LAS VEGAS -- Sleek, smooth, and slim, ZTE's marquee device of the season, the Grand S II, has finally debuted at CES 2014. Sporting a powerful Snapdragon 800 processor, a 1080p display, and a 13-megapixel camera, the Grand S II is the highest-end smartphone the Chinese mobile company has yet to offer.
Design Sporting a bigger screen than its predecessor, the Grand S II has a 5.5-inch full HD, 1080p display. During my brief time with it, images looked crystal clear, and when I watched a short HD video, footage was sharp and bright.
When I held it in my hand, the device felt wide and a bit unwieldy due to its expansive screen. Keep in mind, however, that I do have a relatively grip, so those with larger paws may find the phone more comfortable to handle.
In addition, the phone features a faux brushed-metal battery door. While the design isn't a detriment to its overall aesthetic, I was a bigger fan of the original Grand S' stark monochrome look. Its design included a matte, vaguely ceramic-like construction that lent a more premium air to the device.
Key components and features The LTE handset ships with Android 4.3, with no word yet on an update to 4.4. It will be overlaid with ZTE's custom user interface, however, which does include some nifty features.
For instance, there's split-screen multitasking, glove mode for the touch screen, and a few motion gestures.
One unique security option enables users to unlock their handset with their voices, using a phrase of their choice. The Grand S II will also have improved audio features that reportedly result in clearer calls.
Perhaps most compelling, however, is the phone's top-of-the-line 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor. That's the same CPU featured in the popular Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Along with the Nubia 5S, it's one of ZTE's first phones to have the 800 processor.
When I played around with the phone for a bit, it operated reliably and smoothly -- app drawers opened with ease and launching the camera took no time at all.
Other hardware specs include a 13-megapixel camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 3,000mAh battery. It will have 16GB of built-in storage (which is expandable up to 32GB via a microSD card slot), and 2GB of RAM.
It was sold online, unsubsidized for $399.99. Being a bigger handset and more powerful, however, the Grand S II may see a bump in its full retail price. If, that is, it ever makes its way over here.
If it does get released under a US carrier, that would be a major win for ZTE. Having a phone of this caliber available on-contract would surely elevate market awareness for ZTE's brand. Especially since this device plays an obvious role in the company's determination to make a name for itself in the top-tier phone market.