Feb 26th, 2013

2013 looks to be the year of the phablet here at Mobile World Congress, and ZTE wasn’t going to leave the show without putting forth their contender. Following on the heels of the surprisingly impressive Grand S, the ZTE Grand Memo is a 5.7-inch behemoth pushing a 720p resolution display, 13MP camera, and a quad-core Qualcomm CPU. That’s where things get a bit confusing.

Announced yesterday, ZTE touted the phone as shipping with Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 800 CPU. The only problem was, after asking around on the show floor we were unable to confirm this with any representative from either company. Whether or not it will ship with the 800 (and it’s looking likely it won’t, at least not initially), the version we tested most certainly was running on the Snapdragon 600 platform clocked at 1.5GHz.

The processing power, coupled with 1GB of RAM, was serviceable in navigating through ZTE’s custom interface tweaks. Even with some heftier widgets, the phone held up pretty well. The standard Snapdragon performance won’t turn many heads (that’s where that Snapdragon 800 would have com into play), which seems to be how this device rolls. Aside from being gigantic, it won’t stick out much in an increasingly crowded market.

We have come to expect the 5-inch+ category to be synonymous with high-end specs, but with the Memo this isn’t entirely the case. ZTE has been known for their affordable offerings, so it’s understandable that we don’t get a 1080p display. This shortcoming is balanced by some of the other specs the phone is touting. The 13MP camera is quickly becoming the standard for top-tier phones, a beefy 3,200mAh battery provides plenty of life, and Dolby Digital Plus Surround Sound offers a premium audio experience.

The Grand Memo left us feeling a bit underwhelmed. Another phone with a big screen, but why choose it over the Huawei Ascend Mate (let alone the Galaxy Note 2), ZTE’s main competitor for this handset. As is the script for most Chinese manufacturers, it’s a long shot if the phone even makes it over to the US. As for other areas of the world it should be shipping later this year.


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