A few years ago buying a smartphone for $130 would have been a bad move, putting it politely. Phones in this price range were slow, clunky, and just didn’t take you very far. Thankfully, a lot has changed on that front in recent times. Low-priced technology has come a long way since the birth of the “premium affordable” smartphone market.
Today we are taking a look at the ZTE Grand X 4, and I can’t help but feel a little amazed at what so little money can get you nowadays.
After using the Grand X 4 for some time, there’s a few questions I would like to answer. For starters, is it worth your hard-earned $129.99? How good of a successor is it to the ZTE Grand X 3? Is it the phone for you? Also, is Cricket Wireless a good fit for you?
This gadget surely doesn’t compete with those high-end beasts that cost well over $600, but you may not need one of those expensive gadgets. Many of you can happily live with much more affordable handsets. Want to catch all the details? Let’s jump right into the full ZTE Grand X 4 review.
Design and build quality
Whoever said you need shiny metals to achieve a good design and build quality? It sure helps, but a well made phone doesn’t always need so-called ‘premium’ materials in order to stand out from the crowd, and I can say such is the case with the ZTE Grand X 4.
The ZTE Grand X 4 is certainly not a small phone, offering a 5.5-inch display and a larger body size to go with. That said, the curved edges, textured back and a solid in-hand feel make the phone much easier to handle than you might expect. Further lending to this handling experience is the phone’s lighter weight. The ZTE Grand X 4 weighs in at 5.71 ounces, which is only a bit heavier than the smaller Samsung Galaxy S7 (5.36 ounces).
The Grand X 4 certainly doesn’t feel like a cheap phone, and at least in our time with it so far, it’s proven to be pretty durable.
The Grand X 4 certainly doesn’t feel like a cheap phone, and at least in our time with it so far, it’s proven to be pretty durable. One benefit of plastic over metal or glass is that it tends to be a bit more resistant to things like scratches and other wear marks.
The back is adorned by a plastic, non-removable cover with a crisscross pattern that gets rid of the material’s slippery nature. Of course, you can also find the 13 MP camera, flash and fingerprint reader aligned on the top area, while a speaker rests on the bottom-right side. It’s pretty surprising to see a phone at this price point rocking a fingerprint scanner, and we have to say it’s actually quite responsive as well – though we’ll go into more details on that a bit later in the review.
The left side of the device houses the SIM card slot, which doubles as a microSD reader. On the right side we can find both the power button and the volume rocker, while the top features the 3.5 mm headset jack and an audio-cancelling microphone. Meanwhile, the USB Type-C port and microphone rest on the bottom side.
On the front there is a 5.5-inch 720p screen, a speaker, the 5 MP front-facing camera and three capacitive buttons at the bottom. These follow ZTE’s Grand X line design, with a circular home button that is now iconic to the brand, as well as two customizable dots.
ZTE makes these two dotted buttons easily re-programmable. It’s possible to choose which is the back or recent apps action. Not all of us have the same preferences, right? It’s annoying when you have to be stuck with the manufacturer’s chosen button layout.
Overall, the phone feels pretty good. There seemed to be a bit of a loose area to the left of the fingerprint reader, where a click would sound after creating some pressure, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker. It’s not something you will ever notice under regular use.
We have said it time and again – a phone does not need a QHD screen to look great, and to some users even a 1080p definition may be a bit overkill. The ZTE Grand X 4 sports a large 5.5-inch panel with a 1280×720 resolution, which may be enough for many… or not.
At this size it can be hard to ignore those pixels, which are definitely noticeable to the naked eye. Some images look a little hazy and you can especially tell the low resolution when viewing text. But some sacrifices had to be made to reach this price tag, and once you get past the small details you will find that this is actually a pretty good screen.
Colors are vibrant and well saturated. For a moment I was actually wondering if it was an AMOLED panel, but then realized it was just a good quality LCD screen. Viewing angles are great and I noticed close to no washing out or darkening when viewing from extreme perspectives. It is also bright enough to comfortably use under direct sunlight.
At the end of the day, if you are a display buff, this one might be a bit underwhelming, but if you are just looking for a bright, large display that gets the job done, the X 4 handles this quite nicely.
The ZTE Grand X 4 one-upped its predecessor by upgrading to the Snapdragon 400 series, as opposed to sticking with the 200 series. The Grand X 4 now sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 chipset, with four cores clocked at 1.4 GHz. You can also find 2 GB of RAM running the show.
This makes for a pretty good experience. Keep in mind lower-end processors are no longer as limited as they once were. This phone can handle its own pretty well. Apps open quickly and I never noticed any significant lag or real slow-downs during casual usage. Of course, it’s not as fast as the big guys, but that is to be expected.
