ZTE's affordable dual core LTE entry, the Grand X T82, combines decent performance and display with somewhat plain design. How does it feel in everyday use?
ZTE, the close second on the Chinese phone vendors' throne after Huawei, has increasingly re-focused on the consumer market, including Asia-Pacific, after quite a few of its enterprise hardware efforts got curtailed by the Western governments questionable protection measures on one side, and increased competition within China, on the other side. Their new smartphone range aims to be on a par with the best that, at very least, Huawei can do, and competitive with what the overseas brands create.
We have a quick look here at their "Grand X" T82 Android ICS-based LTE Band3&7 smartphone, enabling up to 100 Mbps 4G-speed comms if your provider and area of coverage allow so. It's quite a large unit at 130.9×65×11.1mm. First of all, the plain designed white plastic back casing with black front is dominated by the 4.3 inch qHD – nicer name for the 960×540 moviescreen 16:9 – glossy screen. Now, I'm resolutely against 16:9 on any PCs or tablets, but on the smartphone, this format may actually make some sense, as it makes the phone longer and easier to grasp, especially if one doesn't have a very large hand. If watching the 1920×1080 FullHD content, then this phone's resolution will nicely display that without blurring as there'd be simple halving of the resolution on each axis. The display itself had decent colour range and can handle being in the outdoor lighting except very strong sunshine, where the glare becomes a bit too much.
Even though this isn't the top end model – the Grand Era would be the one – it still has a reasonably powerful dual core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 CPU with integrated Adreno 225 GPU, a new 28 nm process iteration of Qualcomm's ARM smartphone processors. There's 768 MB usable RAM out of 1 GB total, as well as s 4 GB flash capacity plus a microSD memory slot, where we had another 32 GB card inserted. The dual camera config has a rear 8MP camera with flashlight and 1080p recording support, as well as a front end 1 Mpix 720p HD camera for videoconferencing.
In the daily use, the 1900 mAh LiIon battery could last good two days on idle, not bad for a reasonably high end device. What was more interesting was to see the performance of the phone's underlying hardware using the brand new Sandra Mobile and Passmark Mobile benchmarks, and set a reference against the other models. The Android phone bench applets, especially comprehensive tests like Sandra or Passmark, are still rare, so running two of those suites, and checking the experiences, was quite a temptation.
Here are our first Sandra Mobile and Passmark results:
|Passmark CPU Tests||5508|
|Passmark Disk Tests||1889|
|Passmark Memory Tests||2661|
|Passmark 2D Graphics Tests||2192|
|Passmark 3D Graphics Tests||645|
|Sandra Aggregate Native Arithmetic Performance||610MOPS|
|Sandra Aggregate Native Multi-Media Performance||5025kPix/s|
|Sandra Aggregate Crypto Bandwidth||54MB/s|
|Sandra Aggregate Memory Performance||3424MB/s|
|Futuremark Peacekeeper HTML5 Benchmark||395 marks|
When playing 3-D games like the AE 3D motorbike, the phone was fully responsive, except a few glitches which could be driver-related. The display resolution seems to be sufficient for decent web browsing, including standard PC-sized web pages, when using the horizontal mode. If you want higher resolution here, it may actually make sense to go with a larger 5-inch class 'phablet' configuration like what Samsung Galaxy Note has, or the upcoming ZTE's own 1080p model in this class.
In summary, this is a pretty good LTE starter phone, with sufficient hardware strength to support lots of stuff to be downloaded and ran from a high speed LTE network. The minus points are likely need for more integrated flash memory (I'd start with 8 GB there) and the design which could be somewhat thinner and overall more impressive – even Intel's first Atom phone, the Xolo 900, looks more physically attractive.