BARCENA—As someone who’s written about more than her share of ndows one 8, I’m pretty used to writing about the overlooked aspects of the mobile world. Sure, some of the phones I’ve covered don’t gobble up Android-sized chunks of market share, but hey—not everyone wants an ione or a Galaxy SIII smaller manufacturers need love too, right?
That was my thinking Monday as a I fought my way across the Mobile rld Congress show floor on my way to the press event for phone maker ZTE.
That was also my mistake.
th the majority of the seats in the room taken, reporters camera crews crowded the aisles attempting to find sting room to take notes or shoot video.
A woman at the door was frantically waving in additional streams of people while simultaneously telling the doormen to shut the doors. The conference began while people were still working their way inside. (And a special shout out to the two gentlemen who not only stood directly in front of me, but also insisted on talking just loud enough so that I could barely hear the speakers).
Most of the crowd had laptops, tablets, smartphones out; about half of them looked to be checking email, or browsing the web.
Mr. He Shiyou, ZTE’s executive vice president head of its mobile device division began by telling us (via translator) that the theme of Monday’s presentation was “fe is Gr” before speaking some on ZTE’s aim of closing the gap between it more high-end manufacturers such as Apple Samsung.
ZTE Gr Memo: not so gr
Unfortunately, the company’s hopes for doing just that are pinned on the Gr Memo—a phone with an underwhelming moniker as well as unimpressive features. The highlights: The Gr Memo is the first announced device to have Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 processor (if you don’t count the Asus dFone, which was also announced Monday) also has Dolby Digital us sound.
Other features of the Gr Memo include a 1.5GHz quad-core (which only helps ZTE catch up to the rest of the smartphone gang), a width of 8.5mm, a 5.7-inch-high definition display, a 13 megapixel intelligent camera with panorama, 1080p high-definition video display, E, support for -Fi 5.0 GHz, a 3200mAh battery.
The Gr Memo also features an “integrated unique UI”—basically a skin over Android 4.1.2 with a data use monitor to check, control, lower data usage, a software manager which—wait for it—will install delete multiple apps. Another great feature of the Gr Memo? You can operate it using one thumb as it features a special designed “comfort area” that situates the keyboard slightly left or right so you won’t have to use two fingers to access parts of the screen.
Now to be fair, I’m used to seeing a ton of hsets that throw around features faster than beads at a Mardi Gras party. Still, I just don’t think that “you can use your thumb” should be touted as a feature for a phone that’s attempting to compete against the likes of Samsung, Apple, HTC. A stylus would likely have been a more useful feature to include here. so, installing deleting multiple applications is an expected feature of any smartphone.
ZTE showed a video to tout the Gr Memo’s features: Unfortunately, the only sound the audience could hear was a low buzzing noise. At this point, I started to notice a steady stream of people heading for the exit, including camera crews—something I almost never see at a press event.
ZTE’s presenter apologized for the audio issues then continued by telling us that we could see that this “great screen is clearly great.” ter, as he explained how the phone was designed to be mounted on the dashboard of a car to use G, he told us again again “this is a great screen, a great camera.” It’s difficult to believe someone is enthusiastic about a product when they can’t muster up more than one adjective to describe it.
Honestly, I’m not an unreasonable person. I have no trouble being patient with technical difficulties. I don’t even mind the overcrowding pushing—this is after all, a major trade show with thouss of attendants I’ve spent enough time in mosh pits to know how to throw a few elbows— none of those issues were ZTE’s fault.
But this is supposed to be ZTE’s major step to becoming a major smartphone manufacturer, this is a hset they’ve been teasing for months, starting in nuary at a ZTE event in Hong Kong continuing at this year’s CES.
If the phone maker expects to compete with Apple Samsung, it’s going to need much better features than “you can use it with one thumb”— ZTE is going to need to make the phone available in the United States, which it doesn’t seem willing to do.