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ZTE Grand Memo review

ZTE Grand Memo

A huge phone, but no Samsung-style stylus

Phones that are a bit like tablets and tablets that are a bit like phones – everyone’s at it at MWC, and ZTE is no exception.

The Grand Memo is more phone than tablet, but it still has a huge 5.7in display. This is even bigger than the Galaxy Note 2‘s 5.5in model, but lags behind the Galaxy Note 3‘s rumoured 6.3in screen.

ZTE Grand Memo
You like 3D mushrooms? We have 3D mushrooms!

Like the Galaxy Note 2’s screen, the Grand Memo’s display isn’t especially high-resolution at 1,280×720 pixels. While this is a lower resolution than the 1,920×1,080 that’s becoming increasingly common on high-end smartphones like the Sony Xperia Z and HTC One, this is still enough for watching films and viewing desktop web pages; after all, this hands-on was written on a laptop with a 1,366×768 screen, which isn’t that much higher-definition than the Grand Memo’s display.

ZTE Grand Memo
No stylus, but an excellent onscreen keyboard

The phone’s design isn’t anything spectacular, but neither does it feel cheap. We liked the soft plastic cover on the rear, which reminded us of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8‘s plastic rear.

ZTE has really gone to town on the operating system. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean has been given some very fancy 3D effects, and whether or not you approve is really down to personal taste. On the handsets on show at MWC the Android homescreen had a 3D background with a large pink mushroom on some very green grass, and the mushroom rotates as you flick between homescreens. It’s all very Super Mario Galaxy. The handset’s quad-core Qualcomm 800 processor ran Jelly Bean smoothly, but the 3D animations weren’t as smooth as we’d like.

ZTE Grand Memo
Rubik’s Cube-inspired 3D app trays finally come to Android

The Memo doesn’t have a stylus, unlike the Galaxy Note 2, so any memos you take will be with the excellent onscreen keyboard, which we found incredibly easy to use. We’re fans of the Note 2’s stylus and its excellend handwriting recognition, so it’s a shame not to see such an innovation here.

If ZTE’s past form is anything to go by, the Memo should come at a knockdown price. Unfortunately, right now that’s just speculation, as no UK price or release date has been announced.

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