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printed October 19, 2017
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Review: ZTE ZMax for T-Mobile / MetroPCS

Form Performance Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  

Screen

The ZMax features a 5.7-inch display with 1280 x 720 pixels. This isn't the best combination. The large size means those 921,000 pixels have a lot of space to fill - and they don't quite get the job done. Individual pixels are plainly visible even when the phone is held more than a foot away. In other words, the screen isn't nearly as sharp as it could be. That said, 720p screens are less costly than 1080p screens, and this lesser component helps keep the ZMax's price point down. Lack of pixels aside, the ZMax's display is crazy bright and viewing angles are excellent. I had no trouble seeing it outdoors - as long as the screen was clean. ZTE must not employ an oleophobic coating, because this thing collects fingerprint smears like no other phone I've tested this year. Gross.

Signal

The ZMax performed admirably on T-Mobile's network in the metro NYC region. I'd say it's on par with other devices I've tested on the UNcarrier. Whether the signal was strong or weak, the ZMax connected calls on the first dial while I tested it. However, maintaining calls wasn't as great; I had a couple of dropped calls here and there, mostly in moving vehicles. The ZMax interacted well with T-Mobile's HSPA+/LTE data networks. Speeds were generally good, though they fell short of incredible. I noticed slowdowns in weak coverage areas, but that's typical behavior.

Sound

The ZTE isn't the best phone I've used for making calls, nor is it the worst. Volume is decent through the earpiece, but quality left something to be desired. There was a bit more interference than I cared to hear. Those who called me while I was testing the ZMax said I sounded "far away." The speakerphone works best when placed on a hard, flat surface. It can generate some serious punch, but clarity could, again, be a bit better. Ringers and alerts were loud enough to get my attention most of the time, but there were a few instances when I missed calls for not hearing the phone. The vibrate alert is good but not great.

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Battery

With a 3,400 mAh battery under the hood, staying power is one thing the ZMax has in spades. Neither the big screen nor the LTE radio can put a dent in the battery. The ZMax consistently delivered a full day of battery life and left me with plenty to spare at the end of the day. Casual users should be pleased with the ZMax's battery performance, and power users should be able to get by without issue. It's solid.

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