Vise Review: ZTE Zmax – An Affordable Yet Sluggish Phablet

  • OS
  • Display
  • Processor
  • Memory
  • Battery

Phones with the largest displays, often referred to as “phablets,” are in very high demand these days. Everyone wants a larger screen from their phones for a variety of reasons. Namely, the larger display makes it easier for users to read text and type on touch screen keyboards. Larger screens are also more relevant due to the growing use of smartphones for video streaming (i.e. Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc.). Phablets, however, are expensive devices and are often out of reach of users with tight budgets. The ZTE Zmax, priced at $252 outright, may be the budget-friendly solution for these users, offering the large screen real estate users want at a price they can afford. But can a lower end phablet offer the technical capabilities of higher end devices? Lets take a look at the design and specs below.

DESIGN – A Massive Display Wrapped In A Cheap Packagezte zmax

The first thing any user will notice about the ZTE Zmax is its massive size. At 6.4 inches tall, 3.3 inches wide, and 0.35 inches thick, it is undoubtedly a massive device.

For those with larger grips, the size could be comfortable to hold one-handed. For those with smaller hands (including this writer’s delicate hands), the size can make the Zmax difficult and even uncomfortable to hold. It is also heavy, weighing in at nearly half a pound (6.7 ounces to be exact). The large size also makes it difficult to fit into smaller pockets, which could be a huge turn off for some users. However, It may be a valuable trade-off considering the 5.7 inch display users will get in return.

Beyond the display, the rest of the ZTE Zmax’s exterior design is uninspired. It is entirely plastic with a default black finish, with an entirely flat back that adds to the device’s uncomfortable feel. The volume keys and power button are on the left and right of the device, respectively. This choice is essentially an industry standard now, so it is hardly a fault.

SPECS – Midrange Tech At a Mid Level Price

In terms of specs, the ZTE Zmax does a rather impressive job. Compared to other smartphones in its price range, it certainly seems like the superior smartphone. The Zmax sports an 8 MP camera that takes acceptable photos, with some minor blurring on out-of-focus objects. The camera’s flash can also wash out certain objects and tinge white objects with a shade of blue. The Snapdragon processor is decent, and it won’t give most users a problem. It runs basic apps and interface uses with no trouble at all. The Zmax only gets into trouble when playing graphics-heavy games. While playing, users will notice a sluggish frame rate. It doesn’t make games unplayable, but it is certainly noticeable. The ZTE Zmax also does not have the fastest data speeds. That may not be a big deal for users only checking emails and web pages, but it could be a huge pain for Netflix lovers.

The ZTE Zmax comes with a nearly stock Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat. Personally, I enjoy it because it makes the interface clean and simple to use. However, it does not offer some of the unique phablet features that many users desire, such as the Galaxy Note series’ S Pen.

Even with all these issues in mind, though, the ZTE Zmax is a pretty solid phone when compared to other phones in its price range. When compared to the Samsung Galaxy Avant, priced at $234 from T-Mobile, the ZTE Zmax has a superior camera and battery life. Talk time on the Zmax runs at 14 hours on average, which is impressive, and something no similarly priced smartphones can accomplish.


The ZTE Zmax has many flaws. That is without a doubt. However, these issues are really only things that experienced users with high end cellphones will notice. Strictly as an entry level phablet phone, the ZTE Zmax is hard to beat. Its massive size may be a turn off to some users and it may not have all the features of other phablet phones, but it will no doubt attract budget-oriented users with its competitive price.

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