• Moto Killer? Our ZTE Grand X 2 review


    The ZTE Grand X Plus was and still is one of my favorite budget phones. When it came you out got a brand name phone and way more specs than the competition for only $200. However the competition is starting to heat up so ZTE has a new salvo in the budget phone wars.

    The ZTE Grand X 2 which gives you even more good stuff for even less money.
    vs Motorola Moto G 2015:



    The 2015 Moto G is $50 more and for the added money you get water resistance, a slightly more solid body, better camera, better sounding speakers and presumably, more Android updates. Both have the same Snapdragon 410 SoC but the Gís is clocked slightly higher (1.4 vs 1.2Ghz).



    While you save $50 with the ZTE, you actually gain a few features; First off you get double the RAM. To me 2GB of RAM is the sweet spot. If you switch between a lot of programs a youíll notice a difference when you go from 1 to 2GB. At the same time, anything over 2GB results in diminishing returns.

    Secondly and just as importantly, you get 16GB of storage vs 8GB on the G. Consider this, when I connect the G to my computer it reports that there is 4.5GB of usable space, when I connect the ZTE it says thereís around 11GB. 8GB of storage is do-able but the extra GBs really makes the ZTE easier to live with because youíre less likely to run out of storage.

    Between the 2 itís a tough choice. The ZTEís extra RAM and storage are both good to have. But you can say the same about the Gís better speakers, camera, water resistance and frequent Android updates.

    Anyways, if the bottom line is important then the ZTE is a no-brainer.

    vs Motorola Moto E:



    For about the same money you can also get the Moto E second gen. Iíll keep it short and sweet; the Grand X 2 has double the RAM, double the storage, a much sharper screen. Unless you really absolutely must have the E2ís exchangeable rear sides thereís no reason to get the E.



    Specs:

    • 5Ē IPS LCD
    • 1280x720 resolution
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
    • quad-core 64bit 1.2Ghz ARM Cortex A53
    • Adreno 306 GPU
    • 2GB RAM
    • 16GB storage
    • MicroSD
    • 8 Megapixel camera
    • Autofocus, LED flash
    • 2 Megapixel front camera
    • LTE bands 2/4/5/12/7/17
    • HSPA: 850/1900/2100
    • 145 x 72.8 x 9.3mm
    • 145g
    • 2480mAh
    • Android 5.1


    Body:



    The 2ís body is a bit of a departure from the Grand X and X Plus whose bodies were more or less the same.



    ZTE has classied the 2 up a bit; the back cover has a pretty convincing look leather mould on it. Heck, when you run your finger along the back it even kind of feels like leather but when you tap it, itís obviously very hard plastic. Considering the price though Iím pleased with the back.



    The back comes off but the cover no longer wraps around the sides. As a result the 2 feels a bit sturdier than its predecessors but it still has a way to go before Iíd say itís a really solid phone.



    Under the cover is a removable battery which is starting to become increasingly rare on all phones.



    Itís funny but the sides/frame of the 2 kind of remind me of my old Galaxy S (I think mine was the ďVibrantĒ. The buttons feel similar and the metallic paint is similar. This isnít a good or a bad thing, just a miscellaneous observation.



    The buttons themselves have a nice feel to them and are easy to find and press.



    There are dedicated menu buttons in front below the screen that light up blue. Theyíre handy and donít get in the way when you use them.



    Display:

    You get a 5Ē 1280x720 LCD IPS display. Itís not quite as nice as the Gís display which has the same specs. It doesnít have very dark blacks and the colour is a little bit warmer. It also loses a bit more light off-angle.

    On the other hand, it doesnít have a visible grid pattern on it like the G does when you look up close. You also don'tí have to deal with disappearing on-screen buttons like you do with the G.

    Overall while Iím not blown away, the display is adequate.

    Camera:



    On the back is a 8 megapixel autofocus camera with a LED flash.

    Itís focuses pretty quickly and is pretty easy to use. Considering the price of the Grand, you shouldnít expect too much from the camera and indeed, while itís not a bad sensor, itís not capable of miracles either. Indoors, pictures can get a bit rough and noisy looking but theyíll still be usable if you snap a couple of extras so you can choose.

