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
- Google ditches OpenSSL in Chrome
- Apple and Swatch to buddy up for iWatch release
- StubHub fraud: how hackers stole $1m using tickets
- Mobile success boosts Facebook's profit by 138%
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Unlock your Moto X with a "tattoo"
- Samsung continues Tizen OS push with Galaxy Gear "upgrade"
- Killing the Surface Mini hit revenues, Microsoft reveals
- How to report website overblocking and miscategorisation to ISPs
- iPad sales stall as owners "too happy to upgrade"
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone
- Meet the robots helping teach children
- PaperLater: would you pay to print the internet?
- Amazon vs Kobo: how much to make the ebook switch?
- Phishing emails: how I nearly got caught out
- Hacking the Internet of Things: from smart cars to toilets
- BlackBerry Passport release date, specs, features, and rumours: when is the new BlackBerry coming out?
- What's changing in the computing curriculum
- Teaching kids to code
- Best free translation apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone
- Five worst SMB security threats... and how to solve them
- Apple iOS vs Android vs Windows 8 – what's the best compact tablet OS?
- The 12 best tablets of 2014: what’s the best tablet on the market?
- How to free up hard disk space
- Driverless cars: could your next car be driven by a robot?
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- Raspberry Pi and Wolfram: a must-have for every child
- Could you get by with Office Web Apps?