ZTE Grand S review

9 Jan 2013
ZTE grand S

ZTE’s Grand S is the latest 1080p Full HD smartphone to launch at CES 2013, matching the competition with a quad-core processor

ZTE has revealed the Grand S, its newest flagship smartphone, at the CS 2013 show in Las Vegas. It's a 5in, Full HD powerhouse that hopes to compete with the other 1080p devices launched at the show by taking the title of "world's thinnest". We've just got back from the company's stand to bring you our hands-on impressions.

At a sprightly 6.9mm thick, the Grand S is significantly thinner than competing smartphones and slips easily into a pocket - despite its huge 5in display. It's built from polycarbonate plastic and available in a range of colours, including cyan, yellow and pink, as well as a more traditional black and white.

ZTE grand S

The 5in screen has the same 443ppi pixel density as the Huawei Ascend D2 and Sony's Xperia Z, making it virtually impossible to see the pixel structure unless you put the phone under a magnifying glass. We weren't too impressed with its brightness on the show floor, but that could partly be because of the incredibly bright lighting on the show floor. Otherwise, both pictures and video looked pin-sharp and colours were reasonably vibrant.

ZTE grand S

We took a few test snaps using the rear 13-megapixel camera, and were reasonably impressed - it's capable of sharp images with bright colour, although we won't know what it's low light performance is like until we get a UK review model. There's an LED flash on the back and a 2-megapixel webcam on the front for video chats.

ZTE grand S

We were slightly concerned that the 1,780mAh battery will struggle to power the 1080p display for very long - it's roughly half the size of competing 5in smartphones like the Sony Xperia Z and Huawei Ascend D2. No-one on the ZTE stand could tell us how long it will last on a full charge, but with a 4G modem on board we aren't convinced you'll get much use between charges.

ZTE has installed its own custom interface over the default Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS, but has for the most part refrained from altering the formula too greatly. Aside from a few custom icons and a redesigned status bar, it's still easily recognizable as an Android device.

ZTE grand S

The one exception, and perhaps the phone's most intriguing feature, is the omnipresent settings orb, which can be dragged around the screen and placed anywhere you choose. It sits on top of any open apps so it’s always in view, and lets you access the home, back, menu and the frequent apps buttons at any time. It would be a useful feature, if the phone didn't have physical buttons anyway - why ZTE felt the need to include this is something of a mystery. Annoyingly, the buttons themselves aren't backlit, making them difficult to use in the dark.

The phone is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon S4 CPU running at 1.7GHz, joined by 2GB of RAM - it's more than powerful enough to run Android smoothly, and had no problems rendering ZTE's custom UI or playing games. There's also 16GB of internal storage and a MicroSD card slot for adding more capacity later.

Expected to launch in China within the next few months, and the US by the summer, we don't yet know when the Grand S will make its way to the UK.

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