ZTE has a long history of working away steadily in the background, producing an extensive line-up of entry-level and mid-range mobile devices that are often rebranded by carriers like Telstra and Optus. At MWC 2014, though, it’s showing off a line-up of new smartphones to get the ZTE brand into the hands of the budget-conscious and buyers in emerging markets.
The ZTE Grand Memo II LTE is the most likely to make its way to Australia eventually — an Asia-Pacific launch is scheduled for some time after April, when devices will initially become available in China. The Grand Memo II LTE, like the name suggests, is a 4G-compatible smartphone with a phablet-grade 6-inch LCD display, although it has a mediocre 1280×720 pixel resolution. The panel is at least made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3, so it’ll be strong.
Its vital specs are all appropriately mid-level: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with a capacious 2GB of RAM makes for affordable computing, while the 16GB of storage, 13MP camera and 3200mAh battery really make the Grand Memo II LTE a poor man’s Galaxy Note 3. It’s running a thankfully up-to-date version of Android 4.4 Kit-Kat, although ZTE is known for its sometimes questionable skins and interface adjustments.
Alongside the Grand Memo II LTE, ZTE is using its extensive production line muscle to pump out two new smartphones using the latest version of the cut-price Firefox OS. Phones using Firefox OS are destined for emerging markets, and the OS itself is entirely open source and transparently developed, leaning heavily on HTML5 for app compatibility.
ZTE’s Open II is a direct descendent of the original Open announced at MWC 2013, and brings a general upgrade to specifications — a dual-core 1.2GHz CPU, 256MB of RAM, 2GB of storage, a 3.5-inch 480×320 pixel screen, 2MP camera and 1150mAh battery round out a decidedly low-cost package.
The ZTE Open C is more powerful in every aspect, using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 1.2GHz processor, a larger 4-inch 800×480 pixel display, double the RAM and storage of the Open II, and a 1400mAh battery. Both phones are 3G HPSA+ compatible, and while there’s no real possibility of them being officially released in Australia, it’s likely they’ll both be available for sale through eBay internationally in the same way that the original Open was.