When it came to running all my apps, for the most part, it handled everything I threw at it without any major issues. However, on the gaming front there were a few more issues. I was not able to run Shadowgun, and Real Racing had plenty of stutters. More casual games worked just fine, though.
The UI of course is super responsive. Remember when cheap phones took like 3 seconds just to go from homepage to homepage? Those days are long gone! But let’s get you some numbers, shall we?
- 3D Mark
- Geek Bench
This is one area where the ZTE Grand X 4 really stands out. While most phones in this price range strip the phone of all cool features in existence, it seems the ZTE Grand X 4 is skimping out on very little. For starters, the phone does come with a fingerprint reader, as previously mentioned. And a very good one, at that. It is fast and only failed to recognize my fingerprint a couple times.
While most budget phones strip the phone of all cool features, the ZTE Grand X 4 is skimping out on very little.
In addition, the phone comes with a USB Type-C connector, Bluetooth 4.2, 4G LTE and more. Also packed inside is 16 GB of internal flash storage. We know that’s not very much, but you can expand it by up to 64 GB using the microSD card reader. The only significant feature missing is NFC, really, but we know not many of you care for that anyways.
The ZTE Grand X 4 comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which is not the latest and greatest, but it is recent enough to keep the phone relevant.
In good ZTE fashion, the software is pretty much stock Android with some slight (yet helpful) additions. The most obvious difference will be on the notification area, which does look rather unique. It looks like a rehashed version of the Grand X 3’s notification area, but with a transparent gradient we happen to be fans of.
Pulling down the notification area will display your notifications (of course) brightness options and 4 toggles you can customize to your liking. wipe down again and you will see a plethora of other toggles coming down. These can also be edited, by the way.
It is a simple interface, which we know is something the US market loves. The closer to stock Android, the better, right?
Cameras on low-end phones tend to be horrible, a trend ZTE has been wanting to change. Now, I am not saying this is a phenomenal camera phone, but it can take some decent shots.
I was especially surprised by the manual mode in the included app. Those of us who really need more control over our cameras usually can’t stand auto mode, an issue ZTE started tackling some time ago. One can easily tinker with the ISO, shutter speed, exposure, white balance and more.
In addition, one can separately select which area of the frame it would be better to focus on, while exposure is captured from another. Simply move the circle and cross wherever you prefer. Here are some samples of the images I captured.
Of course, you can find all those cool modes. These include panorama, multi exposure and interval shooting. I would say it’s one of the fullest camera apps I have used.
Here are some samples of the images I captured:
I have always said there is one huge benefit to a phone with lesser specs – battery life. Less powerful processors, lower definitions and other cheaper components tend to be less resource intensive, which means you won’t need to stay tethered to a wall as long.
I seriously wasn’t able to kill this phone with a full day’s worth of moderate to heavy usage. In fact, I would plug it in every night with about 30% of juice left to go. This thing will last!
Couple this with the fact that the ZTE Grand X 4 has a pretty hefty battery and you have yourself one long battery life. I seriously wasn’t able to kill this phone with a full day’s worth of moderate to heavy usage. In fact, I would plug it in every night with about 30% of juice left to go.
This thing will last!
|ZTE Grand X 4 specs|
|Software||Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Display||5.5-inch 1280×720 LCD|
|Processor||1.4 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 425|
|Storage||16 GB (plus microSD support)|
|Rear camera||13 MP|
|Front camera||5 MP|
|Battery||3,140 mAh battery|
|Dimensions||6.11″ x 3.03″ x 0.36″|
There’s one thing no one can deny – the ZTE Grand X 4 is worth the $129.99, and more.
The ZTE Grand X 4 is certainly not the phone of your dreams, but you would be hard-pressed to find something of this quality at $129.99. The phone may need a bit more power when playing games or using intense apps, but for most casual tasks it will do great. It could also use a higher definition screen, but you are still getting much more than what you paid for.
The device comes with some features usually reserved only for higher-end phones, such as a fingerprint reader and USB Type-C, so you are not missing out on all the fun. In addition, you get amazing battery life, a pretty good camera (considering the price range), a solid construction, pleasing design and good build quality. All for $129.99!
Oh, and there is one more factor – can you live with Cricket Wireless? This phone happens to be exclusive to the AT&T subsidiary. The carrier offers pretty good plans, starting at only $30 a month. Qualified plans get a $5 discount if auto-pay is set up. Not to mention you do get unlimited data; you only get a limited amount of high speed data, though.
Regardless, if Cricket Wireless doesn’t have coverage in your area, or you simply don’t like the carrier, you will have to look elsewhere for an affordable handset.
The main question I ask myself when making a review is – could I live with this phone? I probably wouldn’t choose to, as I am a fan of high-end games and this gadget wasn’t able to handle them very well. I would certainly recommend it to a casual user, though. There’s one thing no one can deny – it is worth the $129.99 and more.