Hands on with ZTE's Giant Grand Memo II Smartphone

ZTE this week announced a brand new Grand smartphone. Dubbed the ZTE Grand Memo II LTE, the device packs a huge 6-inch IPS HD display, a Snapdragon 400 CPU, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of onboard storage, a 13-megapixel camera in the back, a 5-megapixel camera up front, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, and a 3200 mAh battery. If you're trying to categorize this phone into high-end flagship or affordable, you'll have a hard time. The truth is that it's a little of column A and a little of column B. Though it might seem like it's neither here nor there, it's an interesting development. So often we see affordable phones that just don't excite at all when it comes to specs. It seems like ZTE is trying to rise above that to an extent with this device.

The device runs on Android 4.4 with ZTE's own custom UI running on top. The company calls this MiFavor and it is, for the most part, fairly unobtrusive, though some users might have a hard time getting used to the little tweaks and changes that give it that unique ZTE flavor. ZTE says it memorizes user habits and offers a customized tailored interface based on the user's needs. We had a chance to go hands on and found a few tweaks we liked and a few we felt didn't really add much to the experience. 

One thing we really liked was that the device allows you to quickly organize your apps into folders. We all understand the merits of organizing apps into categories and folders, but it's a lot of work. By hitting the option key on the lower right hand of the screen, MiFavor gives you the ability to automatically sort your apps into folders. This, of course, means you don't get to choose the categories yourself, but it also means you don't have to do any of the grunt work yourself. You can also revert back to the old tiled, multi-home screen interface at the touch of a button.


The camera is also interesting in that it displays a lot of data on the screen while you're taking photos. This includes various grids and markers to help you frame your photos better, as well as the ISO level and information that most people generally wouldn't pay too much attention to if they're just snapping quick shots. Still, it's nice that this information is readily available if you're trying to get that really great shot but all you have is your smartphone. The phone has 6X digital zoom, but we weren't all that impressed with the quality on max zoom if we're being honest.

We enjoyed our brief time with the ZTE, though we'd love to spend more time with it, so we can get a better idea of how it fares day-to-day, and give it a chance to learn our habits. We'd love to see how that affects the experience. Overall, we're still missing the most important piece of information, which is price. If ZTE prices this right, it could be very successful. Too expensive and it'll be just another underwhelming smartphone that can't stand up against other devices in its price point.

The ZTE Grand Memo II will be available in April in China and is scheduled for release in the USA and other regions after that.

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