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ZTE Grand X review

ZTE impresses with a dual-core stock Android 4.0 device for the masses

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Though the ZTE Grand X's run-of-the-mill screen doesn't make for the best portable video experience in the Android range, its expandable storage and excellent audio performance makes it brilliant for music.

Music

Audio for both music and video is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of Dolby Mobile.

We're not usually big fans of this kind of artificial sound enhancement - it can be the equivalent of the 'base boost' button on rubbishy old stereos - but we have to say it genuinely makes a massive improvement here.

ZTE Grand X review

Dolby Mobile lengthens base, boosts higher frequencies and generally lends a wider, richer sound.

It's also designed to improve the separation of the channels when plugging your phone into a set of speakers.

The Dolby Mobile Control Panel app allows you to turn this feature on and off, and it also provides the ability to adjust the equaliser settings to a few different presets.

There's no fine tuning available, but you can set the sound for Jazz, Metal, Electronic and various other genres.

We're tempted to say that we were impressed with Dolby Mobile only because the Grand X's default audio performance is sub-par - turning it off reveals a weedy, flat sound.

But when the final result is this clear and well balanced, we'll just doff our caps to the good folk at Dolby and commend ZTE for including it in the Grand X. Regardless of the tricks that are being played to make us feel this way.

ZTE Grand X review

The ZTE Grand X makes for an excellent personal stereo, then, and this is bolstered by the presence of that microSD slot.

Although you only have 8GB of internal storage to play with, being able to stick in a further 32GB (plus being able to hot swap in even more) means that you could quite comfortably carry your whole music collection around with you - and enjoy it thoroughly through the Grand X.

One word of warning though - if you haven't already, invest in a new set of earbuds; the ones that come with the ZTE Grands X are terrible, leaky things.

Of course, the same could be said for the vast majority of rival efforts. Even HTC has stopped giving away Beats 'buds with its high-end handsets.

ZTE Grand X review

The music player itself is extremely basic, but functional enough. It finds and plays your tracks quickly and efficiently, with the main menu offering access to Artists, Albums, Songs and Playlists.

When playing a track the album art is shown prominently, and pressing the Grand X's menu key offers access back to the library as well as a shortcut to the Dolby Mobile Control Panel.

You can also delete or set the track as a ringtone from here.

There's a simple widget for the music player, though it only enables you to pause or skip to the next track. For greater control you have to go into the music player itself.

File support is decent - we played MP3, AAC and WAV files without any issues whatsoever.

Video

As we've mentioned, the ZTE Grand X isn't the device we'd turn to if we wanted to watch a film on a plane journey, but it still handles video content more than comfortably.

While that 4.3-inch 960x540 screen isn't the biggest, sharpest or most vibrant, its slightly more muted colours actually work reasonably well with video content, producing realistic skin tones and reasonable blacks.

ZTE Grand X review

Even when streaming content through the stock YouTube app, or from the free-to-download Netflix app, the image remains sharp and fairly faithful - though it's a little on the dark side.

Most importantly, high-definition video content is processed without a hitch - again thanks to that potent Tegra 2 CPU.

ZTE Grand X review

We should note that the Tegra 2 chip traditionally struggles with decoding certain types of full 1080p video, but considering that playing such high resolution footage on the Grand X's qHD screen is pointless, we can't really pull it up for this.

You may well encounter troubles playing some of your home-ripped Blu-Rays through the phone, though.

As with audio, so video benefits from Dolby Mobile integration on the ZTE Grand X.

It ensures that music is nicely separated between the channels when using a decent set of headphones, and there's even a movie mode accessible from the Dolby Mobile Control Panel app.

The ZTE Grand X ships with the Google Play Movies app pre-installed, though this is simply a shortcut to the movies you may have purchased or rented through the Google Play store.

Either way, you can rent films from just 99p.

Photos

The default Gallery app here is another stock Android ICS example, and it's predictably fine.

ZTE Grand X review

You can view your snaps by album, locations, times, people or tags via a drop-down menu at the top-left of the screen, and individual photos are rendered through a scrolling list of thumbnails.

As we've mentioned, such thumbnails don't look quite as good here as they should, as it's been designed with large HD displays in mind. Still, it's an intuitive way to browse through your photos.

From the Gallery app you can also crop and rotate your pictures, as well as setting them as a contact photo or wallpaper.

You can also make use of Android 4.0's excellent sharing facilities, bringing up a list of all the installed apps that can be used to share images in some way.

There's also a dedicated Dropbox button for manually uploading your images to the cloud.

ZTE Grand X review

That's not all you can do with your pictures either.

Through the Grand X's DLNA connectivity and the bundled Full Share app, we were able to view our snaps through our PS3 in seconds with no cables and no lengthy set-up.

We'll discuss that further a little later, but suffice to say it's a great way to review your pictures.