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Review: ZTE Max for Boost Mobile

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The Max comes with the stock Android media apps. The Google Play Store is the central location from which to buy, rent, or otherwise access apps, music, movies, TV shows, books, and magazines. The individual Play apps are there to help you consume those various pieces of content. These apps have all been around for a while and function fairly well. So, too, have the simple MP3 and video player apps, which are also on board. The same goes for the standard YouTube application.

Google Play  

The Max also includes NextRadio, iHeartRadio, and Boost Music. NextRadio and iHeartRadio are streaming music services. Boost Music is a music store run by Boost (nee, Sprint.) You're better off avoiding it and sticking to the Play Store.

Additional Media  

Last, the Max has a dedicated Dolby Digital app that lets you take some control of the sound coming out of the various media apps. The app works with the simple MP3 and video player apps, as well as games. You can set some simple parameters for the sound, including “surround sound” and preset EQ curves. Honestly, I'd rather have a 5- or 7-band EQ that I could adjust on my own. Does this app improve the sound? Well, that's for you to decide. It certainly changes the sound, but I wouldn't necessarily call it better.



The camera can be opened via the lock screen shortcut or with a long press of the dedicated camera button. As with most modern smartphone cameras, the Max's software offers two sets of controls, down the left and right sides, though there's still plenty of room on the screen for the viewfinder. The shutter controls are on the right, as is a slider for controlling zoom.

The settings, tools, and shooting modes are all positioned along the left side of the viewfinder. The Max offers auto, normal, HDR, panorama, best shot, and low light shooting modes. Most of these are self-explanatory, with perhaps the exception of “best shot.” Best shot takes a 10-shot burst of photos and lets you pick the best one. The Max also includes a handful of scene modes, including macro, portrait, night portrait, sports, sunset, and landscape.

There is a selection of more advanced shooting modes that are rather neat. Photo clear mode lets you erase objects in the background. Smile capture automatically fires the shutter when the camera senses the subject is smiling. Reprojection mode allows you to straighten out images that have an odd perspective or angle. Group shot mode takes a handful of shots and lets you combine the best series of faces into a single image. The interval mode allows you to take 6 pictures over 30 seconds, 12 pictures over 60 seconds, or 18 pictures over 90 seconds.

Last, the settings allow you to adjust the brightness, white balance, color effects, timer, and so on.



The Max has an 8-megapixel camera that does a decent job. It fared well in shooting my snow-covered apocalypse, er, yard. White balance is tricky in the snow, and the Max did very well in that respect. Focus was mostly sharp and exposures were often spot on. As with most cameras, it performs best when the lighting is nice and bright. The flash helps low-light situations, such as dark restaurants, and can turn a wasted shot into something useful. The Max doesn't have the best camera around, but it can definitely replace a point-and-shoot on your next daytrip.



Like most of today's leading devices, the Max can capture 1080p HD video. The results I achieved were fairly good. I thought it handled the basics just fine, which means focus, exposure, and white balance were all about right. I did see some grain here and there, and the sensor was sometime unhappy about dramatic lighting changes, but for the most part it produces YouTube-worthy stuff.


The Max has both the old Android Gallery app, as well as the new Photos app from Google. Both are fine tools for managing photos, galleries, editing, and sharing. The new Photos app carries over much of the design and many of the features from the older gallery app, but it ties more directly into users' Google+ accounts. It's a bit easier to use and looks somewhat fresher. It lets users edit photos as well as share them without too much trouble. Photos also has Google's Auto-Awesome feature, which automatically enhances your pictures and turns burst-shots into animated GIFs.



Connecting to other devices via Bluetooth wasn't an issue for the Max. It paired easily and swiftly with PCs, headsets, speakers, and my car. Calls routed through my car's handsfree system were not that great in terms of quality, but pretty good as far as volume is concerned. Music pushed to my favorite Bluetooth speaker was a bit choppy, as the sound cut in and out a bit.


The Max includes both the basic Android browser and Chrome. The browsing experience was a bit mixed. When LTE was available, the Max performed well at loading web sites. Browsing over 3G wasn't nearly as rewarding, and sites were definitely slower to find their way to Max's screen. Further, weak signals impacted speeds noticeably. The two browsers themselves do a fine job of rendering web sites, and each offers a solid set of tools.



There is a sizable digital clock on the lockscreen. It is white, and positioned near the top of the screen. I was unable to find any way to customize the clock. As with most similar clocks, you have to be careful about the wallpaper you choose if you want to be able to read the clock at a glance.



The Max comes with Google Maps. Paired with the Max's GPS radio, I found Maps to work perfectly. It was able to pinpoint me in less than 10 seconds and to within about 25 feet on both versions. The Max also offers TeleNav's Scout app. Scout is free to use. It offers point-to-point navigation in addition to tons of information about local places (gas stations, banks, restaurants, etc.).



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