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ZTE Grand X review

 Review: August 2012  

Rating: 3 stars

In a nutshell: The ZTE Grand X runs pure Android Ice Cream Sandwich on a capable mid-spec phone. It offers a high-resolution 4.3 inch screen, but is let down by poor build quality and is over-priced at launch.



"ZTE," we say. "Who?" you ask. "They're the fifth largest smartphone manufacturer in the world," we say. "No way!" you say. But it's true. Chinese company ZTE have been making phones under cover of darkness for years now. You may be familiar with the Three Mobile dongle, or the Rio II from Orange, or other phones for T-Mobile, Vodafone, etc. They're all made by ZTE. But ZTE have ambitions way beyond this. "At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi," concluded a recent board meeting at ZTE, and the ZTE Grand X was born.

The Grand X is an Android phone running Ice Cream Sandwich (version 4.0). Mercifully, ZTE have left Android largely untouched, so that it runs the way nature (i.e. Google) intended. That should mean that an update to Jelly Bean arrives soon. In fact, this is possibly the phone's most compelling feature.

Daringly for a relatively unknown manufacturer, the Grand X is pitched at the high-end. However, compared with other handsets at this price, the ZTE doesn't really stand out from the crowd. Looking very much like a bog-standard Android phone, it's all rather plasticky and samey. The 4.3 inch display is a good size though, and has a respectable resolution of 540 x 960 pixels. It's a good screen with plenty of contrast, but lacks the brightness to be seen clearly on a bright, sunny day.

The hardware is good enough without being in any way exceptional. Dual-core is a must for this type of phone, and that's what the Grand X has, although its clock speed of 1GHz is more mid-range than high end. Likewise, the built-in memory of 4GB is below par, although this can be increased by adding a microSD card up to 32GB. The 512MB of RAM is standard for this type of phone, but should be enough for all but the most demanding apps. Even 3D gaming and video playback seem to work fine.

The camera again is rather average, with nothing to mark it out from others. 5 megapixels is the minimum a manufacturer can get away with at this price point, and that's what the ZTE offers. It can record video at HD resolution (720p) and a secondary front-facing camera enables video calls. Camera performance is generally rather slow too.

The media player is good, capable of HD video playback, and with Dolby Mobile providing good audio quality via the 3.5mm headphone jack or DLNA sharing.

The Grand X is well-connected, with fast 3G data and Wi-Fi, plus Bluetooth, USB and DLNA. Call quality and reception are good.

The battery is a sizeable 1650mAh, and yet battery life is nothing special, with a recharge needed after a heavy day's work.

Overall, the Grand X is a decent enough smartphone with nothing disastrous about it. In fact, the inclusion of unadulterated Ice Cream Sandwich is very much in its favour, and it's a good lightweight phone. The build quality may fail to impress, but we don't feel that the phone is about to self destruct if we push the screen too hard. The trouble is the price. At £20 per month on contract, there are so many other better phones out there - the HTC One S, the Sony Xperia S or the Samsung Galaxy S2 to name a few. If the price falls significantly, then the Grand X could become a good option, but not at this price.

ZTE Grand X features include:

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ZTE Grand X user reviews

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Average rating from 4 reviews:

Reviewed by pq from uk on 13th Oct 2014
Had the phone just over a year. In many ways it's very good, but there is something a bit flaky about the radio-based bits - calls, bluetooth, wifi, gps. BT tends to drop while calling, calling is more reliable with wifi off, wifi disconnects occasionally while in range, GPS drops out now and then and can be difficult to get a fix. Calls can be flaky any time.
Good screen, storage, etc. except that the screen gets very greasy very easily.

Reviewed by Rob from Wales on 17th Dec 2013
very 'glitchy'. Kept losing contact with people whilst speaking. Not a good phone at all

Reviewed by Nigel Hoskins from UK on 1st Apr 2013
phone keeps crashing and cannot acces update package useless

Reviewed by Bill from UK on 19th Mar 2013
Got it yesterday but half hour later needed Galaxy S3.

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