    Hereís something interesting; the camera actually has a manual mode:
    • white balance
    • ISO
    • exposure
    • level
    • rule of thirds grid


    Thereís no shutter speed control but the ISO and level are pretty cool additions to a phone at this price point.

    Youíll have to manage your expectations with video too. Indoors thereís a lot of noise reduction so video can get very soft looking. The microphone does a decent job but it picks up a bit of handling noise.

    Software:

    Out of the box the Grand X 2 comes with Android 5.1 which is pretty good. Right now, 5.1 is the newest non-beta version of Android. That said, if history is an indicator, I wouldnít expect the X to receive anything newer.

    ZTE has their own launcher. Highlights include a slightly different pull down with more switches and a slightly different home screen.

    Thereís an annoying press and hold to unlock gesture. Itís annoying because sometimes itís hard to keep it perfectly still if youíre moving around quickly but this is really a minor quibble.

    Thereís the requisite 3rd party gallery app, video player, file manager, text messaging app (because no one wants to use hangouts), task manager and music apps.

    ZTE also tossed in a diary app and sound recorder.

    Overall, in terms of bloat the ZTE isnít too bad. If youíre using pure Android you probably have to download your own gallery, video player, file manager, text messaging app and task manager anyways.

    Performance:

    Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 - the same SoC youíll find in a Motorola Moto G 2015. However, the Gís is clocked at 1.4Ghz while the Grandís is 1.2Ghz so youíll notice that the G has a minor advantage in benchmarks. To be honest, while the extra speed is welcome, I doubt anyone is going to notice the difference.



    Another thing to point out is that the included Adreno 306 GPU included with both appears to be running at the same speed so both devices have identical graphics performance.



    Really there are no surprises here with regards to performance. While the ZTE does have double the RAM, the amount of RAM rarely has an effect on benchmarks as long as there is enough of it.





    As a Phone:

    The earpiece maximum volume is average. The speakerphone max volume is below average.

    RF performance is quite good.

    The battery should last most people the day. Unlike most competitors, the Grand comes with a removable battery.

    Media Capabilities:

    The speaker is loud enough but it doesnít sound like it has been tuned at all. Thereís no bass to speak of so itís strictly utilitarian.

    When you lay the ZTE flat on its back I noticed that the speaker can get muffled. The problem is that the bumps next to the speaker donít stick out enough. This doesnít allow enough space for the sound waves to get out.

    I mentioned this a few times already but itís worth bringing up again that the Grand comes with 16GB of built-in storage. For $150 you usually only get 8GB of storage. 8GB isnít too bad but 16GB should be enough to please a lot of people. Anyways, if thatís not enough, thereís also a MicroSD card slot.

    Conclusion:

    For $150 CAN locked on prepaid the Grand X 2 itís a stonking good deal. The 2GB of RAM will help it run large apps smoothly while the 16GB of RAM make it much easier to live with than with other phones in its price range.

    The neat leather-ish back is a bonus as is the removable battery.

    Still, itís not the perfect phone. The screen has pretty lousy black levels, the speaker isnít all that great and the camera takes rough looking pictures indoors. But hey, when you consider that itís only $150 on prepaid, these problems arenít really deal breakers.

    Itís really a Motorola killer.

    4 Howies out of 5.

    Pros:
    • 2GB of RAM in a brand name phone for $150
    • 16GB of Storage in a brand name phone for $150
    • Interesting finishes


    Cons:
    • Speaker is weak
    • Speaker phone is weak
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Moto Killer? Our ZTE Grand X 2 review started by howard View original post
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. larrytxeast's Avatar
      larrytxeast -
      I am interested in this for AT&T/Cricket; however, I am looking all over the place online and can find NOTHING about this phone. It's as if doesn't even exist.
    1. bjacks12's Avatar
      bjacks12 -
      I think the lack of support kills it. With the Moto you'll at least 2 or 3 major updates.

      It also appears to be a Canada only device? Nothing about it on the US website.