ZTE Front

Key Features

    •  4.3in screen (540 x 960 pixels)
    •  Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
    •  1GHz dual-core processor
    •  5 megapixel camera with LED flash
    •  Price: £200 SIM-free

Introduction

Announced back in February and officially on sale since July, the Grand X is ZTE's answer to the mid-range phone market.

China-based ZTE is ranked as the fourth biggest phone manufacturer in the world according to the latest figures from IDC, and after spending the last few years making white label smartphones for others, the Chinese company is now making its own phones.

ZTE Back

While it lacks the features and specifications of higher-end models such as the Galaxy S3 or the iPhone 5, the Grand X accepts its place in the mid-market range of phones, somewhere not very far from the Galaxy Ace.

At £200, the Grand X is not the most expensive phone out there, nor is it the cheapest, putting it firmly in the mid-range sector, where there it faces some stiff competition from the likes of Samsung, HTC and compatriot Huawei.

ZTE Grand X: Design and Feel

The phone only comes in black, which is the usual colour scheme for phones these days. Black or white, you do not get much choice.

The front of the Grand X is made up mostly of the screen, and does not have any physical buttons. Actually, apart from the volume controls on the side and the power button at the top, the phone is devoid of any other buttons.

The display is 4.3in, thus placing it in the same category of screen sizes as most phones on the market. It is a nice size, nothing noteworthy, and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. You will have no issue going from one end of the screen to the other while holding it in one hand.

ZTE Side

Considering its name, the Grand X doesn't feel very grand. In French, Grand means big, but this phone is not really that big by current smartphone standards. Of course moyen - average in French - doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

The phone is made entirely of plastic and suffers from a common issue for Android phones: it lacks the weight or heft that stops it from feeling cheap.

Instead of being made of shiny plastic, though, the Grand X is made of a matte plastic and is texturized on most of the back. It is unremarkable at best.

It has a 5 megapixel camera on the back, along with an LED flash. The back also sports a shiny metallic ZTE lettering.

The earphone jack is placed on the top of the phone, and so is the power button. The phone does come with a pair of basic earphones - think the type you get in airplane and touristy tour buses. You may want to invest in a better pair unless you don't mind the danger of poking yourself with a piece of metal spiking out - the pair that was sent with the phone appeared to double up as a weapon.

On the side of the phone, you have the volume buttons that can also be used as a shutter button when in camera mode, and the micro-USB port. Not a very clever placement as it means whenever you are charging your phone, you cannot hold it in a comfortable fashion.

The charging cord is also not not very flexible and you will not want to use your phone when its charging, unless absolutely necessary.

ZTE Flat

The phone only has a 4GB internal memory, which makes using a memory card practically mandatory. With smartphones these days, 8GB won't let you go very far, so don't hope to store much with 4GB. Without any additional applications installed, the phone already only had 1.57GB free.

The only catch is that in order to use your microSD card, you will need to open your phone to put it in. There are no slots on the side of the phone. Instead you will have to remove the back cover, and it is incredibly difficult.

We all had to take turns in the office, and after several attempts and severe risks of ripping out nails, we finally managed to get it open. You'll want to be extra careful opening your phone, and hope to only have to do it once.

There is no physical home button, instead all of the options are touch-sensitive. You have one icon that will bring up more options, a home icon, a return icon and a search icon. All are quite responsive and well integrated within the different apps.

There is a flaw in this design, though. Because there is no physical home button, the only way to wake up the phone is to press the power button. The power button, though, is not as responsive as the rest of the phone and there is a slight lag between the time you press it and the phone actually waking up.

Additionally, going from the power button to the screen to unlock it does not feel as comfortable as going from a home button to the screen. Of course, it's only a detail, but it's the details that make all the difference.

ZTE Icons

ZTE Grand X: Display

The phone has a 4.3 inch display, with a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels. Not great if judged against other phones being made these days, but still good enough.

The camera has a resolution of 5 megapixels, again not the best resolution out there, but considering just a few years ago, all you could get from your camera phone was a grainy image that resembled only slightly the reality you were trying to capture, progress has been made and 5 megapixels is not bad at all.

The phone's screen does offer a very bright, smooth display and everything looks good. There is a tendency for Android phones to have a painted-on look - like they lack depth - this may be due to the thickness of the glass, or simply to the default saturation and contrast, but this one has the same look as the others.

ZTE Grand X: Operating System and Performance

The phone runs on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and the interface runs smoothly.

As well as the core Google apps which come pre-loaded, you can, of course, download extra apps for the phone from the Google Play store. There are now over 700,000 apps available, which offers a pretty extensive range, including some apps exclusive to Android.

But remember, if you expect to download a lot of apps, you will definitely want to buy a memory card.

Because this is a phone running on Google's operating system, it has a flawless Google integration. This means you'll get a Gmail app, a YouTube app, a Maps one and even Google+. If you have a Gmail account, you can use the specifically targeted app, which offers a great integration for the phone, otherwise you can resort to using the mail app which, frankly, doesn't offer anything specifically noteworthy.

The search feature for the phone is obviously powered by Google and the voice control is not bad at all. And you may appreciate the fact that you have access to the Google Maps app, no fear of turning left into the sea or driving onto an airplane runway with this one. Be grateful.

If you are coming from another operating system, you may find this one has a bit of getting used to. It is not as intuitive as iOS, but it is not complicated enough to warrant reading the instruction booklet - do phones even come with those anymore?

ZTE bottom

When you are typing - emails or messages, whatever - you will have access to the TouchPal keyboard: you can go from one letter to another by simply swiping your finger across the keyboard, no need to actually take your finger off the keyboard and type each letter individually.

It definitely takes some getting used to in order to go at a fast pace, one that warrants using the feature to actually gain time, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty nifty and is quite smart, usually guessing the right words.

Apart from the slight lag in reaction from the power button, the phone operates fast and smoothly. It doesn't suffer from any major problems and will only take a few hours to get used to the major features.

You can also drag your icons onto the home screen and Android also allows you to add widgets to your home screens, personalising them as you wish. All very flexible and quite nice.

All in all, a good mid-market phone that will challenge phones from the likes of Samsung and HTC. Not the best in the market by far, but not the worst either. And at £200, it won't break the bank.

Scores

    •  Display - 7/10
    •  Performance - 7/10
    •  Build Quality - 7/10
    •  Camera - 6/10
    •  Overall - 7/10