Jan 14 AT 8:57 AM Nick Gray 23 Comments

Video: Hands-on with the ZTE Grand S


By now, it’s pretty evident that 2013 will be the year of 5-inch 1080 displays on all flagship Android phones. HTC kicked off the trend a few months ago with the HTC J Butterfly and Droid DNA, and now ZTE and every other OEM has followed suit. The ZTE Grand S may not have stolen the mobile limelight at CES, but the handset’s flagship specs and unique design have made ZTE a strong contender in the mobile space.

While at CES, we had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the ZTE Grand S. The handset’s unibody shell gives the device a premium feel, though we were a bit surprised by how light the phone is. Based on what we saw at ZTE’s booth, the Grand S will be available in nearly a half-dozen colors which include white, gray, black, pink, teal and red with a variety of different finishes. The white ZTE Grand S looks to similar to the HTC One X, but once you hold the other colors, it’s clear that ZTE has come up with a design that’s beautiful and completely unique from any device that’s currently on the market.

Those hoping for stock Android will be disappointed to hear that the ZTE Grand S will ship with a custom skin on top of Android Jelly Bean. The graphical elements of ZTE’s custom skin is quite impressive, but the company’s software engineers have quite a bit of work ahead of them to smooth things out before launch. During our time with the Grand S, we found that the phone was extremely slow and unresponsive. Launching applications took 3-4 attempts and we even had a hard time when trying to unlock the phone. Fortunately, things fared a lot better when we installed an alternate launcher on the Grand S.

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What are your thoughts on the ZTE Grand S? Do you think ZTE has what it takes to complete directly with Sony, Samsung, HTC and Motorola.

ZTE Grand S spec highlights

  • quad-core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor
  • 5-inch 1,920 x 1,080p ful HD display
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Android Jelly Bean
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • 13 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front-facing camera
Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. He started HTCsource.com (the first HTC blog) back in 2007 and later joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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  • nmoline

    That’s just silly, can ZTE not make more money by releasing a phone with these specs, throwing Stock JB on there and selling it in the USA?

    Seems like that would be easy money, the skin is only going to lose them money.

    • Thomas Biard

      Exactly! I can’t tell if manufacturers think they are making Android better, or are just doing it for branding purposes, but each manufacturer having its own UI leaves a lot of room for error, as seen by a phone with these specs but still can’t function smoothly.

      All manufacturers need the option to disable are UI/Skin.

      • Lance Bell

        As far as I know the manufacturers skin Android because the carriers tell them to. Supposed to be easier to sell (differentiate) the phones to consumers if they have different software.

      • redraider133

        I wish there was an option to disable the skin, but it seems like each manufacturer wants to “stand out” against the competition. I think the first manufacturer that started using stock would stand out a lot more especially with how much stock has improved compared to when skins were necessary on android.

  • nikhilverma

    great specs

  • Co1e

    I would have loved to see stock as well. The specs sound good but I’m sure the off-contract price of this will be a hard pill to swallow, at least for my poor ass.

  • kusic

    Even ZTE wants to have its own skin to differentiate from others. It is just the way manufacturers do things. But I must say that with this design, they actually don’t have to…

  • R.S

    No expandable memory? Not sure I like that. Actually, I know that I don’t like that!

    • redraider133

      He says in the video it has a micro sd slot

      • R.S

        I stand corrected.

        Just watched the video again and you are right, Nick does mention (and quickly show) a micro SD slot.

        • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

          It’s also visible in several of the images as well.

    • Hom0ncruse

      final nail in the coffin for ZTE Grand Azz

      • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

        If they can get the software fixed, this will actually put ZTE in an incredible position in 2013.

  • www.phonewbie.com

    Is this proof that smooth software is more important that 2GB of RAM?

  • jamal adam

    I think that if they have their own skin/UI, the least they could do is get rid of the lag, stuttering, and any other performance issues. Otherwise go with what’s best, which is stock Jelly Bean, because no customer in their right mind wants a device that is slow, laggy, and a pain in the ass.

  • master94

    You wrote 2GB of Ram twice. Hope to see this sateside

  • Nathan D.

    I want these specs in my next phone or even better a eight core processor :-)

  • mario_1603

    nice phone

  • VS

    It would be a crime for that device, with those specs, to ship with a skinned UI that stutters, lags and just leaves folks thinking that Android sucks.

    Please fix the software, if nothing else but to not give the rest of the OEMs a bad rap.

  • Stella

    This is a beautiful phone with great specs but I can do without the skin.

  • donger

    Come to NA, sell it for Cricket or Virgin Mobile.

  • gill

    all well, yet my son forgot his password and we have been trying to find a way to get the zte work again…..eventually ending up, after lots of codes etc, at a point where there is the option for factory reset….push button…and guess what….needs password.

    hard reset is supposed to be for when passwords etc are lost

  • 1bmwdrvr1

    It’s to bad that the photos of the phone have to show the ” theft prevention ” device attached to the unit, almost as if Author and Photographer were not to be trusted! The photos too were not intended fot the American market’s taste, unfortunately showing the home screen with an ” Asian ” character or two on the screen immediately cheapens the image of the device. It’s the truth, please don’t ” kill the messenger”.
    The authors comments about the UI challenge was the final nail in the coffin for this phone. I hope for ZTE’S sake this piece doesn’t find wide readership in the West…