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Hands-On: ZTE Grand Memo II LTE

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Feb 24, 2014, 6:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE showed off a sequel to its flagship phablet. The Grand Memo II LTE is a gigantic device. Here are our first impressions of ZTE's latest monolithic piece of hardware.

Grand Memo II LTE 

ZTE made a big splash with the Grand Memo II LTE, a follow-up to its super-phablet from last year. The device packs a lot of features into an incredibly thin body. Here are our first impressions.

The Grand Memo II LTE measures 7.2mm thick. It's hard not to notice just how thin it is. Few phones are thinner. That doesn't mean it is small. In fact, quite the opposite. This phablet has a 6-inch screen and the footprint to match. The length and width are significant. I had a hard time wrapping my hand around the device. Large it may be, but it is surprisingly light.

The design is somewhat interesting. The device is being offered in black and white. The top and bottom edges are rounded in a pleasing way. The back surface has an attractive carbon-fiber-like pattern that looks good in both colors. There are no buttons on the front and the screen fills most of the face. According to ZTE, the display accounts for 80% of the front surface, which is a couple percentage points more so than most other devices out there. (Read: Big screen, small bezel.)

I liked the display, though it wasn't as impressive as that of the Sony Xperia Z2. The Grand Memo II LTE has a 6-inch screen. ZTE calls it HD, but didn't specify 1080p or 720p. My guess is 720p. It didn't look as sharp as it should have to my eyes. It was plenty bright, though, and viewing angles were quite good.

Grand Memo II LTE  

The volume toggle is on the left. The travel and feedback are OK, but not great. The screen lock button is on the right edge, about in the middle. This makes it easier to find. Travel and feedback were OK. There are three different trays on the right edge with it for SIM cards (dual-SIM variant) and memory cards. The microUSB port is on the bottom and the headphone jack is on the top.

The Grand Memo II LTE's biggest failings are materials and build quality. ZTE staffers were unable to tell us if the models on hand were pre-production units, and given the poor quality of their assembly, we can only hope that's the case. The pieces fit together poorly, with large gaps and seams apparent. The device felt creaky in the hand, and not-at-all polished or classy. In fact, it felt cheap. I truly hope the production models ZTE starts to kick out later this year are put together in a better manner.

ZTE calls its Android user interface skin MiFavor 2.3. It is minor and not overly intrusive. ZTE uses its own fonts and app icons. I used three different models here in Barcelona and all of them were buggy. We'll give ZTE the benefit of the doubt on these not-final units, but the company does have some work to do to smooth out the rough edges. I saw some stuttery screen transitions, a lot of lag, and general poor performance throughout.

ZTE hasn't said if the Grand Memo II LTE will make it to the U.S. market.

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About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.

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