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ZTE Grand S: hands-on with the slimmest 5-inch phone (CES 2013)

Measuring a paltry 6.9mm in depth, Shangahi-based ZTE claims that its ZTE Grand S is the ‘thinnest quad-core five-inch smartphone’ in existence. We’re willing to bet that it’s one of slimmest, too since it feels almost ridiculously feather-light in the hand.

Its large 5-inch touchscreen has a bezel of barely 3mm, though it tapers outwards into a coloured plastic surround that also adorns the rear. It’s a clever way to appear almost bezel-less without actually being so, though it’s executed within a simple, fuss-free design, with curved corners helping create a soft, though polished look.

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The Grand S joins (and, according to ZTE, ‘completes’) the Grand Series that already stars the Era and the X handsets, though at CES 2013 ZTE’s booth was entirely given over to demo units of this newest addition. It was a colourful sight, with the Grand S displayed in a rainbow of different colour casings including pink, red, sky blue and a shocking yellow unit, as well as white, black and grey models.

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A latest-gen Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 1.7GHz quad-core CPU help create a similarly swish navigation amid a pretty standard Android 4.1 Jelly Bean environment. Cameras comprise a 13-megapixel rear (which is positioned on the left, and can shoot Full HD video) and a two megapixel front-facer, also on the left side. There’s a microSD card slot on the lower right, a SIM slot on the lower left, and a headphones slot on the top of the device.

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Although it’s a Full HD phone with a 1920×1080 pixel resolution, it’s the screen that proves the major disappointment on the Grand S from out hands-on time. View it head-on and it’s faultless, but tip the phone to the side and the screen drains of colour and brightness quite alarmingly.  Does that matter on a smartphone? Yes it does; while playing the Riptide GP game app, and turning the phone from side to side to steer, it was often difficult to see on the screen what was going on in the game particularly during the sharp turns. 

The ZTE Grand S will launch in China in February, and around the world in summer.


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