Hands-On: ZTE Grand S II and Iconic Phablet
ZTE debuted the Iconic Phablet at CES this week. Yes, believe it or not, that's the device's real name. It's a mid-range, big-screened phone that provides plenty of real estate but few frills.
The Iconic has a 5.7-inch display, but only 720p HD resolution. The screen looks fairly good, but it doesn't quite live up to the quality of the smaller S II's full HD screen in terms of resolution and sharpness. That said, it is still plenty bright. The screen fills up most of the front panel, though there are capacitive keys below it and the speaker grill above.
Unlike the S II, the Iconic has al aluminum frame. The frame forms about 75% of the rear panel, and the entire outer edge. It's a nice piece of metal, and the blacks are filled in by hardened black plastic. The overall quality of the Iconic eclipses the S II in my opinion thanks to the metal frame and feel. It also looks better.
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The large screen gives the Iconic an extra big footprint, similar to the Note 3 fro Samsung. It is thin and light, though. As with most phablets, the big screen makes it harder to reach the top corners of the display with your thumb. It is a two-handed devices - and it doesn't come with a stylus or any special pen-based software.
The left edge is fairly busy. It houses the SIM card port, volume toggle, and microUSB port. The volume toggle has an excellent profile and acceptable travel and feedback. The screen lock button and a dedicated camera button are both positioned along the right edge. They are small and hard to find, but have good travel and feedback. The headphone jack is on top and there's nothing but speakers along the bottom.
The UI is fast and clean, but the Iconic is free of the voice-activated features of the S II. Instead it runs a close-to-stock version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
ZTE couldn't say of the Iconic Phablet will ever come to the U.S., but it is an interesting device in that it offers a large screen but won't take too big a bite out of your wallet.
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