ZTE, like local rival Huawei, is desperately trying to establish itself as one of the bigger international smartphone players, focusing more and more on high-end "hero" devices. To that end, at a very businesslike (and rather awkward) Mobile World Congress press conference this week, the company revealed the Grand Memo. A 5.7-inch Galaxy Note-class device, the Memo incorporates high-end internals and a massive 5.7-inch 720p display.
As per ZTE's presser, the Grand Memo runs Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU, though ZTE says the chipsets used will vary depending on country. (Update: ZTE staffers on the show floor tell us that the demo units on display are running Snapdragon S4 Pro (8064) chips, and that several different versions of the Memo will be available, including the Snapdragon 800-powered model announced earlier this week.)
For what it's worth, the company also had an NVIDIA Tegra 3-based Grand Memo on show at its MWC booth, however that device was unstable and extremely hot to the touch.
Other hardware notables include 2GB of RAM (1GB on the S4 version), 16GB of storage, 4G LTE support and a 13MP rear camera. The physical hardware of the Memo is standard smartphone fare -- a black slab with a plastic back and three buttons down below. On the back, a plastic battery cover. We saw several different back covers on the Grand Memo demo units at the show -- glossy, textures and matte versions in white and various shades of blue. Overall, the hardware is perfectly serviceable, if not outstanding.
Head past the break for more first impressions, along with more photos and video.
On the software side, ZTE's sporting a colorful Android UI with plenty of unnecessary 3D animation. There's a clock widget that you can spin around, and the app drawer is overflowing with 3D elements when you scroll from side to side. Overall, it's a world away from the subdued, minimal tones of stock Android. It also seems ZTE's got some optimizing to do, as the software on the Memo wasn't as fast as we'd expect from a next-gen handset running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
It's easy days for the Grand Memo, and we're reluctant to judge it based on the janky pre-production devices on show today. But if nothing else it shows ZTE, like Huawei, is prepared to venture further into the high-end with 5-to-6-inch devices. ZTE says the Memo will launch globally during the second quarter with "varying specifications" in different countries.