CES 2013: Hands on with the ZTE Grand S

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Phablets, or 5in smartphones as we should call them, are all the rage this year at CES. There's just one problem: they're huge. I suppose that's part of the appeal, but ZTE is attempting to address this issue with its newly launched ZTE Grand S, the thinnest 5in device there is.

The ZTE Grand S measures 142 x 69 x 69mm, which does indeed make it a good deal thinner than 5in phones like the HTC Droid DNA, which measures 141 x 70.5 x 9.7mm. Luckily, ZTE didn't skimp out on hardware in order to slim the phone down. The Grand S is powered by a 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, and comes with 2GB RAM. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is onboard, and ZTE says that it is committed to delivering new versions of Android. But there's a pretty thick skin in place here, which may make that easier said than done.

In person, the phone is super thin, and the screen nearly stretches from edge-to-edge, so there's nary a bit of wasted space. The unibody construction is handsome, and the phone comes in a wide variety of fun colours, some glossy, some matte. You'll see the matte pink and glossy yellow models in the slideshow below.

The back of the phone bumps out just a bit at the top in order to accommodate the 13-megapixel rear camera. The front-facing camera, meanwhile, snaps 2-megapixel photos and is able to record 1080p video. The phone comes with 16GB of built-in storage, and there's a super-slim microSD port on the side to add more.

The real draw with these 5in phones, though, is the display, and the Grand S delivers. With a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution, the Grand S delivers a true full HD experience, and everything looks super sharp with 440ppi.

Battery life is a major concern here. The Grand S is packing a 1,780 mAh battery, which I just don't see being big enough to power up that screen for long. The HTC Droid DNA, by comparison, uses a 2,020 mAh battery, and even with that, short battery life is the phone's primary issue.

The ZTE Grand S will be available in China soon. Right now there's no word on availability in the UK but EMEA is said to be third on ZTE's priority list after Asia and the US. We'll keep you posted, and plan to take a closer look at the phone as soon as we can.