ZTE Grand X review
Strong competition on affordable monthly deals scupper an otherwise capable budget handset
Review Date: 3 Aug 2012
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: SIM-free, £190; Free, £20/mth on a 24mth contract
Features & Design
Value for Money
ZTE isn’t a well-known name on these shores, having previously concentrated on churning out OEM handsets for the likes of Orange, but the Grand X is sure to turn a few heads – after all, there’s plenty to like about a 4.3in, Nvidia Tegra-toting smartphone that costs less than £200.
The budget price means the Grand X can’t compete with the big boys on looks, and its glossy plastic finish doesn’t help either. Sony’s Xperia P and HTC’s One S are both more distinctive, as well as being sleeker – the ZTE’s is 9.9mm thick. The one consolation here is the build quality, which is impressively stout and sturdy considering the ZTE is 10g lighter than the HTC.
The budget also means that ZTE can’t quite stretch to the latest Tegra 3 silicon, but Nvidia’s older dual-core Tegra 2 chipset is still a capable choice. A score of 2,638 in the Quadrant benchmark puts the Grand X behind a couple of its mid-range rivals: while the Sony Xperia P scored only 1,716 in that test, the HTC One S registered a result of 4,717. The Grand X lagged behind a little in SunSpider, too: its result of 2,205ms puts it almost half a second behind the 1,824ms of HTC’s One S.
It might not top the performance tables, but the Grand X feels spritely in everyday use. Android itself was smooth and slick to navigate, and it was only during Shadowgun’s more raucous moments that the mid-range hardware exhibited the occasional judder.
The screen is altogether more impressive. Its 540 x 960 resolution and 4.3in diagonal are in line with the HTC One S, and while the 256ppi density means it doesn’t approach Retina levels, it’s still extremely sharp. Quality is reasonable, too: its 239cd/m2 brightness level can’t compete with the 311cd/m2 of the HTC, but the 1,199:1 contrast ratio lends images and videos a bold, punchy look.
The Grand X is perfectly usable, and we were happy to find that ZTE hasn’t sullied Ice Cream Sandwich with any of its own applications – the only third-party software installed is a selection of games designed to show off Tegra’s abilities. The only real disappointment came from the battery, which retained 40% of its juice after our 24-hour test – a little below the norm, with most good phones retaining 60%.
ZTE has equipped the Grand X with a 5mp camera – three fewer megapixels than the HTC – and it’s nothing to write home about. Close-up shots are far more washed out and exhibit more grain than those from the One S, and long-range snaps suffered from the same blurring of fine detail. Video recording is restricted to 720p, too, rather than the 1080p we’re now seeing on most handsets, and performance was sluggish: the camera takes too long to capture images, and auto-focus is similarly unresponsive.
ZTE makes great play of the fact that its Grand X is available, SIM-free, for less than £190, and for that money it’s easy to overlook its shortcomings – this is a solid all-round handset that will better HTC’s and Sony’s low-end devices.
It isn’t quite as compelling when bought on contract, though: the £20 a month, free-handset deals on offer bring the ZTE head to head with the One S, and the HTC handset offers better performance, a slightly improved screen and a superior camera. So right now we’d stick with the HTC, but if the contract prices tumble in the coming months, the Grand X may prove to be the budget Android phone many have been waiting for.
Author: Mike Jennings
- UK has "best broadband in Europe" - if Europe was only five countries
- Tim Berners-Lee warns not to take the web for granted
- Amazon will "limit music streams to encourage downloads"
- New version of Office for Mac coming this year
- Twitter goes down for second time in nine days
- Google sued over $66 in-app purchase
- Snowden: I was right to leak NSA data
- BBC revamps iPlayer for the "multiscreen world"
- Sony revives optical discs with 1TB Archival Disc
- Surface Power Cover finally arrives
- CeBit 2014 diary: Cameron comes to town
- The 5 most interesting UK businesses at SXSW
- Quickest way to upload 1GB? Hop on a train
- Move over Delia: IBM Watson is cooking tonight
- Eric Schmidt on the double-edged smartphone: friend and foe
- Getty joins the race to the bottom
- Hour of Code: five steps to learn how to code
- Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review: first look
- Sony Xperia Z2 review: first look
- Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 review: first look
- Make the most of your mobile data
- Old-school internet scams: five that just won't die
- Bitcoin believers not worried by Mt. Gox disarray
- How to hack your car
- Small server vs cloud: which is best for SMBs?
- Block party: why do millions play Minecraft?
- What to do if you’re still on Windows XP
- Microsoft Word: top 20 secret features
- Measuring me: is your body the future of security?
- The best mobile apps for business
- Headings vs headers: how to use both in Word
- Windows Server 2012 R2: how the Datacenter edition could change SMBs
- Invoices and VAT: how to set up your documents correctly
- Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Active: the best phone for avoiding screen burn
- How much is a social user worth?
- The key to choosing a secure password
- Thunderbolt Bridge: a fast Mac migration tool
- Should you advertise on Twitter?
- How to track a lost smartphone
- Self-publishing success: the best way to sell your book