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ZTE Grand S3 Review


Key Specifications

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with 2.5GHz quad-core processor
  • 5.5-inch full HD IPS LCD display
  • Android KitKat 4.4 OS
  • 3GB RAM, 16GB internal storage
  • micro SD expansion up to 64GB
  • 16-megapixels main camera, 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Eye-scanning technology for secure phone locking

Hands on with the ZTE Grand S3

Biometric technology had a big light shone on it when apple decided to include fingerprint scanning in the iPhone 5S, but now that’s old hat. The new secure way to lock your device is eye-scanning.

Pin codes and patterns can be guessed, but biometric information is notoriously difficult to crack, for that reason ZTE has decided to be one of the first mobile phone manufacturers to adopt eye-scanning technology in the Grand S3.

ZTE grand s3 4ZTE Grand S3 eye-based biometric authentication interface.ZTE Grand S3 Release Date and Price
The ZTE Grand S3 will be launching first in China aimed at business users for CNY 2,999 (about £315). Pricing and availability has not yet been confirmed elsewhere though.

Powered using tech developed by fledgling company EyeVerify, the scanning works by filming your eyes as they track a vertical moving target (the green bar in the photo) and it only takes about 3-5 seconds to complete. Once scanned with the phone’s 8-megapixel front-facing camera you can set specific apps to require eye scanning to access them. The selection of compatible apps is still too limited at present.

I found the whole process slightly hit and miss, but perhaps its not entirely compatible with exhausted reddened eyes. When it did work however, it took about 1.5 seconds to read and authenticate my eyes. Yes it would be faster to use pattern or pin lock, but they’re not as secure.

The rest of the phone looks solid in terms of specs. Its a 5.5-inch 4G smartphone with a full HD display and is powered by a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB RAM. The internal memory is 16GB with additional storage available via micro SD up to 64GB. It also has a nice large 3,100 mAh battery. The phone’s 16-megapixel main camera has decent face detection auto focus, but its features are relatively basic.
ZTE grand s3ZTE Grand S3 smartphone on display with colorful iconsZTE Grand S3 smartphone displayed at an eventClose-up of ZTE Grand S3 camera and flash.ZTE grand s3 2Close-up of ZTE Grand S3 camera and flash.
Eye-scanning is the only thing that really makes this phone really stand out, otherwise it’s not a particularly interesting device, despite strong specs. It’s currently only running Android 4.4, which feels a bit dated on a flagship phone with such a large hi-res screen. The design of the phone doesn’t help much either. It’s thick at 9.8mm and looks like it was designed simply to house the technology inside it, lacking character and style.

But that said, if you like the idea of having secure eye-scanning in your phone, the options are limited at present. Rival Fujitsu have a prototype device that also features vision-centric biometric technology. But Fujitsu’s version uses an infrared camera.

Perhaps eye-scanning is set to become as common place as fingerprint verification, which works great on the iPhone 6 and Samsung S6. The question remains for now though; is eye-scanning a critical feature any one? I’m yet to be convinced.

We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Used as our main phone for the review period

Reviewed using respected industry benchmarks and real world testing

Always has a SIM card installed

Tested with phone calls, games and popular apps

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