ZTE Grand Memo handson a first look at Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 in action

ZTE caught us by surprise today, outing a Snapdragon 800-infused version Snapdragon 600 variant 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 trade show 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 home screen, 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.

Update: Qualcomm's informed us that the Grand Memo actually uses the Snapdragon 600, not the 800 that was mentioned during ZTE's event and in its official PR. We are shaking our collective heads.

Update 2: Well this is fun, it turns out we got it right the first go round. After further discussion with ZTE, it turns out there are two versions of the Grand Memo: a Chinese variant with a Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064, while Europe gets a Snapdragon 800 with LTE.

ZTE Grand Memo with Snapdragon 600 hands-on

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ZTE Grand Memo reappears at MWC 2013

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ZTE Grand Memo hands-on: a look at Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 in action (updated)