Review: ZTE Grand X Max+ for Cricket Wireless
The X Max+ runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat with ZTE's user interface skin. The skin is mostly aesthetic, which means the basics of operating the X Max+ are the same as with other Android phones. There are a few changes here and there, but they are tasteful for the most part.
The lock screen supports up to five shortcuts. There's a permanent shortcut to the camera, but users can elect to add the phone, messaging, email, or contact apps if they so wish. The shortcuts function well even if you choose to set a password to lock the phone. The lock screen includes a bright clock in addition to access to the notification tray and Quick Settings.
Three home screen panels are active when you first boot the X Max+ and they are busy with Cricket-branded apps and widgets. As always, you can customize the screens with folders, wallpapers, or shortcuts to suit your own needs. The app drawer is rather limited. All apps are listed in alphabetical order and displayed in a grid. You can't rearrange them, create your own folders, or view the apps in list form. That's a disappointment. At least you can hide apps you won't use.
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The notification shade includes four radio toggles across the top, but a drop-down tab lets you see all the tools in the Quick Settings panel. There's also a button that opens the full settings menu. Speaking of which, ZTE dressed up the settings menu, but it functions just the same as it does on most Android handsets. All of the options for tweaking the behavior of the X Max+ are laid out in a single column. General settings are closest to the top, followed by controls over the wireless radios, device, personal data, accounts, and so on. It would be nice to see a setting for a one-handed mode, but there isn't one.
The X Max+ traded in the X Max's Snapdragon 200 processor with 1GB of RAM for a Snapdragon 400 processor with 2GB of RAM. It feels fast most of the time. I didn't see any significant performance problems, though I noticed a few pauses and crashes here and there. It's not the fastest phone I've tested, but it certainly isn't slow.
The X Max+ relies on the stock Android Phone and People apps. The Phone app opens swiftly. It offers a standard set of features, such as mute, Bluetooth, and speakerphone. I find the app works best if you take the time to set up favorites for faster dialing. You can answer calls with the motion of simply picking up the phone, but this function needs to be turned on in the settings menu.
The People app is useful for managing your various online accounts and syncs with most of them. Contact cards can hold tons of data these days and will sync with social networks if you choose. There's a single home screen widget that packages up your favorite people in a grid. Oddly, there's no way to set up direct dial/message shortcuts on the home screen. Some users may consider that a turn-off.
The X Max+ comes with Gmail, email, messaging, Hangouts, and Google+. Google has updated many of these apps so they are the same no matter what version of Google you're running. The latest Gmail app is great and now incorporates other email services. ZTE's messaging app looks and behaves differently compared to the old Android messaging app, but most of the features are the same. It's easy to manage conversations with the app. I like the idea of using Hangouts to handle SMS and IM conversations, but the UI is a muddy mess. Twitter and Facebook aren't preloaded.
Hands-On: ZTE Grand X Max+ and SPRO 2
Here is a quick take on ZTE's new hero phone for Cricket Wireless as well as a peek at the new mobile hotspot projector.
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