We first saw the Chinese device manufacturers Huawei and ZTE pushing aggressively into the premium segment of the smartphone market at the Comsumer Electronics Show earlier this year and this trend continues at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Huawei yesterday launched the Ascend P2 and ZTE followed shortly after with the Grand Memo. While ZTE's Grand S launched at CES has a 5-inch screen, with its 5.7-inch display the Grand Memo firmly falls into the 'phablet' category where it competes with devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note or LG Optimus Vu.
The Grand Memo doesn't offer the Samsung's S-Pen stylus, but is otherwise looking good on the spec-sheet. It's the first device to use Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor and comes with Dolby Digital Plus sound.
On the back you'll find a not further specified 13MP camera which is capable of face recognition and 1080p video recording. A large 3200mAh battery should get you through the day without a need for recharging. There is also a DLNA-out port for displaying content on a larger screen.
Softwarewise, the Grand Memo is running Android 4.1.2 with the ZTE Mifavour UI on top. ZTE-provided apps include voice-controlled navigation and ZTE Safe, an app that combines power management, software management, security and data usage monitoring functions.
We had a chance to play with the Grand Memo at the ZTE booth and the device appears very swift and responsive in operation but in terms of materials and build-quality is not quite on the same level as the Grand S. The Grand Memo's back is all-plastic and, like the front, very prone to fingerprint smearing. As you can see in our pictures the device is quite large but can be held with one hand. The UI of the ZTE phone app has also be designed to ensure one-handed dialling is possible.
Overall the Grand Memo looks like decent phablet but doesn't offer any obvious reasons to prefer it over the competition. There are no details on pricing and availability yet. ZTE says the Grand Memo is expected to launch the second quarter of 2013 with specifications varying between countries and regions.
ZTE Grand Memo headline specifications: