ZTE caught us by surprise today, outing a Snapdragon 800-infused version of the Grand Memo at its MWC 2013 presser. The device, which still features the same 5.7-inch 720p display, 13-megapixel rear camera and 3,200mAh battery, is nearly indistinguishable from the other variants we've seen. But for this go-round, ZTE's added in Dolby Digital Plus Surround for a superior audio experience and an extra GB of RAM.
Its external chassis may have remained the same -- plasticky and lightweight -- but the difference in this 8.9mm thick Memo's real-world performance is immediately noticeable. OS actions on the skinned Jelly Bean UI don't just zip, they now quite literally fly -- truly, this device is deserving of the long-deceased "beast" moniker. Although international tradeshow WiFi connections are typically dreadful, we did manage to successfully run the Sunspider benchmark to get a quick taste of its rendering performance. The result? The Grand Memo notched a score of 1,186.7ms -- an unimpressive result when contrasted with the Tegra 4's 499ms (as derived from a reference tablet).
As for ZTE's MyFavorite UX layered atop Android 4.1.2, well, we're pleased to say it yields some neat animations. The entire homescreen, including widgets, revolves with a smooth 3D effect that just imbues the handset with a special "feel." It's a shame then that the Memo's encased in a less than premium shell, as it creates a disconnect between the smoking internals and humdrum exterior. But with a newly announced commitment to building its brand (a sentiment popular with Chinese OEMs as of late), this particular Memo is proof positive that ZTE's serious about raising its profile and consumer perception.
You won't be seeing this Grand Memo hit US shores anytime soon -- it's a China and Europe-only affair for now. So while you wait (and hold onto hope), check out our video tour after the break.
Gallery: ZTE Grand Memo reappears at MWC 2013