear to pack the necessary internals into means the phone is also pretty slim. ZTE says it’s just under 9mm thick.
It does lack a bit of flair, though. Its rear is glossy plastic and both the SIM slot and Micro SD memory card slot lie under unceremonious plastic flaps that announce their presence a bit too readily for our liking. This lightweight plastic phone doesn’t quite feel or look like a million dollars, or £600.
Although we don’t know the ZTE Grand Memo’s UK price yet, we hope these slightly wonky design decisions will translate into a lower asking price.
It offers solid connectivity, including all the standards of Wi-Fi (with Wi-Fi Direct), Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. A 4G version is planned too, and MHL is on-board to let the handset output video to a TV easily. The one feature it may miss is NFC – we’ll look for confirmation on this point.
The ZTE Grand Memo’s screen also lags behind the competition a little. It’s pretty huge at 5.7 inches across, but uses 720p resolution – where the current trend is for 1080p 5-inch screens.
In person, though, 720p offers enough pixels for a super-sharp image, with text looking smooth and exceedingly easy on the eye. Colour reproduction was good too, the IPS display capable of playing the balancing act between looking rich but not oversaturated with ease. Top brightness wasn't startling, but this may have been down to the horribly harsh lighting of the ZTE stand at MWC 2013.
The ZTE Grand Memo screen is mid-range, but that we can make such a capable display sound middling is symptomatic of the crazy improvements in display technology over the last few years.
With Android running the show, using the ZTE Grand Memo feels as familiar as donning a well-worn coat. It uses version 4.1 Jelly Bean, and sports a custom ZTE-made user interface.
We’ve never been great fans of the ZTE take on Android – it makes mostly aesthetic tweaks, but they leave Android looking less classy than it would with the stock version. However, it does give you some control over how the Grand Memo looks. There’s a settings menu that lets you choose how all the system’s animated transitions work, from using plain old slide moves to ornate 3D animations. We prefer the former, how about you?
The ZTE Grand Memo uses a Snapdragon 600-series quad-core Krait 1.5GHz CPU. This offers great performance, making Android whiz around like a school kid who has guzzled too many sweets.
The camera is one area where the ZTE Grand Memo keeps up with the competition. It uses a 13-megapixel sensor, just like the Sony Xperia Z. The main sensor is partnered with an LED flash.
Its secondary camera is nothing special, with a 1-megapixel sensor where other phones of this size use two or more megapixels – but we honestly don’t believe all that many people would mourn the loss of those million pixels.
The ZTE Grand Memo is not a device that will have millions turning their heads away from the Sony Xperia Z or the Samsung Galaxy S4. It offers solid specs, but is functional rather than fancy. Offered at the right price, however, it could offer a seriously attractive entry point to the world of the giant screen phone for those without wallets brimming full of cash.