Much of the innovation in Android right now is happening on the budget side of things. At a time when high-end phones are making largely incremental improvements over previous models, low-end handsets have gone from being barely functional iPhone sales pieces to compelling devices that make for great starter phones.
The original ZTE Imperial was certainly not top-of-the-line, but the phone was affordable and its specs weren't particularly embarrassing at the time. Now a successor is available from US Cellular that delivers more phone for even less money.
Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE still hasn't made a dent in the US market in any significant way, but it did turn heads with the ZMAX for T-Mobile, combining a big 5.7-inch screen and a spacious battery with a low price tag. The new Grand X Max, coming to budget carrier Cricket on October 10th, is even bigger and cheaper. This massive 6-inch phone will pack a beefy 3200mAh battery, all for just $199.99 without a contract.
People seem to love gigantic screens on their phones - just ask Samsung (or Apple). And of course, plenty of customers want phones that are cheap, or at least cheaper than the flagships. And the one thing that everyone wants is longer battery life. ZTE and T-Mobile are going to try to please the intersection of these market segments with the ZMAX, a big phone with a big battery and (impressively) a small price tag.
Plenty of US smartphone users have owned a ZTE device, but they might not know it. The Chinese OEM has been providing phones for carriers to re-brand for years, but its US presence has grown considerably. The unlocked Nubia 5S Mini will be a test of how positively the brand is viewed when it launches on August 27th for $279 on Amazon.
It seems like it's hard to find a non-Nexus device that uses anything close to stock Android. Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, Asus, Acer - everywhere you look there are customizations to a greater or lesser extent. Even Motorola, formerly Google's own subsidiary, uses a custom launcher. Chinese manufacturer ZTE is looking to break that trend, however. The company is planning to launch new smartphones that use the Google Now Launcher (AKA the Google Experience Launcher) by default.
You can't have everything, which is why the ZTE Concord II exists. This entry-level smartphone has just been announced for T-Mobile and Metro PCS. It will be on sale later today on the magenta carrier and next week on Metro PCS.
This phone isn't going to set the world on fire with its specs, but it's going to be available in carrier stores for cheap. Here's the full spec sheet.
Industrial design is becoming increasingly important as the specs of high-end phones start to level out. Sometimes a company can get a little too excited about its design prowess, and that's when things get leaky. That may be the case with ZTE's unannounced Grand S EXT, which has shown up on the Red-Dot 21 design directory.
One year ago we took a look at the original Grand Memo, ZTE's mid-range entry in the bustling "phablet" market. Fast forward and ZTE is back at Mobile World Congress, showing off a new and improved version called the Grand Memo II LTE, that's better in every way... but still not really good enough to elicit a "wow" of surprise. Check out our hands-on video below.
The Grand Memo II bumps up the screen size to 6.0 inches, putting it squarely in between the largest of the conventional smartphones and low-cost tablets.
The phablet market is exploding, and just about every manufacturer wants a piece of the oversized pie. Here at Mobile World Congress ZTE has just announced the Grand Memo II LTE, the successor to last year's Grand Memo. It ups the screen size to a full 6 inches of IPS goodness. Well, maybe goodness - they aren't saying what the resolution is just yet, just "HD," which I'll assume means 720p.
Finding competent Android smartphones at an affordable price just isn't as difficult as it used to be. There's the Nexus 5 for people who want a phone for $349.99 that remains competitive with largely anything out there. There's the HTC Desire 601 for $279.99 for anyone who wants Sense but doesn't want to fork over the money for one of the manufacturer's flagship devices. And for people who really don't want to spend over $200, there's the Moto G.