26
Feb
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Late yesterday, we headed over to the ZTE booth to check out the company's latest smartphone - the Grand Memo. The selling point? It's big and powerful - sporting a 5.7" display with a Snapdragon 800 600 processor of some kind.

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Of course, that big display is only 720p. And that processor is paired with only 1GB of RAM. And it's using ZTE's Android acid trip of a UI overlay. ZTE also wasn't very honest about a couple of these specifications when the phone was initially announced. Basically, I wouldn't expect to see the ZTE Grand Memo make it very far outside China.

So, is it any good? Well, to be honest, ZTE's crazy UI is the only real story with this phone, and that same crazy UI is on the much more palm-able Grand S that was unveiled at CES. It also ran a lot better on that phone, for whatever reason. If I had to choose between the two, I'd take the Grand S's ultra-thin profile and much better-looking hardware in a heartbeat.

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That said, I probably wouldn't want either, because ZTE's insane UI just has all kinds of weirdness going on that gets in the way of regular use. Everything is 3D, and almost everything can be interacted with. You can spin the minute and hour 'blocks' on the primary clock widget, and there's a pocket watch widget that lets you slightly tilt the watch in various directions... because why not?

Everything about ZTE's software seems to say "look at me!," but nothing about it really says "here's a good reason why you should look." It's eye candy and gimmicks and 3D fireworks.

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The phone itself was also unusually slow and choppy at times, especially when switching tasks. This is probably because of the rather anemic 1GB of RAM included in the Grand Memo, which simply doesn't make sense on a modern, high-end Android phone.

Regardless, you probably won't be able to buy the Grand Memo anyway, and you probably wouldn't want to at this point after all the specification kerfuffle.

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Bill Collier

    The screen size is interesting.

  • old lol

    Leave the software for the pros. Making good software is much more difficult than hardware.

  • Kenny O

    Are we even sure that's really a 13.0 mega pixel camera?

  • Ivan Myring

    Probably not even snapdragon. Its probably mediatek or something like that

  • IvanP

    buahhahha, processor of some kind... great :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001214715040 Dee Bee

    Anything beyond 5 inches should never be classified as a phone. How ridiculous that will look at your ear. 4.7 to 5 inches is best for a smartphone.

    • Toan Nguyen

      If it functions as a phone it is a phone.

    • gspida

      Tell that to the 5 million plus users with the Note 2 which happens to be 5.3 inches. I am hoping that the Note 3 or some other worthy phone comes in around 6 myself. I never talk on my phone like a phone (I use headphones), but I always use my phone like a tablet :)

    • Yu Liu

      I don't know, personally I don't care what size of phone, as long as the screen has to be bigger than 4.3 inches. I went to best buy with my friend couple weeks ago, while we were checking out the Galaxy Note 2, there were a couple of old people around 60s something.. The old man hold the Note 2 for a while, then asked the best buy employee: do you have something with bigger screen than this? Also, my uncles, my aunts who are in their late 40s, early 50s also asked my opinion about smartphone, guess what they all wanted: some kinda phone that has bigger screen than 5 inches... So I guess for many (not all) above 45, big phones are the plus for them, cause easier to navigate around the menu and easier to surf web..etc.. of course there are more good reasons why the Note 2 itself or something similarly (except for the LG Optimus VU i guess - cause the screen ratio is so ridiculous) are selling so well...

    • ltredbeard

      I hardly ever use my phone to make calls, so this wouldn't be a problem for me. Plus in the car I can use Bluetooth and at home speakerphone.

  • mauric

    The plastic back looks familiar to me. Which pebble was it? Oh wait, It seems the hardware had a small internal fight which the camera lost in the end. Result: it was pushed half trough the skin. It seriously looks like they forgot the camera and glued it on the back three minutes before the presentation.

  • John O’Connor

    OMFG.. The camera is a tumorous growth on an otherwise mediocre device. I am really disappointed at the confirmed "lies" regarding specs of this device. The processor, the memory... and like Kenny O said above, can we even be sure that the camera is 13mp? I will take that one step further and ask the MWC reps to pull out a ruler to recheck the screen size on this bad boy... and it is bad (and I do not mean that in a good way)

  • jlschulz098

    I cant imagine anyone buying a Chinesephone. Do you really want everything you do monitored by the communists ??????