(Pocket-lint) - The new ZTE Grand X is the first genuinely powerful phone we have seen from the traditionally budget manufacturer. Priced at £189 handset only, or £32 a month from Virgin media, it is an affordable way of getting hold of Ice Cream Sandwich. 

In the hand, the ZTE has a decent build quality, not unlike that of the Galaxy Nexus, with a textured back and rounded bottom. The four Android keys seem responsive - although from what we could gather, don't light up, which could be a problem when using the handset in the dark. The 1GHz Tegra 2 chip and 512MB of RAM ensure the phone ticks along nicely, admittedly it is helped however by ZTE's approach to Android which is entirely Vanilla. 


Rather bizarrely, some of the stock ICS apps have been downgraded, such as the media player, which runs on Gingerbread. The rest, like the 720p-capable 5-megapixel camera, works well enough. The front 0.3-megapixel snapper does leave something to be desired, but being included on a handset of this price is a plus point. 

Offering 4GB of internal memory expandable using microSD is a nice touch, as is the 4.3 inch 960 x 540 screen which seems - from our brief play with the phone - to be a lot better than those typically found on mid-range handsets. The viewing angles didn't appear great but colours were certainly nice and saturated. 


No NFC for the handset unfortunately although ZTE did say it was something it was looking into for future phones. We gave the speaker a brief blast and, helped along with Dolby Mobile, audio was better than most although the environment in which we tested the handset was too noisy to make any real judgement.

A solid piece of kit then from ZTE and some decent-value hardware for those on the hunt for an affordable ICS handset. We can't help but think, however, that at £32 per month on contract there is plenty else available which is better.

Like the sound of the ZTE? Let us know in the comments below... 

Writing by Hunter Skipworth.