Smartphones range from all-singing, all-dancing £400+ devices — flagship models that show off what can be done with hardware design — to sub-£100, even sub-£50 smartphones. The mid-range is very busy, with manufactures vying to fit their phones into different sub-segments, mixing and matching components and features to find a buyer-friendly sweet spot.
The operating system responsible for all this flurry of activity is Android, and every so often it throws up a genuine anomaly. One such is the ZTE Grand X.
This phone is an anomaly because for £200 on pay-as-you-go deal with Virgin Media it offers a 4.3in. screen, Android 4.0 and a 1GHz dual-core processor. For a similar price, rivals tend to offer an older Android version, a less capable processor and a smaller screen.
Even when you do get a higher-end feature, such as the Android 4.0 OS in the HTC Desire C, it's coupled with lower-end ones: the Desire C has a 3.5in. screen and 600MHz processor, for example.
How has ZTE managed the feat with the Grand X? Well, although you get some high-grade specs for mid-grade money, there are compromises elsewhere.
For instance, 5-megapixel camera is laggy, lacks a dedicated button and delivers average to poor-quality images. Also, the battery is arguably not up to the demands of the dual-core processor — certainly if you want to do heavy gaming you'll need access to mains power. ZTE says there's 4GB of internal storage, but fresh out of the box, and after a hard reset to remove any lurking data, my review sample reported just 1.5GB free.
Then there's the build. The Grand X is a slightly fat phone at 9.9mm thick, and its plastic build is mundane. It's solid enough, but lacks any kind of 'look at me' appeal. My review handset ran slightly warm too.
Finally, ZTE has declined to put any development effort into skinning the Android OS — although many might see that as a blessing.
Still, packing the good features into a £200 handset is quite a feat, and in addition to the three headliners — processor, screen size and Android version — there's support for HSPA with download speeds of up to 21Mbps (network permitting).
If you're looking for a large-screen Android 4.0 smartphone on a moderate budget, then the ZTE Grand X is certainly worth serious consideration.