In the US, unlocked devices like the Nexus 4 and the suite of Google Play editions are starting to become popular, as a growing number of consumers eschew the tradition of buying phones under subsidy in exchange for a two-year contract. As we mentioned two weeks ago, ZTE is putting a lot more effort into wooing this crowd by announcing two unlocked and unsubsidized phones: the $400 Grand S, which we played with at CES 2013 in January, and the $450 Nubia 5. Both handsets began shipping from outlets like Amazon yesterday, so one of these darlings can be all yours.
We had a few minutes to play with the 5-inch Nubia 5 last night and came away with some good first impressions. Though it's not meant to be a high-end device, ZTE did a good job of giving it more of a premium look as well as a comfortable fit and finish. Its back cover consists of matte-backed plastic (although it sadly still attracts greasy fingerprints quite easily), while the top half of the sides are constructed with aluminum. It's also not going to set any records for being the thinnest device, but 7.6mm is actually ideal for our particular tastes -- it's still much more slim than most smartphones, and it's plenty easy to handle one-handed if you prefer.
The 1080p display looks fantastic on the Nubia 5, and it provides good viewing angles (indoors, at least, but we don't know about how it looks in direct sunlight). It runs Android 4.1.2 and is surprisingly zippy, especially given the older 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro inside. We have a gallery and video of the Nubia 5 with its huge Houston Rockets logo (this is only a limited edition, and the other version is what we'll see as final hardware), as well as its logoless counterpart, which will be the model that ships to the consumers.