Review Price £189.99
ZTE Grand X preview
Perhaps best explained as a ZTE Skate (aka Orange Monte Carlo) without the spec compromises, the ZTE Grand X is one of just a few ways to get a high-specc'd phone for under £200. It has a dual-core processor and 4.3in screen - when top-end phones like the Samsung Galaxy S3 have quad-core processors and even larger displays, this phone is in many ways profoundly sensible. It aims for the middle, and makes a pretty solid impact.
The handset itself is similarly conservative. That may make it sound boring, but when it nets you a powerful phone at a fairly low price, we're not complaining. The ZTE Grand X is backed with a plastic battery cover that features a texture of teeny raised diamonds. It stops the phone from feeling too slippery.
In-hand, the ZTE Grand X feels light, and lacks some of the solidity you might get from a unibody phone, but the rear in particular doesn't have the ropey look many low-cost smartphones have. The ZTE logo is nice 'n' small, the camera housing looks fairly good and the phone's curves are reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
Unlike some more expensive phones, the ZTE Grand X also has a microSD slot, underneath its battery cover. The phone couldn't do without one though, as there's just 4GB of internal memory and you only have access to around 1.5GB of that after Android has sucked-up its share.
The Grand X runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich, and there are no irritating software additions to hold you up. No custom UI, and no bloatware. This may change once mobile networks get hold of the handset, but the ZTE rep said there were no plans on their end to change the vanilla flavour.
The ZTE Grand X has a Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor. While it's now regarded as a bit of a disappointment, not quite packing the power to impress as the "flagship" processor of 2011, it has more than enough power to keep Android ticking along nicely. In use we noticed occasional minor lag, and the HD-quality video sample we tried played back jerkily, but overall performance was sound.
The Grand X will also be able to handle the Tegra 2-optimised games from the Tegra portal - as the chip that powered a wide range of phones and tablets from last year, a healthy crop of games are optimised for the processor.
The phone's screen puts in a respectable performance too. It is 4.3in across and has a qHD (540 x 960 pixels) resolution. As is the case throughout the phone, this is not longer a top-tier spec, but is more than satisfactory. Image quality of the TFT panel is good, with fairly vibrant, natural-looking colours and decent viewing angles. From an angle, the backlight becomes very noticeable, turning blacks into greys, but there's no show-stopping contrast or colour shift. Performance is comparable to last year's S-LCD screens, such as that of the HTC Sensation.
Two cameras feature on the phone, a rear 5MP sensor and a basic user-facing one. The main one has autofocus, an LED flash and seemed reasonably quick to focus. However, there's no physical camera button.
ZTE is keen to big up the phone as an "advanced gaming" machine, and for its in-built Dolby mode, which is effectively just a DSP app. However, neither of these really differentiate the Grand X from the pack - the gaming claim is simply based on its access to the Tegra zone and Dolby has nothing much to do with the phone's intrinsic sound quality.
As is so often the case with ZTE devices, what really matters is the price. At £189.99 on a pre-pay deal, the Grand X is better-equipped that the vast majority of phones costing the same amount. It offers better specs than the more expensive Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 and HTC's closest offering is the HTC One S, which will set you back an imposing £370. We'll be back with the verdict soon in our full review.
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