Intel's new Atom chips for mobile phones may not have made much of an impact so far, only being spotted in the UK inside the Orange San Diego, but it's early days yet. The latest blower to get the Atom treatment is the ZTE Grand X IN. It barely differs from the existing Grand X, which came out earlier this month, but I'm looking forward to seeing what the different processor does for the power.
It's due to go on sale towards the end of September, hopefully for the same budget price.
At first glance, the you'd be forgiven for thinking the Grand X IN is the same phone as the standard Grand X, as they share almost identical designs. The front of the X IN is dominated by a 4.3-inch touchscreen, with touch-sensitive buttons along the bottom for navigating around the Android interface.
Around the back is an expanse of rubberised plastic that's been given a textured effect -- again, pulled from the Grand X. The top left hand side of the back panel is where you'll find an 8-megapixel camera, which ZTE proudly boasts is "best in class". We'll be the judge of that, thanks.
Its physical dimensions are roughly the same as the Grand X too, measuring 127mm long, 65mm wide and 9.9mm thick. It manages to add a few extra grams though, weighing in at 141g. That's not the slimmest or lightest phone around, but you shouldn't struggle to slide it into a pocket.
Part of the extra weight may be down to the battery, which ZTE reckons will provide a very long battery life, although exactly how long it will last when using it for web browsing and music streaming remains to be seen.
The 4.3-inch screen offers a resolution of 540x960 pixels -- about what's to be expected from a lesser-priced phone. The big boys like the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3 might offer 720p displays, but they also demand much higher price tags. Still, it seemed reasonably bright and displayed video well, so it looks at least adequate for apps and YouTube clips. I'll see how it stacks up against the budget competition in the full review.
Processor and software
The thing that separates the Grand X IN from its brother is that it uses an Intel Atom processor, rather than the Nvidia Tegra 2 chip found in the standard model. For the most part, that's absolutely meaningless, as it doesn't change the software or anything you can see.
The important part is what gains -- if any -- it offers in the power stakes, and we'll have to wait for the full review to find that out. The ZTE representative showing the phone off booted up the graphically demanding Riptide GP and frame rates looked very smooth indeed, which is impressive for a more budget-minded phone. I'm looking forward to seeing what it can achieve.
The phone is running Android Ice Cream Sandwich. It's a little disappointing to not see it launch with Jelly Bean, the latest version on board, but as a budget option, it's not too surprising. ZTE said it has no plans so far to update it to Jelly Bean, so don't expect an update before the new year. Given the phone runs stock Android without the usual manufacturer skin, that's disappointing, as it shouldn't take much effort to put the new software on it.
The stock ICS experience is pretty pleasant though, so if you've had any experience with Android before you should feel right at home. You also get full access to the Google Play store to download any of the hundreds of thousands of apps on offer.
The ZTE Grand X IN doesn't differ at all from the Grand X on the outside, but if the Intel Atom chip under the hood results in lightning performance -- and it keeps the budget price tag -- it might be worth considering if you don't have endless supplies of cash.