ZTE Grand X review

Complate Specification Rabu, 18 Juli 2012
Those that wonder where the Mimosa X from MWC earlier this year went – well, it's now the Grand X.
It's getting pretty long in the tooth, even at launch, but still packs a decent Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core processor and a large 4-inch screen – all for just £189.99. But is it worth the cash even at the budget price bracket?
The first thing you'll notice when picking up the Grand X is just how much it resembles a Samsung Galaxy Nexus – to the point that if the Korean firm had sent it to us and called it the Galaxy Nexus Mini, we'd have nodded and then wondered why the icons on the front had changed.

And also why it had a ZTE badge on the front.
Other than that, the curved effect of the chassis, the minimal overlay on top of Android 4.0 and the stylised soft keys all look very similar indeed – except that the softkeys are actually part of the chassis.
The overall design of the phone isn't too bad – sure, it's got a rather plastic feel to it, and the mesh feel on the back evokes that from a number of Samsung phones – namely the Samsung Galaxy S2.
It's also not the thinnest phone on the market, and the lip and the bottom adds a lot of heft to the aesthetic. But it's solidly built, has a removable battery cover and a microSD slot that allows for hot swapping, which is so often neglected.
In the hand it certainly feels chunky, but not overly so – it more just fits with the price you're paying.
The interface is, somehow, less impressive than that on the Galaxy Nexus, despite being standard Android Ice Cream Sandwich. That's partly to do with the lower-quality LCD screen, which we're happy to accept given the much lower price tag of the device.

Use under the finger is very smooth indeed, with minimal lag when flicking between applications. This is the level most dual core phones should manage, but we've often seen it not happen time and again.
The user interface is as basic as can be, with the dual-loading Apps and Widgets menu allowing access to home screen customisation and all the app pre-installed as well as a modest offering of widgets.
The messaging options on the ZTE Grand X aren't much to write home about either – if you'll allow the (excellent) pun.
The TouchPal keyboard is a nice touch, thanks to letting users resize the height of the keys and integrate different languages. However, the accuracy is pretty poor – just because this is a budget handset doesn't mean we should be subjected to a difficult method of text integration.
HTC makes a much better fist of it with the Desire C, which also comes with Ice Cream Sandwich but also the still-innovative Sense overlay to open up additional functionality.
It doesn't have the grunt or slick user experience of the Grand X, but does come in at nearly £70 cheaper, which may appeal more than the CPU for the budget user.

Internet

The internet browser is definitely a big plus with the Grand X, thanks to the large, high res screen being teamed with a fast experience.

We're often confused to see phones that have the requisite power still struggling to load the simplest of websites, even when tested side by side with other equally handsets than manage the same task with aplomb.

Thankfully the Grand X comes with a qHD screen and all the wizardry Android 4.0 can afford on the mobile browsing experience.
This means the ability to save pages, request desktop versions of sites and a neater tab system for messing about with multiple pages.

Media

This is an odd one – the media experience seems to precede even Android Gingerbread, let alone the latest version the Grand X is rocking. The music player is as basic as it could be, reminding us of when we first saw it on the HTC Hero.

It allows you to surf albums, artists, songs and playlists, and not much else… and it can't seem to always pick up tagged album artwork.
It's a far cry from the overhauled option that comes with Android 4.0, so we're perplexed as to where that's actually gone.
Video suffers the same fate – slow to load and nothing more than a list of thumbnails with title, and asking the user to wait to load footage that can be rather choppy at times.
It's not a bad experience, but the lack of quality contrast ratio really shows here, as videos appear pretty washed out.
Dolby Mobile is on board, but isn't accessible through the Video Player – you can alter the effects directly from the Music portal, but the changes are still fairly minimal, and certainly not in the same league as the enhancements found in (admittedly far more expensive) phones like the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Early verdict

The ZTE Grand X would have been a fantastic phone for the price three or four months ago, but when it's matched with the likes of the Orange San Diego, powered by Intel's chip, it struggles slightly to compete.
For the price, coupled with the fast response and impressive internet browsing, we're hopeful this could wow a few consumers that may have previously not known what ZTE is all about.
There are some serious compromises having been made to reach the price point, but for a solid Android phone with a recent version of the platform, this is a great choice.
The media and design grate slightly, as does the way some media struggles to be read quickly, but overall it's a good effort from ZTE. We'll be bringing you the full ZTE Grand X review in the next week, so check back to get more on the camera, interface, messaging system, contacts and lots, lots more.


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