Archive for February 16, 2017

Review: ZTE Grand X 4

Posted in Products with tags on February 16, 2017 by itnerd

ZTE has proven that they can make a phone for a low price that packs a lot of value. Their latest effort is the ZTE Grand X 4. Let me get to the price right off the bat. If you’re on Freedom Mobile, you can get it for $99 on a two year plan if the plan is $45 or more. What do you get for that price? A lot actually. Here’s the specs:

  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow

  • 5.5-inch 1280×720 LCD

  • 1.4 GHz quad-core processor

  • 2 GB RAM

  • 16 GB Storage

  • microSD slot

  • 13MP rear camera

  • 5MP front camera

  • USB-C

  • Bluetooth 4.2 LE

  • 4G LTE

  • 802.11b/g/n WiFi

Those aren’t lightweight specs.

The ZTE Grand X 4 is not a small phone. That said, the curved edges, textured back and a solid in-hand feel make the phone much easier to handle than you might expect. It’s also light. I used it all day to shoot pictures and video at the Canadian International Auto Show media day and I never found it to be bulky and heavy. It also feels solid and well constructed. 

Some features stand out to me. First is the fingerprint scanner. A smartphone with a fingerprint scanner isn’t common at this price point. This this is a plus. The second is the screen. Okay, you will notice the pixels on it. But colors were vibrant and images seemed bright to me. I seriously doubt that anyone who sees it will complain. Fingerprints on the screen are a bit of a problem though.

Performance is pretty good. Apps open quickly and I never noticed any significant lag or real slow-downs during casual usage. I have no complaints on this front. But what’s missing is NFC which is understandable as you have to cut costs somewhere to hit this price point. For the record, another area that ZTE saved a few bucks on is WiFi. It only has 802.11b/g/n WiFi in an age where 802.11ac is common. 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.

The camera on the Grand X 4 is pretty decent. I used it to shoot this 1080p video at the Canadian International Auto Show. Set it to 1080p and full screen to see what I mean:

Sound quality is a bit tinny. You’ll also note the fact that it constatly tried to autofocus. To be fair, you can turn that off if it bothers you which is a good thing. In terms of stills, they were decent. Here were a few examples:

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There is some pixelation. However, these pictures are decent. Considering that this is a $99 phone, that’s to be expected.

Battery life was great. I started using it at 7:10 AM to tweet, take photos and videos almost non stop, and upload a video to YouTube and got to 3PM with 46% of the battery left. That’s pretty impressive as I was hammering the phone pretty hard. That means that battery life under normal usage will be in the two day range. Pretty impressive from a $99 phone.

The bottom line? If you want a phone at this price point, the ZTE Grand X 4 is hard to beat. Sure it’s not perfect, but this phone has a lot going for it. Enough that you should put it on your shopping list.

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Highlights From The Canadian International Auto Show Media Day

Posted in Commentary on February 16, 2017 by itnerd

For the third year in a row, I attended the Canadian International Auto Show media day. Now for those of you who think getting a behind the scenes look at the coolest cars and attending exclusives press conferences is fun…. Well it is.

It is also grueling. Very grueling

My day started at 5:15 AM to be at the Metro Toronto Convention Center at 7:10 AM. Fortunately, they feed us breakfast. The actual events start at 8AM and there were two highlights that I’d like to point out. One was a hyper car from Aston Martin:

 

The Automotoive Journalists Association Of Canada also chose their category winners along with their best car and SUV:

From there, it was on the press conferences. Now most of the time, they reveal a car that you have seen elsewhere. But this year, we had something unique. Hyundai had a world premiere of their 2018 Accent. This is a rare for Canada. But sub compact cars are big business here and Hyundai dominates this market in Canada, so it made sense. I did a video of this unique event using the ZTE Grand X4 which made the trip with me:

I won’t go into everything else that I saw. But if you want to, check out my Twitter feed as I live tweeted the event. However, here’s what caught my eye:

This is just a fraction of what I saw today. If you’re into cars, and you’re in or around the Greater Toronto area, check out the Canadian International Autoshow. It runs from Feburary 17th until the 26th at the Metro Toronto Convention Center. Come early as there’s a lot to see and do here, and I’ve only scratched the surface in terms of what’s on offer for visitors to see.